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!

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