Archive | May 2011

Doing Good And Getting Attacked

I opened the bees up on Friday. Yeah, this is super late I know. Anyway. I was extremely happy to find that they had about half a frame of pollen (all of it was white) and approx. two frames of nectar-honey. They have been out all but two days when it was raining a while ago. They’re coming out in weather that was too cold for the old bees.

They’ve got so many eggs and larvae, I don’t know how they’re going to cope. A few of the larvae were capped which is exciting. The sooner they get new bees into the work force, the better. I couldn’t find the queen though. She is much faster than the old one however, and with so many eggs in the hive it really doesn’t matter if I find her or not.

They’ve started making drone cells. All of the comb on the outer edge of the hive that was newly drawn out was drawn out wonky (it didn’t match to the foundation) and was larger than the other cells. I’m just going to leave them. They are important to have in a healthy hive, and it means that my bees won’t be completely removed from the gene pool.

Im excited for them to fill in the first box. It will be so exciting to FINALLY get that second box filled. I just hope there’s enough stuff for them in the neighborhood. I feel like there isn’t that much for them and my yard certainly won’t be enough.

Anyway, they’re doing good, they have food, they have eggs, they’re drawing out wax without any problems.
They’re also attacking my dog and I. My littlest dog, Kira, who is allergic to bees, was running through grass away from the hive and one managed to jump up onto her leg. She got stung and immediately started limping around and coughing and got really hot. Naturally my mom was in a meeting and wouldn’t pick up her phone, and had hidden the bee sting medication (literally, she had put it in the least used of all the kitchen cabinets, behind a jar of junk where no one would ever think to look), so I couldn’t do anything for Kira. Two hours later my mom called and asked if we’d found it. We hadn’t. She told me where it was and, after giving some to Kira, things seemed much better for her.

After I had opened the hive, and after Kira was stung, I had taken off my mask and gloves but not my suit because I was busy talking to my neighbor. A bee flew straight at my face, so I hit it away, which made it mad, so it continued to fly at me. I freaked out and was swatting at it with both hands like a complete spaz. I literally had to run inside to get away. And it flew around outside, waiting for me, looking at my hat and gloves. I waited a bit and finally took a step outside and it immediately flew into my hair. I pretty much went berserk and swatted at my hair like crazy, and once the bee was out I was across the yard and up the hill in less than 2 seconds. After waiting a bit to make sure the bee hadn’t followed I slowly snuck back inside. My sister and neighbors laughed at me the whole time.

Yep. I’m insane. I’m a beekeeper who’s afraid of bees. 😀

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A Vortex In The Sun

I don’t think the bees have not been outside once since I got them. These gals are pretty awesome, I must say. Today had a particularly warm moment which prompted about three times as many bees as there are usually to come swirling out of the hive entrance. They were so loud you could hear them from the house. I love it when they’re that loud. They really did look like a vortex though. If you stand parallel to the hive’s side, the bees come out at an angle and all seem to rotate through their flying spaces.

The sun was hidden behind clouds a few moments later and the result was that over half the bees landed on the front of the hive and crawled back in and the noise was reduced to a barely audible hum.

It needs to hurry up and dump rain over night and get rid of all these annoying clouds. I can’t wait to open them up again on Friday!

Lots Of Egg Laying

It was not so great out when I woke up, but after I was out of the shower the sun came out, so I rushed outside to open the hive. The bees were already up and coming and going, so I wasn’t too worried about the cold, though I did want to hurry. The bees have moved into the old frames wonderfully and already have over two full frames of eggs lain. There’s honey appearing on the edges of the frames too, which is good. I sprayed them with a little bit of sugar water, although my sprayer was malfunctioning slightly.

With the apparent flow of nectar the bees have already drawn out about a centimeter of wax on one of the frames I’d scraped clean. The old bees had started drawing out a few queen cups, which I didn’t really think about when I put the bees in. I smooshed them down today. The bees had continued to draw them out and they were much larger than last time.

There was very little pollen in the hive. I did come across a couple bees with red pollen in their baskets, but other than that there seemed to be almost none. I’ll be planting a Pussy-willow to ensure they have some spring pollen next year.

The queen was much larger than she was when she was still in her cage, which was exciting to see. Her coloration is different than what I thought it was. Her dark is really dark, but her sides are pale had slightly hairy. I didn’t bother asking my mom to take pictures since she was busy and still weary because she was stung last time. She came out when I was almost done, wearing a hat and standing close to the house. She kept talking to me but I could barely hear her over the hum of the bees.
They were surprisingly calm too which was good. If I accidentally dropped a frame into place too hard they’d all buzz for a second and then they’d be done. One did head butt the screen of my hat, which I thought was funny. They were calm enough I almost considered not using my gloves next time. And I’m kind of terrified of being without my gloves.

