Sweaty Bee Update

Ah, the bees suit which has been such a comforting fortress of solitude has turned on me in 90 degree heat into a sweat factory.

Lorraine and I went out to the beehives today to put up some skunk preventative. Near the area, we found some "leftover turkey". There were several clumps of turkey feathers. Lorraine mentioned they had flushed a turkey near the hives a couple of days ago. My guess is that they won't be flushing it again.

A quick scan of the feathers leaves me with the impression that this bird may have become prey to the coyotes. I've heard them recently, but also looking at the barbs you can see some ripping marks that match up with canine mouth shape. Also, the shafts lack any impression from a bill or talons. The whole body is missing and a turkey is so large, about the only thing large enough to carry it away would be a coyote. Ah well, on to the bees.

The bees were not as defensive as I thought they would be. Lorraine pumped the smoker to keep them calm. When we got to the Kitty Hive, the side was covered with bees getting in and out. It makes sense, they've had a few weeks of brood hatching so of course we should have several more bees. The last few visits, we've been using a frame spacing tool and it is helping cut back on funky comb construction in the Kitty hive. It takes a little extra time to use it--it's not as easy to use as it looks--all the sticky makes the frames stick.

When we last visited, the Kitty Hive was ahead as far as comb production in the second brood box, but this time she seemed to have slowed down. There were for sure more bees in the hive--but just going at a slower pace. Above is a frame with what looks like some bubbled up, capped comb--those are drone cells. Drones are larger and need more space to grow, so the workers make the cells bigger. We found eggs and then closed Kitty up. We'll check on them a bit more next week.

Olga has almost completely fill up the second brood box. I don't want to get anyone's hopes up, but we may get to use a queen excluder next week--whoot. Speaking of the queen, that's Queen Olga above. I was trying to take a photo of her eggs and she walked right into the shot--the really scoots along in the hive.

Here are some cells with her eggs. It's interesting to watch her, she doesn't really do it systematically by laying eggs in each cell, row by row, but she appears to run around all willy nilly, inspecting the cells and then randomly depositing an egg. Here's a video so you can see who quickly she moves about and towards the end of the video you can see her slip her massive abdomen into a cell and deposit an egg.

If you curious, the bird singing in the background is an indigo bunting. I have to admit, with all the sweating going on, it's great to have a life where you can be out working some bees and be serenaded by one of the bluest birds in the country.

We set down some carpet tacking to keep the skunks away. What the skunks are doing is slapping the ground outside the entrance to irritate the guard bees, force them out, grab them, and eat them. For whatever reason, the stings don't seem to bother them. The nail tips on the carpet tacking are supposed to prick the skunk's paws when it walks up to the hive entrance and when it starts slapping the ground. I'm not sure why this will work since stings don't bother the skunks, but many beekeepers have found success with this. If this doesn't work, we'll look into an electric fence.

And really, trapping a skunk is not an option.