Friday, December 17, 2010

There's Really Nothing To Fear!

This is my sweet neighbor, during the summer she came over and we went into a couple of hives. She's a natural! I think the only thing that bothered her was the biting knats!

This was a small hive we went into that I had split a couple of days earlier and bad weather set in, during that time robbing happened. The hive was destroyed :(
Once a hive is destroyed or weakened it becomes open for attack on so many levels. Here wax moths moved in and within a day they can consume and destroy!
Here you can see the trails from the moth larvae tunneling through the cells eating the bee larva.

Pretty pose ;)
My poor girls :( I wanted to cry!
This is one of our Nucs that has grown really well!My sister wanted to go into the hives so we did. I love showing how the bees are to anyone interested! Everyone I talk to is intrigued by them, wanting deep down to see what they're all about but they are still a bit afraid. Really there is no reason to be afraid! They are sweet creatures and give so much to us. The main thing to always remember if you ever come to our apiary.......don't wear cologne or perfume......and if you happen to be visited by a girl or two, just feel privileged ;) They like to see who has come for a visit....just don't swat or wave them away;)
Me and my sister
Her first time holding a frame of bees ;)

Two more sweet people interested in bees! They'll make fine beekeepers! And parents ;)

They both were naturals at looking for eggs and the queen!

I love letting people know how sweet beekeeping really is. I do hope if you are the slightest bit interested in honeybees that you will look up a local bee keeper and ask to visit their apiary and maybe get into a hive or'll bee glad you did.

Until next time.......
Bee curious!

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Sadness As A Beekeeper/Drone Laying Queens

I noticed something wasn't quite right with my two Nucleus (Nuc) hives that I had started a while back, so I went in for a check. At first glance I could see that there was WAY too many drones. I found the queen in each hive and she looked fine and I saw eggs, but what I found next was very disturbing. All of the brood was drone brood. Male honeybees.......this is NOT good in a hive. I had queens that had not been mated. Their eggs were not fertile and they could only produce male offspring. I had to make a very difficult decision. The queen had to be replaced :( I love my queens and I love seeing the new little hatchlings scurrying around on the comb looking in the cells to lay eggs. They are so sweet.Can you see that there are more drones than workers? The drones(males) are much larger and have bigger eyes than the workers (females)
In this picture below you can see the drone cells, there isn't any worker cells at all. Drone cells are bullet shaped and protrude up higher from the comb. Worker cells are even with the comb. If not caught the hive will perish, the males will eat them out of house and home, so to speak. Drones do not forage and they bring nothing to the hive to eat. They are just there to mate with queen bees. This was my dilemma, I had thought that if the hive had drones that a queen would mate. Please don't make that thoughtful mistake, a queen has to be in flight in order to mate.
This brings me to the reason "why" I had two drone laying queens. Those that follow this blog, will remember that I had a queen that had her right wings chewed from her sister that hatched before her. I called her my "Wingless" Queen, I thought I would be able to keep her and she would have her very own hive, that was not a good thing. Her fate had been sealed when she lost her wings before hatching.
The only reason I can think of that the second hive had a drone queen was because during her hatch we had some bad weather at that time, a lot of wind and rain and she wasn't able to fly during the night to mate. Or, if she did mate there wasn't enough drones in the mix. A queen needs to mate with at least 20 drones in order to have enough sperm to be fertile. This, I have read, is enough to last, she won't mate again.

I had to remove the queens, I pulled frames of fresh eggs from one of my favorite hives and placed them in each Nuc. They pulled out queen cells and now have new baby queens.....I do hope they mated. I'm thankful that the warmth has stayed here on us, even though the nights are cooling off, hopefully the queens have made their nuptial flight and will be able to produce big strong hives this coming spring.......only time will tell.

Until next time.......

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Sweet Excuse!

I have a sweet excuse not to cut grass today....well, even this week ;)
It's funny how before we got bees to live in our yard, I never noticed the many things that bloom. Would this mean that I took things for granted? I have always loved the outdoors and nature and thought I had always noticed it before, but it's all different now. It's not just with me but my husband notices things too, and he has never been a "nut for nature" like me. I've noticed him when we're out riding or walking now, how he points out things that are blooming, I love it ;)

You can click on the pictures to enlarge.

