Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Queen Status in the Bee Yard: Two Queens Up!

Well, we have two queen right colonies out of our three hives and the third has at least four capped queen cells so they are busy rearing new queens. All should be well in that hive in another few weeks.

May 12 -- added another frame of brood with two queen cells from the big hive to the nuc. Checked the swarmed hive and it has a laying queen. Bravo! We will call her Queen Bianca Ella (2015).

Today, May 20 -- Beautiful day in upper 70s, sunny and cloudless with light breeze. Thoroughly checked all three hives. Used a little smoke, but the bees were mostly calm. We saw Queen Anya for the first time. What a lovely lady! She is from 2014 so this is her second season. She is in the nuc so we must have inadvertently moved her last week when we took out the additional frame of brood from the large hive. That is providential because it will delay the large hive from swarming. Queen Anya's kingdom is working hard bringing in nectar and pollen so we added an additional box and rotated the hive 45 degrees back toward the southeast and the orientation of the other hives in the bee yard.. We also gave the hive a larger opening. The bees were a little confused with the changes, but will no doubt orient themselves and go home to mama.

We didn't see Queen Bianca, but saw lots of capped and uncapped brood so she is doing a good job. There are plenty of empty frames in that hive for the bees to work in so we left it as is.

The large hive (no name for now since it has no queen) is still going gangbusters bringing in nectar. There is still some capped brood from their queen right days and at least four queen cells. They may, however already have a virgin queen since they had capped queen cells last week. There are probably a dozen frames that are mostly honey but not all capped. We hope next week to have enough capped honey in that hive to replace honey frames with empty frames so the ladies have plenty of room and can continue working.

We are very pleased with the way things are going in the bee yard and hope to have a great honey harvest this year. Go, Ladies, go!

Looks like it's time to put together some new boxes so we can keep up with the bees. We only have one unused one left and we'll need that for a nuc we are getting from another beekeeping friend.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Feeding the Nuc and Watching the Hive Entrance

Since we decided to keep the nuc here in our bee yard and not take it away we will keep it closed up until tomorrow or Monday. So this morning I went out and gave the new home a half gallon of sugar water and dripped some lemon essence in the hive to give it a distinctive smell. Hopefully when we open the door and the girls go out to work, they will find their way home to the right hive instead of going back to their old home. We plan to also shift the hive a quarter turn so the entrance is not in the same plane as the mother hive. That may also help them orient to the right door.

I watched the bees in the parent hive for about fifteen minutes. Lots of activity but very few bees bringing in pollen which is necessary for brood feeding. Since brood is reduced before swarming that is probably not a good sign.

I think it's probable that swarming is going to happen and we can only hope we are around and see it so we can capture the bees. I hate to think of losing half the hive. Last year after that happened it took us the entire season to get the mother hive "queen right." And that is the weak hive we have now. It seems to be a little stronger. the past few days with more bee activity and lots of girls bringing in pollen. We plan to check that hive, perhaps on Tuesday, and see if there is any sign of a laying queen. Russians are so slow to get going that we may not see anything yet, but it's possible since they had a supersedure cell in there about a months ago.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Split the Hive Today -- Will the Bees Swarm Anyway?

We went into our strong hive today and the bees were busy making more queen cells so they are surely considering swarming. The queen has also reduced laying, another sign of her resting up before the swarm.

We couldn't find the queen (as usual) but there was capped brood and larva so she's there. I looked for eggs but couldn't see any, but that doesn't mean they weren't there. I have a hard time seeing them any time.

We took three frames of brood and bees with one capped queen cell and put it in the split. We also put in two frames packed with nectar, pollen, some capped honey, and forager bees.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Bee Management: Fun and Challenging

capped brrod and two large capped queen cells
We lost one of our three hives over the winter, not the weakest going into the fall oddly. We now have two hives, one is weak and one is strong. Since February we've been nursing along the weak hive by using the stronger hive to supplement. Two weeks ago we put two frames of brood (with a capped queen cell) from the stronger hive into the weaker. There was a capped queen cell in the small hive already. The hive was too small for any possibility of swarming, so we think the bees were superseding a queen who is a poor layer. Perhaps she wasn't mated well last year.

Today (sunny, warm, and small breeze) when we examined the weak hive most of the brood had hatched and there were lots of bees. They are bringing in pollen and nectar, but there was no sign of eggs or larvae. The hive was so calm, however, that we think they have a queen (not laying) and the capped queen cells were gone. We moved in two more frames of brood from the strong hive with two more capped queen cells into the middle frames of the middle box. We'll leave that hive alone now for two weeks and see what happens. Since queens only take 15 days to hatch and the cells are already capped they will hatch before then. Hopefully, the earlier queen (that we presume is there) will be mated and laying by then and we'll see eggs and larvae. Russian bees are notoriously slow to requeen so we figure we just need to be patient.

