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....

The Sweet Taste of Honeybees

This hive is the remnants of a swarm. The old queen left with the majority of the workers this spring and it's been struggling ever since.
When a hive swarms they take most of the honey stores with them. They gorge themselves to the point that their stomachs are so full it's almost impossible for them to sting. That's why it's so easy to catch a swarm, that's why and when they are at their calmest.......well, unless you have girls like ours ;) NOT saying they don't get testy but they are pretty sweet girls.....
I know that I've mentioned this before but I want to say it again. Becoming a beekeeper was not my husband had been wanting to have bees for quite sometime, when out of the blue a swarm appeared in my mothers grape arbor. Now, how strange is that? We caught them but had NO clue what so ever about honeybees! There wasn't information even on the web as far as we could find. I do have a cousin however, that had had bees so I called her......she was a wonderful help but when you live so far from each other things get distorted over the phone...especially with an imagination like mine! LOL I mean a bee box was like a huge chicken coop to me! LOL I had never seen a bee hive or box!When you don't "know" something and you're's best to study up on the subject before diving in ;) But to our defense we didn't have time....we had a swarm....ready for capture! That day was such a hoot! Another story for another time ;) Not only that sighting but I was at work and someone said there was bees hanging from a new building down the road and no one could find a beekeeper to get them. That started me on an investigation....I needed to find a beekeeper. This was about four years ago. We found a beekeeper and after some time passed and getting things ready, studying up on them,buying suits and equipment, etc., we decided to buy a hive of bees from him. We were hooked! I remember the first time I went into the hive with my husband......I was totally mesmerized! The awesomeness of how calm they were......they carried on with their business like we weren't even there! My husband has gotten used to me being slow and looking over every detail when I go into them and I have gotten quicker but still I work slow. Well, getting back to the story......
Ever since these girls split they have been getting robbed of their honey and they keep losing their queen. Just last week they had a new queen, but something didn't seem right with them over the last couple of days so I went into them yesterday and the new queen was gone....all of their honey was gone, they did have pollen but I could see where they had been robbed again. So I took them apart and put them into a nuc and me and my husband moved them (hopefully) to a more secure spot last night when it got dark.
Once I placed them in the nuc box, I kept going back out there to check on them to see if they were going to except the smaller home...they were but some were still hanging out on the old home box ;) something I had been suspecting around here but hadn't actually caught gulping the evidence......that is until now! Caught on camera! Look closely at the pictures below....
Do you see what I see??
Yep, a toad frog! Can you believe it??? And to think that "Ms. Nature Nut" herself rescued those amphibians from a drying ditch!

It just goes to show you....someone...or always out to get matter how sweet you are!!!!

Until next time...