I've heard of phrases like "One man's trash is another man's treasure" but one of my favorites is "One man's weed becomes another man's flower" and in this case, One man's weed becomes a pollinators' food.
I knew that grass goes to seed but I didn't think that in order for it to seed it has to has to bloom. (Duh);) That is until I found our bees on it. I noticed this last fall, but as far as I remember I didn't post on it ;)
You can see that not only the honeybees are enjoying the grass nectar and pollen but so are the bumble bees.
The flowers are so minuscule you wouldn't think they harvest much but their little pollen baskets were getting full.
When you're out and about, take time to notice the "little things" around you.....GOD has put so much joy around us, it's up to us took stop and take a peek at "Nature".
It's up to us to teach our children, we have so much confusion and sadness in our lives daily, take time out....MAKE time to sit and watch the wonders that are all around'll bee glad you did;)

Until next time.....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Queen Successes and Accomplished Goals!

Back in April of this year one of our large hives decided to swarm days before they were "technically" supposed to. If I've learned but one thing being a beekeeper, it would have to be, never, ever assume anything, especially about honeybees! They are on their schedule not ours and I don't care what the books say....our girls have NOT read any of them!LOL I have seen them pull and cap a queen cell within three days! I have pictures of one below. No....I did not over look it, they needed a queen and they were going to have a queen! Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.
This first picture is the swarm hive we caught back in April. It is ready to split, these girls are remarkable! Even with them splitting themselves in April, we have harvested honey from them!
Unfortunately this little hive below, which was the remains of the swarm, struggled. They tried to raise their own queens but kept losing them. They were robbed several times, so I moved them into a nuc box and my husband helped me relocate them. So far they have done very well.
In my post "Expectations and Surprises" (July 21,2010) I talked about a different hive that has three queens. Well, I was excited to know that I had "stand by" queens. I went into the hive and not really wanting to "choose" which queen of the two daughters I wanted to place in the small, queenless hive we just moved.....I decided that, other than the Queen Mother, the first Queen Daughter, that I came to first, would be the queen of the nuc hive. (I hope that made sense to you).....I found the Mother Queen first, but I didn't want to take her from the hive. Even though I love all of our Queen Bees...I have to say I was a little delighted that this one was was the first one I found.....the "Wingless" Queen!! Well, actually she has one side of her wings, she's a lefty, her right side was chewed off before she hatched, but she made it! And I've been rooting for her ever since! She's a strong queen, she's already proven that by beating the odds of survival.
Here she is....this is what she was doing when I found her...she was on the frame next to the Mother Queen....the next two pictures below you can see her with her abdomen down inside a cell, she was busy laying eggs. Can you pick her out?....She's the one towards the right side of the picture with "Nurse bees" all around her.

I have never caught a queen to put into a different hive before......we've just always let them raise their own queen, but hey! WE have a hive with three and the "Little hive" needed a queen fast.
We had an old queen box, that we got a couple of years ago when (the first and last time) we bought a queen. My husband came up with the bright idea of using a funnel of some sort to get the queen and a few nurse bees into the tiny hole in the candy queen box. It worked really good! I was also thankful that it was the "wingless" queen I was working with, because she would have flown away during this was NOT as easy as it seemed!

She's in!

The anticipation was driving me crazy! I did wait for two days then I just had to see if they accepted her.......they did!!!! Can you see her? Her abdomen is larger and she's up at the top
Here she is again, you can see her left wing.......I'm so happy she's doing so well...even our Griff is happy!!
Now..see this picture below?? See that lump??? It's a queen cell, now when we moved the little nuc to their new location, I took two frames of eggs and c-cells from the hive I got the queen from.....I brushed all of the bees off and there was NO queen cell anywhere on those frames! This is three days later when I checked on the "wingless" queen. Three days! The books say 14-16 days! This just goes to show you determination.....So, that's okay, we have two hives that need to be split and we can use this queen to put in one of them! I love how this works ;)

Waiting on a meal......(thank you Ms. Nature Nut!)
On guard!
This is a very small split that I started for a friend. He makes us boxes and such and we trade him bees.....I placed a few frames of eggs, queen cells and nurse bees in a nuc, I made a "spacer" to block off the rest of the box so they wouldn't have to much to defend.....I new their queen had hatched and wanted to check them out. I also wanted to check my courage out....a goal I've been wanting to make for myself...going into the bees without any "protection". No veil, no gloves, no bee suit.....I did it!!!!!

I did it!! I was nervous, and I'm not sure I could have done it, if it hadn't have been a small hive, but I accomplished a goal that I wasn't so sure I would ever do! I now have a little more confidence to do it again, BUT I do know I would NOT ever go into our large hives with this confidence and without protection! LOL....Well.........;)
Until next time....