Monday, July 21, 2014

To Beezzzzzzz or not to beezzzzz

 I know that is a corny title, but I tell you, it is hard to come up with a good bee update title that isn't "Bee Update #4" or something equally mundane!

Honey frame- you can see the shiny cells of uncapped honey
So it has been a while since a bee post.  The bees for the most part are humming right along (I can't help myself) and are doing fine.  I need to tell you right off the bat that we discovered about a month ago that one of our hives lost their queen.  As you can imagine, this is not good.  And we do not have really easy access to new queens, plus it looks like the little guys may have made their own queen, maybe, so we are just letting nature proceed.  What this means in the end is that we are going to have a couple brood boxes full of honey that we will be able to take, because there is no way this hive will make it through the winter.  Missing a queen is a problem, because there will not be enough workers to get enough food and no queen = not enough workers.
Separating the frames

This little hangy downy think we "think" is a queen cell.  Yes hangy downy is a real phrase

This is the hive that isn't doing as well.  You can see the larger hive with more boxes behind
So yeah that is a bummer, but we feel ok, because the same thing happened to the Mad-Middle son's hives so we don't consider ourselves failures.  We do assume the other hive WILL indeed make it, as they are thriving.  We have a honey super that is almost full of uncapped honey and we will need to put another box on top.

More burr cells to remove

One of our cats stepped on this frame and broke the bees wax off early this spring.  The bees just merrily fill it in themselves

When we smoke them (use the smoker to calm them and drive them back into the frames), they start eating the extra comb on top- we do (carefully) scrape off the extra

As far as the honey, the bees fill the cells with nectar and then fan it until it is the right low moisture level and then cap it with wax.  If they capped it too early, it would ferment.  Not good for the bees winter dining!  Or ours.

We keep checking the bees for any problems (not sure we would recognize that right away) and keep feeding them sugar water and tidying up their frames.  And people who visit get treated to a little bee tour.  We don't go into the hives too far most of the time, though.  They need to go about their business undisturbed.

My friend Jane came to our house Sunday to check out the bees and get a mini introduction to bee keeping.  I think she had a good time!  She was sent home with some honeycomb with a little young honey in it- it was burr comb that gets removed anyway.  AND I got a nice dozen of farm fresh eggs in the deal!!  We do enjoy showing the bees/supplies/hives.  We inspect them every 2 weeks (usually on Sunday)

Hopefully the bears/skunks/otherpests stay away and we can keep marching along!

THAT will be a joy!

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