Memorial Day Bee Update

The bees are plugging along!

Here's a photo from the back side of one of our frames. You can see some of the pollen stored on the other side. Such beautiful colors.

During our last visit to the hives, we had added another brood box because the bottom brood boxes were about 80 percent full. The Olga hive was a full 80% filled and Kitty was closer to 75% filled but we added another box to her as well. When we checked on Olga, she had barely begun to draw out any comb whatsoever in the new brood box. Kitty who was a little behind Olga and filled up one full frame already and was well on her way to filling the second. I wonder why the shift production?

Both hives were feeling less tolerant of us today. Above is Lorraine scraping off some irregular comb, while Non Birding Bill smokes the bees. (Mr. Neil was not around today, so we made sure to document the adventure). A smoker is one of the most important pieces of beekeeping equipment you'll need. My bee instructors said that they would rather visit a hive without a bee suit than without a smoker.

Here is a video demonstrating "smoking the bees". Watch what happens when NBB puffs some smoke on the workers:

Did you see the workers go down? The smoke makes the bees think that there is a forest fire and instinct tells them to go down and eat honey, don't bother to try and drive out the big thing taking apart your hive. Now is not the time to fool with that.

Above is a photo of the bees eating the honey. If you look closely, you can see their little tongues in the cells lapping it up. This was a part of some burr comb that didn't have any eggs or larvae in it, so we took it out.

What's interesting is that my bee instructors told us that if we got stung, to immediately smoke the area. When a bee stings you, it releases a pheromone to get other bees to come and attack. If you puff smoke on it, the smell of the smoke masks the pheromone. While working with the Olga hive, I saw a bee sting my glove--I didn't feel it, but I saw what happened--as soon as the stinger went in, five bees were on my glove in a split second. I had NBB puff my glove and all but the stinging bee left the glove. The stinging bee did get loose and I didn't see that she left her stinger--I wonder if she survived?

Brood has definitely hatched! We actually found some drones today. In the above photo you can see one of them, he's circled--you'll notice his wide, blunt rear end. Drones are the result of an unfertilized egg laid by the queen. They require larger cells than the female larvae in which to pupate. Drones pretty much eat honey and make flights out of the hive to find other queens to mate with. Once they mate with a queen they die. They don't help build comb or gather pollen or make honey. Some people get rid of drone cells--who needs 'em, but I'm hoping some of our hygenic drone genes make it out to other queens and maybe slow down the verroa mite in the US bee population.

On our last inspection we found Queen Olga but not Queen Kitty. This time we did find Queen Kitty, that's her circled above looking for cells for egg laying. It was so exciting to watch her in the Kitty hive as she was crawling over a clean frame of comb which two weeks ago was chock full of capped brood and now it was empty since our brood had hatched. Whoot!

And like a proud mom, I have a video of both Queen Olga and one of the drones:

The grow up and move so fast!

We still have a little bit of funky frame building, but this time it was very minimal in each hive. We've been using a frame spacing tool and that really does seem to be help the situation. It's not as easy to use as it looks, the propolis keeps things a bit sticky and I feel like I'm really wearing out my welcome with the girls--they start bumping our helmet and that's the final warning before they sting.

After we finished the Kitty Hive, the bees were all over in the air. I thought I would lay on the ground and get a video of the bees flying above us. It's just hypnotic:

Did you happen to notice NBB saying "Are we done yet?" That was a running theme today. The bees were anxious to have us away from the hives and NBB doesn't want to risk any of them getting killed by stinging us to get us to leave--gotta love that guy.

Anyway, I think this is my favorite video, you'll see why at the end of it...

Again, did you hear NBB, "Are you done?" My little broken record! We have one more video, but I'm having trouble getting it to upload properly. Hopefully we can get that up in the next day or so.