Archive | April 2013

Italian Bee Installation

I went bowling with my family today, and while we were there I got a call from the bee place. They said that my package was there and ready to be picked up, which I was completely surprised by. They never responded to that email I sent them, never got a check from me, and they aren’t even open on sunday’s according to their website. Anyway, I went to get pick up the package because I wanted some bees!

I got there and ended up buying a whole new suit (this time with elastic in the sleeves and cuffs of the pants) and got a new kind of veil (like what Emma and Emily have). My aunt has really taken to the idea of beekeeping, and there’s potential that her sons may need to help me at some point or other with whatever. So I now have a spare suit. I like this one much better than my old one though, so the old one may become the spare.

And I also got a fantastic new teapot for my unbirthday! And its great because it matches my mug.

Image

After all the merchandise was paid for (which took a bit of work, since their computer wasn’t being very cooperative), we went to get the bees from outside. Oh, and not only was their computer not being friendly, they didn’t have an invoice for me at all. Which means I ended up buying Italian bees instead of Carniolans like I had ordered. But whatever, it’ll be interesting to see how differently these behave.

A quick car ride home and a couple of dousings of sugar water later, I was able to install the bees! I put them into White Hive, since that’s entirely unoccupied. I moved some frames around between boxes, and scraped off some of the moldier parts, and put the bees into a single deep box. I think I’ll scrape all of the wax off of the frames from the other box. Most of the frames are rather green and there are a fair few dead bees still stuck in the cells. But for now the bees are happily making themselves at home!

I’m not sure what to name the queen. She had a nice golden underbelly, but the top of her was much much darker. It reminded me very much so of a turtle. I’ll look around online and see what names I come across I think.

 

Oh, and before I forget; I looked through the drone brood from the chunk of wax I pulled out of Trunchen Hive. I couldn’t find any varroa mites in any of them at all. So I really think the issue was just that the queen became a drone layer, and not that there was a varroa infestation. There were a few bees (mostly drones) flying from Trunchen Hive, but not many. There was a little activity at the entrance, but the bees all seemed really sluggish, like they were probably too cold. I don’t expect them to last to next week. 

Drone Laying Queen

Today its up in the 70s, and the wind is much calmer than it was yesterday, so I decided to go open Trunchen Hive. There were far too few bees out for a day like today, so I knew something was wrong. I peeled the cloth on the top box back to find it empty, with some small honey stores visible. The middle box had a few more bees in it, but was virtually empty as well. I turned the box on its edge, so I could look at the bottoms of the comb, and found all of the frames had drone cells on them, some of which were still capped or had dead drones poking their heads out.

Getting to the lowest box brought a great deal more activity. 95% of the bees visible were drones, and when I picked this box up off the floor of the hive, dozens of drones were visible. Since there were more bees in this one, I decided to try taking some bars out to have a look at the comb. The three frames I looked at were covered in drones, with a good deal of pollen on them as well. I only found a single egg, which was laid in the middle of the brood nest. Not that it matters. There were as many drones the size of workers as there were workers.

I debated bringing over the top box of White hive, which is still full of honey, and setting the box containing bees on top of it. It would only prolong the inevitable though, and I saw no reason for that.

So! Despite the bees best efforts last year, with four swarms and three hives occupied, I was unable to keep bees through the winter this year. I have placed an order with a local beekeeping store, but i’ve had a bit of trouble getting in touch with them since, so we’ll see if I get to keep bees this year at all. 

A Small Die Off (?)

Trunchen Hive has been doing seemingly fine for weeks now, with ever increasing numbers of bees flying out on nice days. A day or two ago there was a large die off over night though, which rather worried me. There was a decent pile up of bees at the entrance of the hive, which was composed of a combination of workers and drones. Its been sunny out, but not ever warm enough to open the hive. I may open it today, because there isn’t anywhere near the activity there should be on a sunny day like today. Even if it is only 56 out.

I took some pictures several weeks ago of a drone I found. It had some of the worst wings i’ve ever seen, which really makes me wonder if there isn’t a virus or something in the colony.

Image

You can see how his wings kind of bend back forward. They were basically nubs, and looked like burnt plastic. 

Image

Here’s another photo of the same drone. This angle shows the two different sets of wings better I think. The drone had gotten its self a good ways from the hive, but not far enough to make me think the workers had carried him out.

I’m not sure what I can do at this point, since even if I open the hive up I won’t be able to see much of the brood. That’s really the only complaint I have about this hive. Its supposed to be easily remedied, but I don’t posses any of the woodworking materials necessary to do that, haha.