Friday, May 11, 2012

Bees On Blossoms

We have already had various nectar flows this spring.  Here are a few pictures of the nectar flows that have been occurring in our own backyard.

First, the pear tree blossomed. 
We have only one small pear tree and I don't know of any others in the area.  This tree does not contribute a lot of pollen and nectar, but it was full of bees.  I suppose every little bit counts.  Interestingly, the pollen from the pear tree is a pale green color.... curious.  The person in the bee suit is Christina, my wife.  We had just been checking the bees and she had not taken her suit off yet.

These next two photos are pictures of bees on our pear blossoms.

We have no photos of bees on the apple tree this year. It was getting a little out of control and I pruned it way back. I think the trauma caused it to not blossom.

The dandelion bloom has been in high gear for about a week now.
This is certainly the major source of pollen and nectar right now.

These last two photos of bees on our lilacs are interesting.
We have a lilac hedge that produces tons of blossoms.  This is our fourth year with bees and I had never seen a single bee on any of the lilac blossoms.  I had always assumed that the blossoms were too deep and narrow for the bees to access the nectar in the bottom.  However, I spotted a handful of bees working the lilac blossoms the other day.  After doing a little more research I found that bees will work lilac blossoms but usually only if there is no other nectar flow.  What is strange is that while the lilacs are blooming there is a very strong dandelion nectar flow at the same time.  I don't know what made these blossoms so attractive to these bees but it was neat to see.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Russians Are Coming!

The Russians are coming!!  Actually, they already arrived.  On April 18th our package of Russian hybrids finally made it to our front porch.  We were excited to get them in the hive that we already had set up and ready to go, but the weather was rainy, windy, and cold.  The 19th was the same.  Finally, on the 20th, there was a break in the weather and we installed them in their little home.  We made it just in time I think; when I removed the feeding can I found that it was completely empty.  The following are some photos of how things went with Svetlana and how she is progressing.

This first photo is Svetlana in her package.


Three pounds of bees.  I'm not sure exactly how many bees are in there, but it is a lot.

Here we are out at the hive.  I am removing the feeder can.  The other gentleman in the bee suit is my son.  He is 14 years old and is taking more interest in working with the bees.

Here I am dumping the bees on top of the frames in the hive.
You can see some comb and some drone brood on the 3rd frame from the bottom.  I stole a frame of pollen from Georgia to get Svetlana going.  Perhaps I should have ordered some pollen patties for her but this seems to have worked okay.

Here in this photo the bees are spreading out and finding their way down into the frames.
 I removed a frame to leave a space for the queen cage.  She came in a plastic cage with a candy stopper.  It took the bees a few days to eat the candy and release her into the hive.  A few days after that she began laying eggs.

Here is a closer photo of the bees.
 These Russians seem to be a little bit darker than the Italians in our other two hives have been.

I couldn't get all the bees out of the package so I left it open by the base of the hive.
 It didn't take them long to find their way in.

Here, my son is pouring the sugar syrup into the top feeder.
 If the bees don't have either nectar or sugar syrup they will not be able to draw comb.  This gives them a good start.

Here the bees are finding their way up into the feeder.
 It didn't take them long to finish off the first gallon of syrup.

These next three photos show the progress they have been making drawing comb on the frames.

The queen started laying eggs a few days after being released.  I don't have any photos of that but she looks like she will be pretty prolific.  As of a couple of days ago she had two full frames of eggs and brood.

This is what our little apiary looks like now.  From left to right we have Ida, Georgia, and Svetlana.
No, the vine behind the hives is not dead- it is just one of the last things to green up on the spring.  This photo was actually taken after I split Georgia to create Ida.  But that will be a blog for another day.

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