Thursday, August 13, 2009

Don't let go

I have been so slack on updating this blog. I've been really busy with this particular hive. Remember the last post about European foul brood? Well, from what I've read it's not uncommon for all hives to have a small amount of this going usually goes undetected and the bees take care of it. If it's a healthy strong hive that is. Which this is a strong hive but something happened to their queen and they've been on a steady decline. In the last post I mentioned they were possibly without a queen so I went back in to make sure and for sure there was no queen. My husband and I spent a whole morning taking the hive apart (this is a good thing to do every couple of months or'll see why) This is so neat how they link together holding on to each other. On the very bottom underneath the screened bottom board (we use these because of the heat and humidity in our region) there was a couple of spiders, this one is a black widow. On the other end was a different spider with 3 balls of eggs. I took them over to a wooded spot and let them go there.
On the very bottom of the platform that we had the hive setting on were these pest again! Wax moths....they hatched in the debris that fell down through the screened bottom board. We done away with this platform and just went back with cinder blocks. It's better ventilation anyway.
When you have a worker bee that has turned herself into an egg laying bee, she thinks she's the queen and so do the other bees. But this is their downfall. She can only lay male bees (drones) they have nothing to add to the hive . Their only purpose is to mate with the queen. I'm partial to mine and like to think that ours are also taste testers of the honey....I've seen them with their heads in the nectar cells eating and told my husband they tell the girls when it's time to cap the honey:O) Anyway with no queen laying worker bees (females) to keep the hive producing pollen and honey, the hive dies out, and this can happen very quickly!
So we took the hive apart....we took the hive across the yard (supposed to be at least 100 yards, but we didn't have that much yard without infringing on the other hives, so we went maybe 60-70yards) and brushed off all of the have to make sure every last bee is off of the frame. You don't want to take the risk of the layer bee to be left on there. In theory the layer bee is what they call a nurse bee...meaning that she has never taken flight. Her job until she reaches age is to take care of the brood. Honey bees go through several roles during their short time here on earth. I'll post about that another time, if I go there now I'm liable to never finish this story! Again in theory since she has never taken flight she will be left where she was brushed (I so hated to do that but we had to, to save the hive).
We went to a Honey bee Apiary that's a little over an hour west of here and bought a queen. We met the owner whose a forth generation of beekeepers and he spent quite a bit of time talking with us. The staff were also very sweet and showed us a letter they had just gotten from Egypt. They ship all over the world and are world renown for their queen bees. We didn't know that... funny how you can live close to something so popular and never even know it, huh? Wilbanks Apiaries
(The pictures got mixed the next one with the blue gloves is the one I wanted here) Oh well, this picture is when we put the queen down on the top of the frames...see how the bees crowded on the box?? Had she been exposed the bees would've killed her. Honeybees don't take kindly to intruder bees. We will keep her in this box in between two frames for the next few days and HOPEFULLY they will except her. They need to get used to her pheromones.

Here she is in between the frames.....but shes upside down! There is two end openings to the queen cage is corked and the other is filled with a soft sugar "candy" that the bees eat through to let her out. The "candy" end needs to be up because there is also "nurse" bees in the cage with her and if they die they'll block the hole and she will also die before she can get out.
This is our first experience with a bought queen, we've been through the queen replacements before (you can see in my previous posts) but they have been "natural" meaning they hatched her on their own. So I'll keep you posted on the progress of this BEE adventure:O)
Until then BEE connected:O)


  1. Very cool! I hope your hive will get stronger now with a new queen. That poor hive has been through some stuff, hasn't it?? They're lucking to have you as their bee mommy!

  2. Thank-you Penny, all of our hives have been through some sort of havoc and I do "feel" like a "mommy" to them most of the time. I just want to protect them from everything@ Weird huh?