Friday, May 28, 2010

Bring water girls

It is really hot here the last few days. Bees gather any place they can find water. This is just a few at the bird feeder. I tried until the battery died to get a picture with lots more bees but they will not hold still.
Worker bees in the hive give the word as to what is needed, pollen, nectar, or water. Obviously water is needed in the hive today.
How do they let the foragers know what is needed? Well if the hive needs water and a bee comes in loaded with pollen, the workers ignore her. They let her wait while they rush to gather water from other bees. After that she says "hey to get attention, I need to bring water." It is no fun sitting around waiting for someone to unload your heavy load of pollen.

It looks like word is out for water.

A ligustrum hedge about 20 feet tall is blooming in our yard and it is full of butterflies, bumble bees, honey bees, and a multitude of bees. There were so many butterflies when I took these pictures, I could not count them. Much less be able to count the bees.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Congratulations to Green Hive Queen

It is confirmed. We are expecting.

On April 28 we had the help of a Master Beekeeper to inspect the green hive. There was no sign of a queen, no brood at all. There had been supersedure cells which indicated they were trying to rear a replacement queen. We waited to see if they were successful.

This week we placed an order for a queen and the provider advised that it takes several weeks for the new queen to get going and we should check again before picking up the new queen.
Today we opened the green hive and were so excited to find brood. Capped brood and larvae. There were probably eggs but they are so difficult to see. We did not waste time in the hive because it is an overcast day and they are struggling. We did not look for the queen as this can take quite a bit of time, unless you just get lucky.
There are three frames with brood. Nice honey arches and plenty of pollen.

We would have lost this colony if green queen had not gotten busy. Worker bees only live about six weeks during the busy season. They have to be raising their replacements before they all die off or you could loose the colony.
Yeah! This colony has a chance of surviving.

Yellow hive is thriving and we will soon add another brood chamber.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Not bees, but birds

I could not resist posting these pictures and yes they have nothing to do with bees. The Carolina Wrens are not choosey where they build their nests. We have had them in the garage, means you have to leave the door open, on the garden hose doo-hickey that you roll the hose onto, on the tops of rakes leaning against the garage, and on almost every hanging basket we have.
Imagine trying to grill on this grill.

I confess this grill was destined for the recycle dump. But that will have to wait.

Five beautiful speckled eggs. Quickly close the lid so mama can get back in and sit. Is that cat hair in the nest?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Update on queen watch

Saturday, May 8th we went back into the "green hive" which is our problem hive. Good news: The capped brood had emerged. Bad news: no sign of new larvae. There was plenty of capped and open cell honey. But it looks like this hive is queenless. There had been a queen but she appears to be gone. We were hoping that they had raised a new queen but no signs yet. Since it takes a few days for her to mature, mate and begin laying eggs we will go back into the hive and take a look in a few days. Then we may have to "requeen". In beekeeper lingo that means purchase a new queen.
Time is running out because workers only live about six weeks and you need workers to raise the new young once the eggs have been laid.

On a more positive note, our other hive, the "yellow hive" is doing well. These are pictures of a frame with capped bood. It is sort of a yellow color and in the middle of the frame. At the top you see white caps, that is capped honey. This is called a honey arch and it is a good sign.

We were able to see larvae in cells in this hive. Everything seems to be on track. We were also lucky to spot the queen, she was hard at work.

Here are pictures of Zack our beekeeper in training.

No gloves, only a veil to keep them out of his hair.

This frame does not have honey or brood yet, they are just working on drawing out the comb. There are nine frames in each of our hives so it takes quite a bit of time to get them all drawn out and filled.

Checking out the frame, looking for eggs.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Queen watch

Sunday, May 2 we took a quick peek in the green hive. We had marked the frame with the supersedure cells with a thumb tack so we could find it quickly. After a short smoke we opened the hive and removed one frame #1. The outside frames are not yet built up with comb and removing one allows you to lift out the frames that are built out and covered with busy bees.

There had been three supersedure cells on the marked frame. The first one we looked at was open at the bottom. These cells are roughly in the shape of a peanut shell. Opened a the bottom means the queen has emerged. The other two cells were opened at the middle which means the new queen found them and disposed of the competition.

We looked for a while trying to spot her but did not find her. Hopefully she has flown off to mate. The queen matures after three days and takes flight to mate. She will find where the drones hang out. They have a congregation spot, kinda like teenage boys hanging out on Main Street hoping to meet girls. Drones will be there from other hives so this keeps the gene pool good. There do not need to be drones in the colony for the queen to go on her flight and find them.

There are a few capped brood cells on this frame. No sign of eggs or larvae. All other frames have honey, pollen, and nectar but no brood cells. We will check back in a few days.

In retrospect we should not have removed the supersedure cells that we found at first. We should mark the queen for easy identification. Next time we purchase a queen we will asked for her to be marked. It is often difficult to find the queen among several thousand workers.