Monday, June 11, 2012

Honey Is On Its Way

When the alfalfa and the Russian olives started blooming a couple of weeks ago I put two supers on both Ida and Georgia.  I always feel optimistic about the first alfalfa nectar flow and hope the bees will need two supers to contain all the nectar they are bringing in.  It never happens that way though-  it is a long slow process with the bees steadily bringing in nectar all summer long.  By the end of the summer I expect to have three (maybe four if it is a good year) supers on each hive.

As I checked the hives today I found that both Ida and Georgia have some nectar on their second super.  There is not a lot, just a little in a few frames.  In their first supers they both have at least some nectar in every frame.  Here is s picture of the nectar they are collecting.
I think, if you zoom in on the picture, you can see the sun reflecting off the nectar in the center right part of the frame.  This was photo is from Georgia and was actually taken last week.  I did not have the camera with me today.

Ida is ahead of Georgia in both nectar collection and population.  Ida has three or four frames in her super that are almost completely full of nectar.  I expect to see some capped honey next week.

Svetlana is slowly progressing.  I have been feeding her sugar syrup to help her draw comb on the frames in her two deep hive bodies.  I thought she would be all filled out and ready for her first honey super today, but she still has a couple of frames to draw before that can happen.  I will make her more sugar syrup today.  I think that by next week she should be ready to go, and we will have honey on its way from all three hives.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

We Are Not Queenless

I guess that title might make it sound like I am talking about Queen Elizabeth's 60 year jubilee, but I am not. I am talking about the hives and specifically, Georgia. Let me explain the back story.

Our little apiary consists of three hives: Georgia, Ida, and Svetlana.  Svetlana is the new hive of Russian hybrids we set up from a package this spring.  Georgia is one of our original hives we installed back in 2009- boy does time fly!  Ida was created when we split Georgia earlier this spring and moved half of Georgia's bees (with the queen) into Virginia's old digs.  Virginia died out after going queenless and developing laying workers late last summer.  Are you with me so far?

The Italian mutt queen that was in Georgia got moved over to Ida during the split.  She has continued to lay eggs and has kept that hive good and healthy.  As Georgia was then queenless, we ordered a new queen from the Walter T Kelley beekeeping supply company.  We ended up getting a Carniolan queen who had been bred with Minnesota Hygienic drones.  Minnesota Hygienic bees are Italian's that have been selected for increased hygienic behavior- they keep the hive cleaner and are thus more "resistant" to mites and other diseases.  Georgia's bee seemed to accept her very well and a week later I  found some eggs in the hive- not a lot, but some.  I figured we were on our way to a good year.

The next week I checked on her again but found no eggs at all.  I was discouraged.  I removed a frame of very young larva from Ida and put them in Georgia so they could make their own queen.  I went back again a week after that to make sure they were making supercedure cells for a new queen but found none.  Instead, I found... eggs!  It has been a roller coaster.

It has now been a couple of weeks and I thought I better check the hives again.  I wanted to check everyone for swarm cells and I also just wanted to make sure that everyone was queen right.  Ida and Svetlana are doing great queen-wise, but I was still a little worried about Georgia.  As I started going through her hive I only saw empty frames and some honey.  On the fourth frame I pulled I found a bunch of brood- capped and uncapped, but I wanted to see eggs.  On the fifth frame I also found brood but no eggs- but right there on to of the frame was the big plump queen.  Can you spot her in these first two photos?

Here is a close up of her majesty.
Isn't she beautiful?  Better looking than Queen Elizabeth, I think.  This week I choose to celebrate the reign of Georgia's queen.  May she live long and lay lots of eggs!

It does feel good to be queen right in all three hives!!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Calling The Bees Home

I got to see something last night that I have never seen before, and it was really quite amazing.  I wandered out to the garden last evening right at dusk and, as it turns out, about 15 minutes before it started to rain.  As I got close to the hives I noticed that there were a lot of bees coming home.  The more closely I looked the more bees I could see.  They were coming in from all directions.  I knelt down next to one of the hives and looked out and up at about a 50-60 degree angle and, over the course of a few minutes, saw thousands of bees flying straight toward me and landing on the front porches of the hives next to me.  It was quite a sight.

I wonder if they were just coming home for the evening all at the same time or if they sensed that the rain was about to fall and that caused them all to return at once.  I would have liked to have somehow gotten a picture but I really don't think a camera would have been able to pick it all up.

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