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.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Dandelion Wine and the Virtue of Patience

 Every year I look at our bumper crop of dandelions and think, "I should make dandelion wine." Well, this year I finally did it, or, more accurately, I am doing it.

The other day, Larry and I picked two quarts of flowers, I trimmed them of stems and as much of the green as a scissors could remove, and began the process. After pouring boiling water over the flowers and several sliced lemons, I let them sit three days. Today I made the "infusion," adding 4 cups of sugar sugar, a cup of orange juice, a 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and a cup of cut up dried apricots to give it a little more body. (I sound like I know what I'm doing, right?)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Finally! The Weather Cooperated and We Split the Hive.

Two 3-box hives with a hive base ready for the split.
What weather. For the past few weeks we've had freeze warnings several days and it's been pretty windy -- not ideal conditions for opening the hives. Today finally, we got an afternoon in the mid 60s with slight wind so we took advantage to make a split of our big hive. We only dealt with that one and will check out the weaker hive, Queen Bianca, later.

We could have made a couple of nukes from Queen Anya's hive, but decided to just split it in half to discourage swarming. We saw the queen, a big beauty. She's in her third year and may swarm anyway, but hopefully by splitting we've created an artificial swarm and she'll think they did it already.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring Checkup: How Are the Girls Doing?

Fine actually. We checked on Monday April 4th to see if there were any signs of swarming. Bianca's realm was quiet. The queen is laying brood. We saw both capped and uncapped, but no drones to speak of and no queen cells. Not much chance this weaker hive will swarm.

Anya's kingdom was much busier with lots of workers, drones and drone brood. We decided we would split as soon as possible and put a queen excluder between the two lower boxes to make it easier to find the queen. But the weather has gotten colder and we decided today to take the excluder out so the bees can make the decision about the best place for the queen to protect her from the cold. It got down to 24 last night and later this week it's supposed to get back down in the 20s. So we'll wait to do a split when we get a warm day next week. Hopefully, all will be well until then.

We did a very quick in and out today to take out the excluder but it wasn't fast enough to prevent me getting stung on the ankle. When will I learn? I changed my black pants for light blue jeans but left on my black socks. The girls REALLY REALLY hate black.

So I'm taking benadryl because my entire body was itching. That quieted things down and now only my ankle is itching and swelling. I keep hoping to get to the point where stings give me no significant reaction, but it hasn't happened yet.