New bees

My hive didn’t do so well over the winter. The queen is still there but I only found a few hundred bees around her (normal hive is in the tens of thousands – healthy hive is 70,000). I moved them to a nuc (small 5-frame box) to see if they can turn things around — if they do, I’ll have two hives.

The old bees, gathered around the queen after a tough winter. Can you spot the queen?

I ordered a new package of bees, which I installed Saturday. Today I released the queen who stays in her own cage for several days until the new bees (who aren’t her kin) decide she smells ok and can be their matriarch. She has already mated with some drones in California, so she has all she needs to lay up to 2,000 eggs a day (less in the winter) for 5 years or so. The other bees’ job is to keep the queen alive and prepare cells so she can lay eggs that will hatch into their replacements. Tough life. After a month or so the whole hive will be the new queen’s progeny.

Here’s a little video, at half speed, of today’s hive entrance activity –

And some photos –


Vultures brought me a lot of enjoyment during the safari. They gathered in sinister-looking trees just like you’d expect and their heads bobbed up and down exactly like the Beatles-type vultures in Disney’s The Jungle Book.

We first saw them trying to get in on the remains of a Cape buffalo taken down by lions. The lions were so full they could barely walk, but they still chased the birds away a few times before giving in. The second group was waiting for a larger group of lions to finish with a zebra. The vultures fought over lion scat and gathered in a nearby tree for their turn with the meal.

Here are a few clips set to “That’s What Friends are For” from The Jungle Book.

And some photos –


I’m waist deep in footage from the South African photo safari we went on last week at MalaMala Game Reserve next to Kruger National Park. Here are a few videos and some of my favorite photos so far –

Elephant and rhinoceros mud bath (safe for all stomachs) –

Lions vs. vultures (warning: a little bit of raw meat) –

Overstuffed lions try to protect the leftovers of a Cape buffalo meal from hungry and persistent vultures.

Zebra feast (warning: medium graphic but super interesting. Noisy eaters!) –

Another Land Rover pulled up behind us and a woman said, “Wait, what are they doing?! Are they eating a zebra?! I do NOT want to see that. I thought they were just hanging out!”

Photos –