Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Saving The Nurse Bees

This is where we bumped/brushed the nurse bees off yesterday, some of them could fly a little, but not very far.

I glanced out of the window today and saw more flights going on, but I didn't go out to see. I was afraid of what I might see and I didn't want to face it.
The ground was empty of them this afternoon.

Before I go any further, I want to say that I have the sweetest and most kind hearted husband ever! I Love him more than words could ever say! It's awesome being able to share a passion about something with someone you Love!
He came up with the sweetest idea when he saw the bees clinging to life... huddled together in a ball under this old boat trailer.

He came in and talked to me about seeing if we could maybe start them over in a nuc box of their own, putting in a frame of eggs or brood and a queen cell from my queen hive. An amazing idea to me! IF the little worker layer is still in there maybe she will have halted her production and will let one of my new little queens hatch.

We sprayed them with a little sugar water and brushed them in with some soft dog fennel.

You can see them with their little hinnies in the air fanning to let the others know they now have a safe new home.....I reached across the box to brush the rest of them in and I couldn't believe the air that I felt coming from those little wings! It was like there was a tiny fan inside of that box! Bless their little hearts they are so amazing!

All tucked in for the night....I had to agree with my husband...they sounded so happy!

I was thinking a lot about that little layer today....she had leadership qualities. She saw that the hive was in danger and even though she couldn't keep them george, she was going to give it a try! She wanted the hive to think they had a queen so they would keep the colony alive;) She had hope!
I think next time (if we ever have to do this again), we'll just brush them off in a box from the start. But we'll see if this one works out first...and I'm hoping we won't go through this again, but at least we know how to deal with it if we do.

Until next time.....

Worker layer

April 9th 2011, I posted about losing part of one of our hives to a swarm. When we went in- to inspect the hive we found a new little virgin queen. So we left them to grow with her.
Sometimes things happen to the queens. Year before last it seemed we lost a lot of our queens, while last year wasn't so bad. This year it seems we're losing them once again. I've checked for asian wasps and hornets, but can't be sure if they are around as I haven't seen any, but the bees have so many enemies that anything could have happened. Something could have gotten this particular queen during her nuptual flight. At any rate...she's gone.
When a hive is without a queen or eggs and brood the workers or "nurse" bees panic. A nurse/worker assumes the role of "Queen". All workers are females and they can all lay eggs, the only problem is the eggs aren't fertile and can only produce drones (males). Allowing this to continue in the hive will cause the death of them. Certain steps have to be made in order to keep the hive from dying.
one- You have to take all of the frames at least 30-50 feet away from the hive and bump ALL of the bees off.....this part to me is the saddest of all things for a beekeeper to have to do. You see, most of the bees that are on the frames are nurse bees, they either don't know how to fly yet or they haven't ever been out of the hive to know where to go back to, this is including the "worker layer". Unfortunately, they all have to suffer because you can't tell which one she is. IF, you don't do this and you leave her in the hive no matter how many queens or queen cells you put into the hive she will kill them because she is convinced she is the queen and the other bees are too! Even if they want to replace her they can't...they have no eggs! She will lay them some but they are no good! We learned this the hard way when we first started with bees, we ended up losing the hive completely.

You can click on the pics to enlarge.....

In this picture above you can really see where she is laying sometimes close to ten eggs per cell. Some of the eggs have hatched (they look like little c's inside the cell) and she's laying eggs in with them.
She even laid on top of the pollen.

two- You should always have more than one hive...even if it's a small one. When we have lots of extra sealed queen cells I carefully cut them off of the frames....
then I take them to my "Queen" hive and select a frame to put them on.
We have a very special hive I like to get the queens from because they are excellent producers of honey and sweet queens that make very calm bees.
I then scrape a small area of the comb away to very gently place the queen cell into it. No need to press her in there too hard....... and make sure you don't cover the slender tip up with comb. Once she's in there the bees will secure her in. It fascinates me how ingenious these creatures are!

Anyway, as I was saying...once you bump/brush ALL of the bees off and I mean all of them (even if you leave one on, it could be the layer) take them back to the box and put them back together, with your frame of queen cells OR a frame of brood and eggs. If you don't have queen cells they will make their own queen with new eggs from another hive.
Most beekeepers would just buy a queen, but the way I see it, is there is a 100% chance that the hive will except the queen that hatches in their hive (provided the worker layer is gone) verses a bought queen.
Nothing but a little time...and NO money spent, verses time in finding a queen...going to get her or waiting for her to money.....and did I mention waiting for the hive to except her...and if they don't....more time....and money.....

I do hope this post made sense to you. I tend to get ahead of (sometimes behind) myself trying to explain things. ;0)
I welcome questions and/or suggestions.....

Until next time....