Well, I don't know if you anyone noticed in my Twitter Status Updates or over at Lorraine's blog, but our queen for dividing the Olga hive (who arrived a week earlier than expected) died suddenly on Monday. Arrrgh! I had a back up ordered, but wasn't sure with my travel schedule and plan to divide on Wednesday would be able to fly. I'm not sure I can take the stress of timing spring beehive divides and warbler migration. I think it's going to make my tiny little brain explode!
Fortunately, Jim from Nature's Nectar was at the MN Hobby Beekeeper's Association meeting on Tuesday night and sold me a queen he just happened to have in his vehicle for desperate beekeepers like myself--totally saving my butt. He comes highly recommended from Minnesota beekeepers, I have a feeling he will be getting more bee business from us in the future. For those interested, Jim also has a beekeeping blog, you should check it out and see his grand scale operation.
So, thanks to all the prep work done by my Personal Beekeeping Assistant (Lorraine) and Junior Beekeepers (Non Birding Bill & Mr. Neil), we went out to Olga to look for fresh eggs (that would be the box that had the queen and would stay). The other box with no fresh bee eggs would be used to restart the Kitty Hive. And wouldn't you know it, the queen and eggs ended up being on the bottom box, so that one stayed and we removed the top box with just sealed brood to start Kitty.
We took the new box off and let it sit queenless for a few hours and then took the queen cage and wedged it into one of the frames. Hopefully, if all goes well, her pheromones will permeate the hive and those bees will accept her. She has a piece of sugar candy blocking the entrance to her cage. The first day, all the workers will want to kill her (hey, that's not our queen) and eat at the candy to get at her. However, all the while they chew at the candy and absorb the pheromone and suddenly, she seems like the best queen ever. This will now be the fourth queen for the Kitty hive. Let's hope this one takes.
We had to make the decision when we did the divide to either immediately start exploiting the Olga hive for honey or let her grow into a third brood box and overwinter her again. She's been such a great hive and one our first, we've decided to try and winter her again. Ah, Olga. She's grown up now. As of the divide, she is now considered a "parent colony". Our little girl has matured. I am so proud.
We also did a check of our two new hives. The one on the left was origionally called Kelli hive, but I'm getting Kelli and Kitty confused, so she is now Queen Bickman (which is just fun to say, in my book). Either way, she's named after her artist Kelli Bickman.
Someone emailed and mentioned that I never blogged about the art on the Mimi Hive, I just have an overload of subjects sometimes. But this hive was painted by photographer MimiKo...which I may just end up calling Queen MimiKo because I love to say MimiKo. It has this kind of cool bubble/planetary thing going on.
We went to check on the strange cells that Non Birding Bill found last weekend. He thought it was unregulated honeybee comb construction, but Mr. Neil and I both felt that this was the naughty work for mud wasps and quickly dispatched the freeloaders from the Bickman Hive.
We're using some different comb foundation in these hives this year. Last year it was white, this year, it's black, which makes the freshly constructed honey comb really pop with color on the frame. But that's not even the best part:
The eggs and larvae are ten times easier to see up against the black as opposed to the white! The Bickman hive seems to be a few days ahead of the MimiKo hive--Bickman has sealed brood, MimiKo does not, but both are full of industrious workers constructing new comb and lots of eggs.
All the bulbs that I planed around the woods for our girls were just bursting out all over and it was fun to see bees here and there. As we were finishing up and climbing the hill back into the yard, my nose was suddenly hit with a wall of plum blossom aroma--it was intense. If you looked at the top of the tree, you could see a steady line of honey bees (and a few other insects and butterflies) furiously tackling and pollinating the blossoms. I tried to get a video of it, but I'm not sure how well bees translate onto YouTube: