Saturday, August 8, 2009

We have Queens!!

As I mentioned last week, I was very worried that I didn't see the queen or evidence of eggs in either of the hives. I did a quick mid-week check of the hives, and again didn't see anything. In fact, the brown hive had a definite 'roar' sound being made by the bees, which I am told is the sound a queenless hive makes. Plus the bees were very aggressive. Great.

I called Janina (my beekeeper friend who has had hives for over 23 years now) and talked to her about the situation. She said that sometimes the act of marking the queen (which I did on the brown hive's queen and she did for the nuc) can sometimes damage the queen, or otherwise make her 'unsuitable' in the eyes of the workers and they will kill her. Great.

So she agreed to stop by and help me look, and she did that this morning. Good news - we saw both queens! The queen in the green hive had a green dot on it (since Janina marked her). But interestingly enough, the queen in the brown hive was missing the paint dot altogether! This means either the bees somehow removed it (unlikely, since I waited a couple of minutes for the paint to dry), or they made another queen. This queen was very plump (like she should be, having been mated). I don't remember seeing any evidence of queen cells on my inspections, but that doesn't mean much since I obviously missed the queen cells on an inspection prior to my swarm. And I don't think the math works out for the hive having made a new queen. It has me confused, but in any case, both hives were nice and gentle and queenright, and that's what is important.

Here are pictures of Janina looking at the green hive (which was from a nuc I purchased from her):

You can see that the bees are clustered in the center frames, since those are the ones with wax and brood.

During today's inspection, we didn't see as many eggs as would be expected. Janina says that may be because of the lack of pollen or other conditions (like weather), and the queen slowed down the egg laying. That is not what I want. Janina had a pollen patty in her truck, and she gave it to me and we fed each hive half of a patty. I may look into buying some to supplement the natural pollen they collect. I did notice some very nice pollen collecting going on today, which I haven't seen for many weeks - good deal! So hopefully the queens will kick into high gear.

On the green hive, I continue to feed the sugar syrup, since that hive is very small. The bees had drawn out half of a frame on each side, so they are doing what they should. I will probably feed that hive the rest of the summer to get it up to strength for the winter.

So all appears to be well again. I am not going to do anything to the queen in the brown hive - she can remain unmarked! Last week I put in a couple of foundationless frames, and they had drawn one out very well. We left that one in the hive, but pulled out the second one (which is shown at the top of this post - I think that is so cute how they make it!) and replaced it with a regular plastic frame. Janina said that the bees don't have to work as hard pulling out comb on a foundation as they do when they have to do the whole thing. That makes sense, but right now I am not too keen on plastic foundation (due to the problems I've had with the bees stripping off the wax and never drawing comb on it afterward). I think from this point forward, I'm going to use wired wax foundation. It's a little more labor intensive, but I think it'll be worth it.

We did a little adjusting of the frames to help the bees draw out comb, but other than that we just closed things up.

I'm glad I don't have to shell out more money for queens, given I just bought this nuc; I was prepared to order a couple mail-order.

P.S. A funny story from last week. About Wednesday I was going to do a quick check. So I suited up, lit the smoker, and prepared to open up the green hive. As I was removing the rock from the green hive's top cover, I accidentally dropped it and it landed on the wooden stand in between the two hives. That shook up the brown hive and I heard a huge roar from the hive. Bees started boiling out of the entrance to see what was wrong, and were prepared to chase off any trespassers. Needless to say I just grabbed my stuff and slowly walked back to the porch, thinking "I'll check the hive maybe tomorrow..."

P.P.S. Today as I was turning over a frame of bees, I accidentally trapped one of the workers against the frame, and she expressed her displeasure via a sting to my left index finger. Ouch! My wife still wonders why I don't use gloves (I can't maneuver the frames as well with gloves).

1 comment:

  1. I am a wax only girl. I've never liked the plasitic frames - they bend too much when I am working on them and they are the last to be worked by the bees. Mind you that is 1.5 years of experience speaking!

    Glad you found both queens!


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