Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Looking Good

We did a big inspection over Memorial Day weekend: the hives are looking strong so far.  We can see that each has a laying queen and is collecting pollen and nectar.  It will be a little while until the "honey flow" starts - when the bees are rapidly build up honey stores and nectar is highly available.

Quickly, here are some photos from the time, starting with brave Mr. Bee trimming the grass in front of the hives:


The Top Bar hive is looking really good (below) and we added some frames so they have more space to work.



Below, you can see some capped honeycomb as well as some cells full of glistening nectar.


You can also get a look at some larvae, in the stage before the cell is capped to allow for the rest of the growth:

I love this - some comb absolutely packed with pollen!


And here you can see the honeybee's main sources of food - pollen and nectar. The pollen is speckled and has different colors because of the different plants it is coming from.  On the very left, you can even see one of the girls with bright golden pollen nuggets still on her legs.



In the next photo, you'll see what we call capped brood. Each of these cells contains a honeybee in it's stage of growth. The hive will need every single one!

 Another update will be on the way soon!


Sunday, May 3, 2015

The First Couple of Weeks

Hello, again!  We've had a busy first couple of weeks with the new bees.  Our new top bar hive is already looking strong.  You can see the pollen nuggets on the bee returning to the hive in the photo below.  The likely source? Maybe trees, or...


Dandelions. They're suddenly blooming all over.


We were exploring a patch of them and found one of our girls hard at work. This little bee was very busy pollinating - visiting flower after flower, only stopping for a moment at times.


Mr. Bee has already been adding the empty frames to the front of the box, so the queen can continue to lay eggs (her laying pattern is VERY good so far) and the workers can build comb and fill it with pollen and nectar.


Our wintered hive is doing pretty well, too.  We're keeping a eye on everything, and as some other beekeepers decide to do with strong hives, we've decided to "split" the hive.  We purchased a new queen, put her in a new box, added some frames of bees, capped brood, and pollen from the wintered hive, and there we have it - a nuc!  "Nuc" is short for nucleus.  Some beekeepers purchase their bees this way every time.  It consists of a laying queen and working bees, already established on some frames.  It's a strong way to start a hive and a great way to keep a healthy queen going in case we'd need her for one of our other hives this year.

The new hive, which for now I'll call the "Short Stack," has been a little slow to start.  We believe the queen is moving along with her duties now, but we're going to keep an eye on it. Worker bees live only about 6 weeks, so we need the new bees hatching in a few weeks to pick up where they'll leave off.


It's an exciting time of year, and it's always a time of hoping for the best and keeping a diligent eye on things.  We remind ourselves as often as we can, in beekeeping and in life, that it's a blessing to be able to never stop learning.

This was a bee in the first moments of her discovering the new top bar hive.  I wonder, what is she up to now?


The kids have taken a liking to dirt this year, which is funny, sweet, and messy.  I just love seeing their excitement about every ant and every plant and every breeze and every sound.



Little Miss Bee is growing fast, asking a lot of great questions, and telling everyone about the bees. She is aware of them, interested, and unafraid. Little Mr. Bee is perfecting the art of running. He has managed, so far, to stay away from bees when he sees them.  I'm thinking that's due to the caution of his sister, which I appreciate.


We've been seeing many birds! Chickadees, red-winged blackbirds (they sound just like summer to me), pheasant, downy woodpeckers, wild turkeys, mourning doves, blue jays, and robins everywhere. We are growing accustomed to seeing - and always amazed at - bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, sandhill cranes, and the occasional turkey vulture or trumpeter swan. Here are some photos I snapped in the last week:

Black-Capped Chickadee
Red-Winged Blackbird
Ring-Necked Pheasant
Downy Woodpecker
Tree Swallow








"Came the spring with all its splendor.
All its birds and all its blossoms.
All its flowers and leaves and grasses."
-Longfellow