Monday, May 18, 2009

in the words of Tom Petty... the waiting is the hardest part

We checked on the bees this evening. It had been 2 weeks since our last visit when we removed their sugar water food source and 4 weeks since installation. Wow, they really look good! The son-in-law of the folks who's land we have the hive on was there too today; just in town for 10 days to paint their house. I don't think he actively has bees but does seem to know a bit about them.

So, we pulled a few frames and took a look. Saw lots of brood and even had a few pupae fall out from a frame. The frames were noticeably heavier too. When watching my wife pull out frames I thought I saw some liquid too.... We didn't see the queen but at least saw a lot of activity. It even seemed like more bees were around.

The son-in-law with us mentioned about not disturbing the hive too much and he is right. Each time we do take a look some of the comb gets broke, pupae may fall out or get crushed, and I'm sure it must stress them out a bit. So it's the waiting game now. We'll probably check in with them again in two weeks or so but will try to not actually pull any frames unless we think we need to. I actually came across a good posting today about how to inspect bee hives on Linda's Bees site. She has a LOT of good stuff on her site and I read it often.

So, there was one thing I thought was kind of exciting tonight. Remember I said I saw some liquid drop? When I was putting away the smoker I saw a drop of liquid on it too. Sticky liquid.... Honey? or just nectar? I'm gonna say honey which is kind of exciting. They are producing and eventually we should get some honey harvested. Awesome!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Nashville Bees

Another article I came across today with bees swarming in the news. This one was not nearly as sensational as the previous one I pointed out, but brief, to the point, and it showed the correct way to handle a swam of bees. Call a professional. Nothing negative at all and they even shared a positive about pollination from bees. Good job News Channel 5!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bee hysteria!

I stumbled across this headline in my rss feeds of news stories about honeybees.
Woman trapped by garden bee swarm

Of course with a headline like that I had to read it. Turns out a woman in the UK had a swam of bees settle into her garden tree. She says she closed all her window and doors to keep the bees out but no where does she indicate being "trapped". In fact she even has close up pictures of the swarm in her tree, so obviously she was not trapped anywhere. The article also quotes the woman as saying that a neighbor had just gotten a bee hive and maybe that is where they swarmed from.

But of course making it sound like the evil bees trapped this lady I'm sure made more people read.

Bees (and many other insects for that matter) really get a bad rap sometimes. While this article does not explicitly say anything bad about them, it also does nothing to share the good bees do or dispel the myth of how dangerous they are. I've never seen an actual swarm in person, but everything I've read indicates that they are actually very docile during this process. All they want to do is protect the queen and find a new home.

Recently in the press most articles I've read are "bee positive" and not fear invoking like this one. The whole colony collapse issue has brought honeybees more front and center with people seeing how important they are. As amateur bee keepers we do all we can to help promote bees and spread the message about how important and friendly they really are. We should all keep eyes on sensational headlines and do what we can to set stories about bees straight.

Monday, May 4, 2009

We have brood!!!

It's now been 15 days since we installed the bees. We went out tonight with a fresh batch of sugar water planning to fill them up. But when we took a look inside.... we don't think they need any more supplemental feeding!!!

We used our smoker for the first time so we'd feel comfortable pulling all the frames and really getting a good look. There was some comb built on all eight frames. One frame we saw where they had capped some honey (or soon to be honey). As we moved further to the center we started seeing eggs inside some of the cells. Then we saw capped cells and even many larva in uncapped cells. Click the picture on the right to get a bigger view and you will see the larva which look like little white worms.

We also saw a few capped cells that were larger and probably contain drones. We have not seen any live drones yet, but these are the "boys". The hive will produce many of them and their sole purpose is to mate with queens. Sounds like a rough life.

So, this was a really cool visit tonight. The queen seems to really be doing her job well and the hive seems healthy. Since we now have new bees on the way (called brood) we decided there was no more need for supplemental feeding and thus pulled the sugar water feeder out. It was completely empty which means they have gone through a total of 2 gallons of the stuff in the last two weeks. In its place we put in two empty frames so that a full 10 are now there. Exciting times!!!

Now what? I guess we wait. We do not have a clear plan of what is next but since they seem to be doing great and will soon have many new bees flying around we've started talking about enlarging their home. Any advice from readers out there? Do we add on another deep body next or go right for a smaller super with queen excluder between? From most of the catalogs they often show 2 deep bodies with 2 supers on top for honey harvesting. We'll have to do some research and think about what we want to do. I can almost taste the honey already.