Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Beginning Our 5th Year of Beekeeping and Just Collected Our First Swarm!

Five years ago this May we acquired two nucleus hives from a beekeeper in Fort Valley who has since retired. We can never thank Frank enough for helping us get a good start with this fascinating hobby. He and our square dancing buddy, Gordon, a professional beekeeper who once had 500 hives taught us what to do, rescued us when we had queen problems, and were always there with a wise word to the ignorant.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Well...that was interesting! Was that a Queen?

I went out to feed two of the nuke hives which are weak and don't have enough foragers. They probably have queens at this point, but they won't be laying for another five or six days.

But what really struck me as I examined the hives was that there was a bee on the side of one of the boxes that appeared to be a queen. I'm guessing she was either returning or getting ready to head out for her maiden flight. Later in the week we'll check all the hives to see whether they are queen right. And then we'll see where this wonderful 2017 bee season goes.

The early nectar flow has been great. We've had bees on our apple blossoms and on the red bud. I've also seen them on the dandelions and on some trees with white blossoms that I don't recognize.

The bee yard is still somewhat stirred up after the bear attack, but it's not a very nice day -- overcast and raining earlier. They don't like that either. So next visit I'll stoke up the smoker and use it. Several bees buzzed me all the way back to the house. They generally don't do that when it's bright and sunny.

But the bear situation seems to be resolved with the electric fence.

Easter Sunday Celebration

What a fun day with one of our daughters and her family and a friend with her sister and their children. The weather was beautiful. The food was abundant and delicious. The children enjoyed biking, swinging, see-sawing, and the egg hunt. And the conversations were interesting. No one wanted to go home.

I call that a perfect day! Praised be to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Holy Saturday preparations and the Easter celebration:

The lamb cake was a little droopy headed -- a straw fixed that.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bears: The Weapon of Mass Destruction to a Beekeeper!

Not a pretty sight, eh? Botox lips for free.
On Wednesday we were doing some work with two of our behives -- moving a frame of brood from a
queen-right hive to a queenless hive. After we finished that in our satellite bee yard, I went down to check out the four hives in the lower yard. Unfortunately I took my veil off since I wasn't going to be working with the bees, but something attracted one of the girls to my face and she stung me on the lip. My whole face started to swell and we decided I better go to the emergency room. So I spent several hours being pumped full of steroids, anti-histamines, and anti-itch meds along with some anti-nausea medicine since I was feeling sick to my stomach.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Queen Cells Galore! Making Nukes!

What a difference two weeks make. We decided to divide Rachel's hive today and when we opened
up the box we found lots of queen cells, loads of bees, some capped and uncapped brood, but no eggs and no sign of a queen. We wondered if we "rolled the queen" when we checked, but there was one capped swarm cell and those are made when the hive is getting ready to swarm. The workers build an egg cup, and the queen lays an egg in it. We didn't see that when we checked the hive two weeks ago so she was likely in the hive then.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Lesson Learned! Check the Bees Before You Go to buy More Equipment!

So frustrating. We thought we had three active hives and would have to divide all three which would give us six hives. All three hives had bees carrying in pollen, a sign of brood feeding, but when we checked the middle box today there was no brood -- not a bit. So the bees we've seen coming and going must be robber bees. Darn! There were no dead bees so apparently this hive absconded late in the fall. There was lots of capped honey but most likely it's sugar water from feeding so we took the hive down and brought it inside after dark. We'll freeze those full frames and use them for feeding next fall. But what a disappointment!