Thursday, April 29, 2010

Master Beekeeper's visit

Wednesday night a Master Beekeeper, Randall, stopped by on his way home from work to look at our colonies. He is a member of the local beekeepers association and had been communicating by email about our supersedure questions.

Green hive was first. Randall donned his veil which surprised me but he said he does not want to get stung in the eyes and they seem to like his hair. He also sports a beard and we have heard from other beekeepers that sometimes the bees get in their beards. We smoked the hive and opened it. First we removed one of the outer frames that did not have any comb on it yet. Then he proceeded to take out each frame one at a time and examine them. The first frame with many bees on it - he dropped it. We stepped back not knowing how they would react. They did not get upset. This could send them into attack mode but it did not.

He found some brood, not a lot. A few supersedure cells that were capped. A fair amount of honey capped, lots of cells uncapped with nectar in them. No larvae were found and there should have been a fair amount.

The conclusion is that there was a queen who laid a few eggs. She is either gone (died) or not doing a good job. The workers decided to try and raise another queen.

Options include. Let everything alone and see if they can raise a queen successfully. In about 7 days she will emerge. Another 3 days and she will be sexually mature and fly off to mate. A few more days and she will start laying.

Another option is to remove all supersedure cells and purchase another queen.

We have chosen to follow the first option and see if nature will take care of it. We will look in the hive about once a week to see if we have any brood. Worst case they are not successful and we add a queen in a few weeks. We can then take a frame of healthy brood from the other hive and put in this one to give them some worker bees.
Once Zack had a bee in his buzz cut hair that was buzzing. He wanted to swat at it. I calmly removed the buzzy bee and he donned his veil. No one got stung during the whole process.

Yellow hive. This is the one we were first concerned about. Randall looked in this one as well. We were all pleased to see brood about to emerge, larvae in all stages, lots of workers. Best of all we found the queen. She is young but is doing a relatively good job. You can tell she is young because she still has hairs on her thorax which will wear off after a while. It took a long time to find her and she was busy laying eggs.
Yeah! You go queenie.

Randall's comments all through the inspection included, "these are such sweet bees". We were proud parents.

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