Monday, March 29, 2010

The Long Days Of Spring

Here we are at the end of March. These spring months seem ot go by so slowly. It seems as though, since winter is over, it should be time to warm up, for flowers and trees to blossom, and nectar to start flowing. But the dandelions and pussywillows haven't even blossomed yet. So here we go, passing time feeding the bees and hoping they don't swarm.

The weather today cooperated for the most part and I had a day off, so we decided to venture into the hives and see what was going on.

We decided to take on Gerogia first. The first couple of frames were full of sugar syrup/honey, and then we pulled out this. At first glance we thought we were looking at a row of swarm cells along the bottom, but on closer inspection they turned out to be a bunch of drone cells. Whew! Gerogia is the hive that we are concerned about swarming. It is so strong and so full of bees, we hope we can keep them from trying to find another home.

Later on we came to some frames that looked more like this. You can see lots of capped brood. This frame was taken from Georgia's upper brood chamber. As we moved into the lower brood chamber we came across lots of eggs and larva that had not been capped. We had been planning on swapping the brood boxes to make sure the queen got moved to the lower chamber in order to prevent swarming, but it looks like she decided to move down on her own.

This was one of the first frames we pulled out of Virginia. You can see capped honey/sugar syrup next to empty comb. We just thought this was a curious pattern. The comb containing the honey has been drawn out further than the empty comb. Maybe the bees are planning on drawing out the rest of the comb and filling it up later? Who knows.

Here is a frame from Virginia's upper deep. You can see that there is plenty of capped brood. If you click on the photo to get a larger view, you can see different stages of larva as well. Of course there is capped honey up in the corners. There is pollen stored in the strip between the brood and the honey. This is a good frame to show the pattern of brood, honey, and pollen in the brood nest.

This photo is also from Virginia. Virginia had been a more aggressive colony and her numbers dwindled last summer so we had been worried about her queen. If you click on the photo you can see the eggs in the cells just to the right of the bees; there is a single egg in each cell. This means that the queen is laying and that she has been here within the last 3 days. If there had been more than one egg in each cell that would mean we have a laying worker. A laying worker develops when the hive has gone queenless and one of the new worker bees develops sexually and begins laying eggs. This is bad because, since the worker does not mate, all the resulting bees are drones. If not remedied, this spells the end of the colony. Even though Virginia's queen is around and laying we would still like to replace her. Since her bees are more aggressive and didn't produce as well as Georgia's, we hope a new queen with better leadership skills will improve their temperament and work ethic.

We took this opportunity to clean out underneath Virginia's hive. Bits and pieces of wax, pollen etc. fall through the screened bottom board and accumulate below. Underneath Virginia we found bits of wax, pollen, sugar that had fallen down from the mountain camp feeding earlier this winter, a few dead bees that had crawled underneath, and these strange little, red, shell-like pieces. They kind of remind us of miniature popcorn hulls. Click on the photo to see them close up. Any idea what they are? Anyway- what we didn't see were mites. And that is a good thing.

As we were cleaning up this little girl decided to stop by for a snack. I had gotten a little honey on my glove and Lucy here decided to pay us a visit before we went inside.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...