Monday, June 7, 2010

A Natural

There was one very happy beekeeper this week as she tried on her new suit and gloves. Still waiting for the kids sized veil, but no worries as we made do with one of ours. Looking forward to many years of sharing this hobby together.

And Then there were Three

The newest colony in the collection, Jane Seymour, was added as a nucleus (nuc) of Carniolans, known for their more gentle nature. The nuc is essentially a small hive box containing five fully developed frames of bees, larvae in varying stages of development and honey. In the image above you can see honeycomb filled with both pollen and drone comb, which protrudes above the normal comb height due to the larger size of the drone (male) bees. Also visible are lots of cells filled with larvae of all sizes which will eventually be capped.

The frames are placed in a normal brood box with five new frames waiting to be drawn out. Theoretically it should take off more rapidly than a newly installed package though ours has been a bit slow to build up the new frames. Oh, and we have not seen this queen yet either...I am sensing a pattern here.

In With the New...

The existing supercedure cell was removed once we confirmed the new queen was released and healthy. If the supercedure cell is carefully removed the developing queen inside can be used in another colony, however due to the way this cell was structured on the foundation I damaged it during removal with a pocket knife.


After two and half hours of driving for a $20 bug, our first colony once again has a laying queen. The new queen was installed just like that of a new package installation. Contained in her cage with several attendant bees, the queen is placed between two frames. After a few days the workers and attendants will chew through the fondant candy that serves as a time release mechanism and allows the colony to become acclimated to their new queen. There was an audible reaction from the colony as it quieted to a calm hum.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Good to be Queen

Finally spotted a queen of our own doing her thing. Anne stands out from the crowd with her long yellow abdomen and the circle of attendant bees facing her. Each of the open cells in the drawn comb has a tiny egg at the bottom which indicate a healthy queen. In about four weeks these eggs will have developed into newly emerging workers or drones.

When the Queen's Away...

The colony starts making alternate arrangements in order to replace her on their own. This supercedure cell protruding from the drawn comb contains the larvae of a replacement queen. Once our mail-order queen has been introduced this cell will be removed to prevent a battle royale and also, in theory, to ensure the most desirable queen is laying eggs. The normal hum of the hive has escalated into a higher pitch whine as the colony is in disarray. Hopefully the new queen stays on the job for more than a few weeks and gets this place in order.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Things I Didn't Know

Met with a very knowledgeable local beekeeper, Roy Hendrickson, this evening who was nice enough to take me to one of his bee yards to observe fully established and healthy hives. I have read articles of Mr. Hendrickson's from Bee Culture and was glad to have the opportunity to get some practical knowledge. Upon arrival there was a very small swarm from which Roy retrieved and caged the queen, something I had never seen done. An hour and a half with Roy was invaluable to me as a beginner beekeeper.

Also learned the difference in sensation between a bee sting to the back of my hand versus the septum of my nose. My first two stings since I have taken up this new hobby, and if given a choice I will take the hand every time.