The strong hive is going gangbusters. That queen is a keeper. She is laying like crazy; there is plenty of brood and larvae and the workers are bringing in lots of nectar and pollen -- bright yellow and bright orange -- lovely to see. We have a honey super on top of that hive and the comb is all drawn and the bees are beginning to fill it. Hopefully we will get lots of honey this season to enjoy and share. I've promised some to the Poor Clares in Alexandria in appreciation for all the prayers for our family.

One new thing this spring is that I've been watching the bees every day with my spotting scope. It's a lot easier than trecking across the field, especially when it's wet and squishy out there. I can see them going in and out and get a good view of their pollen pockets as they enter. It's just plain fun. It will also enable the grandkids to watch the bees without getting too close although we plan to order several inexpensive bee veils so they can get out in the field close to the hives. Wish I could show you the view through the lens. Drop in and I will!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

New Baby...New Song of Celebration!

Our twenty-third grandchild was born early yesterday morning and he is definitely a keeper. Little Charlie Francis is as sweet as can be and already stole the hearts of his mom, dad, sister, brothers, and grandparents...oh and aunts, uncles, and cousins. Welcome to the family, Baby Charlie!

For the past few grandbabies, I've made a practice of giving them a special song. Here is little Charlie's to the tune of Here Comes Peter Cottontail.  It had to be that song because Charlie's parents gave the next youngest grandson, Max, a singing bunny for his first birthday on Easter Saturday. It is the rabbit from hell in the opinion of Max's mommy. (She didn't say that, but she left it our house and threatened to re-gift it back to the giver.) Max, however, loves it and starts dancing whenever he hears it play.

So here's Charlie's song. No doubt there will be more verses. I think of them while I'm lying in bed at night. Doesn't everybody go to sleep making up verses for silly songs?

Charlie is our baby boy,
And he fills our hearts with joy,
Keeps us smilin' and laughin' all day long.
All his siblings love him so,
Cuz he's the perfect little bro,
And he's the inspiration for this song.

He makes little coos for Mommy
Gives a finger squeeze to Dad.
There's a smile for sister Rachel,
And for Alex, Zack, and Matt.

Oh...Charlie is our precious boy,
And he fills our hearts with joy.
So we'll sing his praises all day long!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Time for the Princess (and little prince) Tea Party

The princess tea party was lots of fun, but all the participants agreed that getting ready for it was the best part. I think they are all caterers in training. Nevertheless, everyone enjoyed the good eating and we all talked princess talk. Each of the girls has a favorite princess. Belle got one vote. Ariel got one. Cinderella got two, and there was another princess I never heard of. Guess I just am not up on my princesses.

Anyway, check out the princesses (and the little prince) in their party attire and the tea table in its best dressed splendor.

Welcome to the princess (and prince) tea party.

A tea table fit for a king and his princesses and prince.

Teapots all ready with lemonade and apple juice "teas"

Each princess has her own special and unique place setting compliments of their great grandmother who used these settings for her bridge club. They were hand painted in 1911.

 Ready to pray and enjoy the fruits of all their preparations.

We begin as we begin all good things...In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit....

The little prince was all dolled up and ready to eat cupcakes, the thing he liked best.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Prepping for the Tea Party

We've been busy today getting ready for the tea party: making placecards, baking and decorating mini cupcakes, collecting flowers, and doing beautiful napkin folding. The older girls did the baking and napkins and all of us collected around the table with colored frosting and sprinkles to decorate the cupcakes. Tonight they will pick out their princess outfits and tomorrow we will make the tea sandwiches and set the table. We couldn't do the table today because we are gathering around it tonight for dinner. Check out all our busyness today and start planning your own princess tea. We will have one little prince among us, Max the Wild Thing who will definitely enjoy the cupcakes! Check back tomorrow to see the tea party pictures.

 Grace was the placecard maker and napkin folder.

Good job, Grace. They look beautiful!

Mia mixed and baked the mini cupcakes.

Everybody had fun decorating them.

Can you tell Bianca likes pink frosting?

Grace and Grandma got lots of practice folding the napkins. 
This is a lily fold. It's just like origami only with cloth.

And daffodils are the perfect centerpiece. So cheerful.

And here's Max the Wild Thing, the only little prince at the princess teaparty.