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.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two Colonies and One Queen

The good news this evening is that Q. Anne and her colony seem to have normalized a bit. Apparently it can be somewhat stressful to be packaged in a small screen box along with a soup can of corn syrup and ten thousand of your siblings, having no ability to "relieve" yourself. A day of sun and cleansing flights has them in good spirits.

On the other hand Q. Catherine is nowhere to be found and her brood has been busy making supercedure cells in order to replace her. Not sure if she caught word of Anne's arrival or stepped out for a spot of tea but we are now scrambling for a new queen to continue populating the colony. Should have a new queen in a day at which time she will either be accepted by her new colony or summarily stung to death by them...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Not Just Rain Falling from the Sky...

After a few hours in their home the new bees began an aerial assault by defecating all over the new hive boxes, and continued doing so the following day. We are hoping it is not nosema apis and just a result of the stress caused during transport, and also from being confined first to the packet and now the hive due to the rain. However we started treating with Fumagilin-B, along with the initial colony as a preventative measure.

Very disconcerting to see the mess these little buggers can make in a day. If they do not show signs of improvement in the next five days we are going to test some samples for nosema and, if present, eradicate the colony to prevent it from spreading.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Queen Anne

We travelled to Findlay over the weekend and picked up our second package of bees. Queen Anne is installed and we are waiting out the rain, anxious to see how the colony progresses.