Thursday, May 30, 2013

Installed queens

Sorry, no photos.  Too windy, a little drizzle, but had to get the queens in.  They were a day later arriving than we had thought, so I didn't want to wait until "perfect" weather.  No such thing this spring.
Installed just fine in hive #1, left in cage between two frames.  I'll check this one in two days and release her if she isn't free yet.  Had possibly fatal release in the new hive.  First, I moved frames from the nuc into a regular medium hive body.  On the frame I thought might have some queen cells there were queen cells, so I left that frame in the nuc.  We'll see if that will develop a queen.  I wanted to directly release the second queen into the new hive, which I'll call #3.  I pulled the plug and right away the attendant bees emerged, but the queen was reluctant to come out, or so it seemed.  I lifted it up from the top of the frames, and Kathy saw her drop out.  We looked but couldn't find her, and I hope she fell into the hive.  I should have just pulled the plug out of the plastic container and set it down in the hive, especially with the wind blowing madly as it was.  We covered the hive up after filling it with frames of nectar and a couple to be drawn out.  I'll check in about 5 or 6 days and see if there is any larva or eggs.  Dumb mistake.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

No Queen

I checked again yesterday to see if hive #2 had a laying queen yet.  I went through the entire hive, but no eggs or larva.  I ordered a Minnesota Hygenic queen from B & B Honey Farms for both this hive and the nuc I started.  I didn't check to see if they had made a queen cell or not.  I'll check when I get the new queen and remove any cells I might find.

This is an example of the weather we've had the past several days and is forecast to continue until Sunday.  It'll be tricky finding a dry time to try to introduce the new queens, when they arrive near the end of the week. 

Suddenly, in the past several days, it's gotten very lush, green out there.  The white clover is just starting to show, but as wet as it is I don't know how much the bees will be able to get out and harvest much nectar.
This is a foggy, damp view out back of our house.  The hives are at the far end of the field, beyond the garden and vineyard.  After rain all morning yesterday, there was a brief interlude when I could go out and check the hive.  The bees in hive #2 were all over the place, and I briefly thought perhaps it was pre-swarm activity, there were so many in the air around the hive.  They settled down after awhile.  I think it was just some pent-up energy from having to be inside much more than they'd like.

I also ordered a new hive set from Mann Lake to move the nuc into.  I'm trying an 8 frame hive.  The 10 framers get heavier each year, and from what I've read the 8 frames can do just fine.  I'm not really sure I want to move up to 3 hives, but I'll try it for awhile and see how it goes.  We certainly, for ourselves anyway, don't need more honey than we harvested last year.  We're still giving it away regularly.  Kathy has sold enough to her exercise "buddies" to cover the cost of the containers, but we have no plans to do any serious selling of honey.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

No sign yet of laying queen

Hive #2 is still not showing signs of a laying queen.  I went through both boxes frame by frame and found no queen and no eggs/larva.  The eggs from which a new queen was developed would have her at about 22 to 23 days old now, having emerged probably a week ago.  Doing more reading, however, I read that a number of beekeepers, having placed a queen cell in a hive with hours to go until emergence, may not check for a laying queen for 15 days.  So, I will check again in about a week and see if there is anything.  If not, I will order 2 MN hygenic queens and put one in the nuc and one in this colony.

I had not seen any pollen coming into the hive so I suspected there was not a laying queen.  However, the bees have brought in a lot of nectar so I will have to monitor that closely.

On another blog, I found a link to this short, 2 minute  video.
 A beekeeper, Steve Ellis, who also works out of California, is joining several other beekeepers and organizations in filing a suit against the EPA to put a suspension on the use of neonicotinoids on seeds.  If what he shows in his video is accurate in his accusations, the effect on the bees is pretty dramatic and is worth viewing. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

2nd split

I decided to take a better look at hive #2, our strong hive, and see if there are swarm cells, if they need more space, etc.  Whereas other years I've had difficulty with the hive being honey bound early, this hive has a problem of being brood bound.  This queen is some egg layer!  The hive is so full of brood, capped and otherwise, that I thought I would add some brood to hive #1 which, if it has a new queen who will begin laying within the next several days, will need newly emerged bees to help with the work of taking care of the new eggs/larva, gather pollen/nectar, etc.  You can see the solid laying pattern in the photo below, with just a few drone cells along the top edge.

 Although I didn't find the queen, I found plenty of brood, capped as well as very young.  I put the frame above into hive #1, then put a similar frame, with bees, into the little 5 frame nuc box below as well as a frame of honey and one of pollen and nectar.  I finally found a frame with some eggs and young larva and put that into the nuc as well.  I set it on the far side of the prairie.  With luck, We'll be up to 3 hives in about a month's time.

The queen cell in hive #1 was empty and mostly removed by the bees.  According to the calendar, she should be able to start laying eggs early next week.  I just hope there were enough viable drones around to be able to mate.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Queen Cells

It has been 9 days since we did a split and time to check to see if queen cells are being made.
As you can see, they had one capped cell on this frame and another, off the image, that was in the process of being capped.  We didn't interfere any further with the hive, which has a good number of bees present.  I know some probably migrated back to the original hive but since we put several frames with a lot of brood, the hive has a good population in spite of being situated near the original hive.  I know most experienced beekeepers will tell you you need to move them a couple miles away, but so far I haven't had any problem losing too many bees back to the original hive.  Nice to be lucky about something!
Kathy was noting how many different colors of pollen are coming in right now.  You can see the young lady above loaded down with huge sacks of orange.  There is such variety of plant blooming right now (see the cherry blossoms below)  and the bees have a lot from which to choose.  It would be interesting to see what the honey produced by this variety is like, but at this time of the year, the nectar they harvest gets turned into honey to replenish what they lost over the winter, so by the time we get to filling supers, our honey here comes  more just from sweet clover.  Still, pretty darn tasty!