Anyway, that’s the update on the package. They’re doing fine. I kind of want to try making a split with them soon. After they’ve filled up their two boxes of course. I’m not concerned with getting any honey from them this year. I just want to make sure I won’t be without bees next year.

A Package Of Bees

My aunt took me up to get the bees today. It was a place up past Seattle and I wasn’t comfortable driving through the greater Seattle area, especially not during rush hour. We made it there and were admitted into C’s garage which had dozens of boxes and various other bee keeping equipments lying around. There were about two dozen bees flying around on their own. I have to say, I feel a lot better about bees inside then I do about them outside. They flew lazily around, distracted by the lights, and occasionally came over to inspect us but other than that didn’t bother us.

I got a nice healthy box of a Carniolan type bee. I’m not exactly sure what they are, but I know they have carniolan in them. The queen has a golden brown underbelly, like that of my old queen, but has a blackened top that isn’t as pretty. We drove home with them safely in the back and nothing went amiss!

Here are some pictures.

Here they all are! I feel like they’re smaller than my old bees.

The slightly impossible task of shaking them all out. There were a lot more than I expected, so I pulled out one of the frames and shoved as many as I could down into the bottom of the box to make room. I had to do that two or three times because the mound was definitely too tall for the lid to fit on properly.

Here’s the queen. If my mom knew how to work the camera properly (and had a suit on) you would be able to see her a little better. I uncorked the thing (I’m not good with technical terms) and shoved in some marshmallow to keep her in place. You’re supposed to do this to give the bees time to get used to her scent and also so she isn’t lost or injured in the confusion of things. I put her at the bottom of the box, which is what you’re supposed to do, or so I’ve read.

The almost impossible task of shaking all the bees into the box. I had to take out a middle frame and push the bees down into the bottom of the box to make room for all of them. I didn’t realize three pounds of bees were so big.

I left the package container out so that any straggler bees can crawl into the hive box. Plus there was no way to get them all out of there. It was rediculous.

Before I put them in the hive I sprayed them with about 2:1 sugar:water. I didn’t wait long to put them in though because it was getting cold quickly and I’d rather have gotten most of them in before it got too cold them all of them after it was too cold to be working. After the majority of them were in the hive i sprayed them again to keep them from flying as much. I can’t wait for them to get their bearings. My main concern at the moment is that they eat the queen out successfully. I wasn’t sure how much marshmallow to shove in the hole.

That’s All There Is, And There Isn’t Any More

It was a wonderful day out. Upper 60’s, butterflies fluttering through the yard, a pair of gold finch couples, purple finches flitting about, a clear sky. All of it delightful. I checked the bees yesterday and they had all died. So the relentless hum that should’ve filled the air was missed today. I’ve spent a good chunk of time online in search of someone selling bees. Of course the selling period was last month, so I’ve missed out. I couldn’t find a single place with bees. Everyone was sold out. There are still people selling queens, but you can’t start a colony with just a queen. I emailed B and he said to wait until the end of the month to check back in with him about possibly getting a hive. He’s got to fill the 5 of his 11 hives that failed over the winter. There might be some bees for me, but he’s not sure. This bad weather (not today obviously, but it’s been rather wetter and colder than usual) prevents the queens from mating and the queen won’t start intensively laying eggs without a steady flow of nectar.

My options are to wait until the end of the month for B to make a decision about getting me some bees or not, waiting until the end of the season to possibly get bees from B who will by that time have a good surplus to hand over, or to wait until next year to buy a package online. I emailed a few people online but have only got one response. They told me they were sold out and there were about ten other people who were on a list to get any captured swarms during the swarming season. I asked to be put on the list, but with ten other people in front of me it’s highly unlikely I’ll be getting a captured swarm this year. So I’m stuck playing the waiting game at the moment. It’s a shame it’s one of my least favorite games.

Not So Good

My mom felt that keeping the bees inside would be a bad thing to do because there was so much moister in the container. So, after much discussion, I put the bees (still in the container) into the not drawn out hive box. A few of them were out today but they only really clustered on the front close to the entrance. I checked my email and B said that there was very little hope that they’ll make it. If I had a second hive I could pull a frame of brood out and help rejuvenate things. That’s according to B. I keep telling my mom that but she won’t listen to me, so now that B has said it maybe she’ll believe me and get me a second hive. The bad news is that 4 of B’s 11 hives died over the winter as well, with a 5th in almost as bad a state as mine’s in. He said that he won’t know until the end of the month if he’ll have any extra Nuc’s to spare for me. And if I’m getting a second hive then I’ll want to buy some online anyway I think. We’ll see how things go but it at the moment things are looking pretty bleak.