Thursday, April 10, 2014

Splitting the Bee Hives

We examined our hives last week on a nice warm day and, oh my, the queens are doing an incredible job of providing workers for the nectar season. Such a good job that we need to split the hives and hopefully prevent swarming. We sure wouldn't want to lose these two ladies with another good year of laying ahead. So the past few days,

1) Larry went to the bee store to buy new equipment while I played with two little girls whose mommy just had a new baby.

2) Larry and Bianca put the boxes together.

3) Marianna and I filled the frames with wax foundation (sort of like a blueprint for the bees to draw honeycomb).

4)The girls helped us prime the boxes before they went home to love up their new baby brother.

5) Larry and I finished the painting the next day. (I love the green and yellow!)

6) Then we went out to play with the bees and introduce them to their new homes. Lots of fuzzy, healthy looking Spring newbees! We couldn't find the queen and ended up making a nuke with four frames of bees including queen cells with larvae and a frame of capped honey. We left active queen cells in the old hive as well.

7) Next to the last step, take the nuke to a temporary location so the foragers don't return to the original hives and leave the queen and nurse bees without outside workers. My brother's house several miles away makes a perfect temporary home away from home for the new nuke hive.

Bianca keeps an eye on the hive that will house "Queen Bianca" and her court.
(From a safe distance. She knows that, "Bees sting me.")

8) Last step will be to bring them back to our bee yard after a week or two when we see that a new queen is established and laying.

NB. We didn't get into our other hive until the next day when we realized Queen Elizabeth must have swarmed because there were at least twice as many bees in Queen Ann's hive and it was always the weaker colony. We put an extra super on to give them more room, but expect Queen Ann will swarm and hope we will be able to catch her and her court before they disappear. It will be an interesting new experience for us if we do. Meanwhile, the bees are busy as can bee and the early nectar flow is in progress.

Queen Bees: Queen Marianna and Queen Bianca

We are in the process of expanding our hives and it appears one of our original queens swarmed with a bunch of her followers. After searching around the current hive location we saw no evidence of the swarm so they obviously have headed to a new home. So we are now waiting for the bees to finish raising a new queen to the throne. My friend Dan sent the following picture which I love! When the new queen is crowned we will name her Queen Marianna after one of our little beekeeping helpers. We also have a nuke hive from the original with queen cells and that hive will have Queen Bianca in their court. We look forward to these two new queens doing a good job at producing top quality honey for the two our two little queen helpers! Thanks, Dan for the great picture!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Fun: It Didn't Feel Like Servile Work!

It occurred to me while we were making bee boxes today and filling bee frames with wax foundation that perhaps that is "servile work" that shouldn't be done on Sunday.

On the other hand, when something is so much fun it brings a smile to your face, how can it possibly be classified as work?

 Especially when you are doing it with two little girls who think it's the most fun on the face of the planet?

Whenever we go into our bee hives I tell people I'm going out to "play with the bees."

So, what do you think? Did we do servile work today? Or celebrate Sunday joy with our two little granddaughters?