Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 24: Still No Laying Queen Rachel

Gorgeous day today, nice and warm with slight breeze -- perfect weather for a bee inspection. We only examined Queen Bianca's hive and what will be Queen Rachel's. Still no laying queen in Rachel's hive but two queen cells -- one in the middle of a frame (a supercedure cell) and one at the bottom (usually swarm cells, although this hive can't possibly be getting ready to swarm). All the brood we put in ten days ago has either hatched or is now capped.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Rainbow Kind of Day...

...dark clouds and rain one minute, brilliant sun the next. And what does that mean?




Friday, May 13, 2016

Well, What Do You Know! Black Pollen!

I was out putting another box on our small hive this afternoon and spent about ten minutes watching the girls going in and out. I noticed a number of bees with BLACK pollen. I've never seen that before so I came in and did a search. I found a blog that described black and white pollen from poppies. I noticed the wild orange poppies blooming a few days ago so I'm guessing that's where it'c coming from. It'a a little hard to see against a black and yellow bee, but notice the seed-shaped black pollen on the bee below right under the line of the wing. I've seen yellow, orange, red, greyish-green, but this is the first time I've EVER seen black. Go, girls, go! See more photos at the TrogTrogBlog.




Thursday, May 12, 2016

May 12 Bee Inspection: Illegal Immigrant Ants in Anya's Kingdom!

Well we checked out all three hives and, despite all the rain, they are busy collecting nectar and capping honey. Starting with the new hive, we looked for a queen, but didn't see one. The queen cell was open and the hive was calm so it's likely they have a queen who may not be mated yet or is mated but hasn't started to lay. All the brood in the hive has hatched so, in case they don't have a queen at all, we took two frames of brood including eggs from Bianca' hive and put them in. If there's no queen, they'll raise one. We'll add a third box on that hive because most of the frames are full of bee bread and nectar.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Adding boxes to the Hives

The weather has been very uncooperative from a beekeeping point of view. We have wanted to examine the hives for the past week, but between rain, wind, and commitments, sunshine and opportunity have not met.

Today, despite the rain we had a window of dry, so we added boxes to Queen Bianca and Queen Anya's kingdoms. That only takes about a minute: take off the top, take off the inner cover, add the new box and replace the inner and outer covers.

I spent about an hour cleaning up boxes and frames for the addition and we now have three hives with four boxes on Bianca's hive (which was not split), four on Queen Anya's and two on the new hive.  We still need to get in there to look for evidence of a laying queen. No need to add another box there until we have new brood hatching which takes about .With all the rain we fear the queen, even if present, may not have been able to get our for a mating flight. It will be a month since we made the split on May 14th and hopefully we'll have good weather by then to check things out.

We also need to see if Queen Bianca is thinking of swarming. She wasn't two weeks ago, but things can change rapidly in the Spring. So that's our status as of today. Now we just need better weather so the girls can go to work collecting nectar to make honey.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 24 -- Examining Queen Bianca's Hive and watching entrances

The day was great for examination: warm, sunny, slight breeze -- perfect! The bees were calm and placid. We didn't need a smoker. Nobody got stirred up even as we moved from one box to another.

Queen Bianca is doing great! She's a 2015 girl, but today when we checked there was plenty of capped and uncapped brood in all three boxes. She's definitely still young and vibrant. No sign of swarming: no backfilling, not too many drone brood, and no queen cells. But they are doing a bang up job bringing in nectar so in the next few days we'll add a honey super so they can get to work making lots of good stuff for the honey harvest.

It's too early to check Queen Rachel's hive and see if she's laying. Another week or too before we disturb her kingdom. The bees were coming and going from Queen Anya's hive bringing in pollen so things there seem to be okay. Hopefully within the next week or two all three colonies will be queen right and busy-busy. 

Just to remind myself. From left to right facing the hives we have Bianca (2015) on the left, Anya (2014 babe) in the middle and soon to be Rachel on the right. That should be easy to remember. We're raising the B-A-R and hopeful that all goes well this season.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

April 19: Lots of Drones at the Queenless Hive

I went out and watched the bees on Tuesday. The walkaway split with the old queen is finally showing signs of forager bees going in and out. The most active hive is the mother hive that is currently queenless. There were drones going in and out, which I suppose is a good sign since a hive that needs to produce a new queen also needs drones who fly out to the mating area. Hopefully the queen will be fertilized by others than her own children to keep the genetics strong and diversified. I'll ask at our bee meeting tonight and see what the experts have to say. Meanwhile, we're praying for a little rain because it's been really dry the past few weeks and that can't be good for the nectar flow. A little rain please Lord.