Search This Blog

Thursday, July 22, 2010

West Hive Accepts New Queen

Last night Dawn, Jessica, and I went to the farm to check on the new queen which we placed in the West hive on Tuesday.  Upon openning the West hive we found what we were hoping for: an empty queen cage.  The hive has accepted their new queen and she was busy checking out her new home.

Dawn & I also noticed how much calmer the West hive was today compared to recent visits.  I think the new queen brought everything into a "bee balance" and they were least that's my theory!

We also checked the East hive which is in full honey production.  They have had the honey super on top for just 10 days and they are just starting to cap honey.  I was suprised at the weight of the box when I took it off to check the brood chambers.  Jessica also had her first opportunity to taste honey fresh from the hive!  Below are a few photos from tonight.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Queen Installed

Dawn and I were up at 5am, and of course it was rainy outside!  The weather radar showed a brief clear window over the farm, so we raced up there and was able to install the new queen in the West Hive.  We also looked in the East Hive.  Boy, there is a big difference in the number of bees between the two hives.  I'm hoping there is enough workers that will live long enough for the queen to raise her young!  I will check the hive again in a few days to make sure she got out of her cage.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Drove 212 miles for a Insect

There are some things I hear about people doing that makes me just shake my head.  Well, for your entertainment I am providing one of those opportunities for you.  I just drove 212 miles for an insect.  Actually a queen bee to be exact.  As I wrote about in my last post, my West Hive is queenless, which is a really "bad thing" in beekeeping.  I spoke with Sheri at Long Lane Honey Bee Farm and decided to purchase one of their specially bred Queens to hopefully save my West Hive.  Long Lane is up near Danville, Illinois, and it is a little over 100 miles each way.  When I arrived I found David waiting for me, and he introduced me to my new queen, a Carniolan bee.  I have to admit I was a little sad that it wasn't an Italian (I've grown to really like the color of Italian bees) but from what I read, the Carniolans have a lot of good traits.  I arrived back home at 9pm, so Dawn and I plan to get up early and install the new Queen first thing in the morning.

Italian Bee

Carniolan Bee

Sunday, July 18, 2010

West Hive Crisis!

Late afternoon yesterday I went to the farm to check on the bees.  As I shared with friends on facebook, I wore full body armor and brought lots and lots of smoke....I did not want to get stung again.  In checking on the West hive I noticed very few bees at the entrance as compared to a few weeks ago.  As I looked in the honey super I found that the bees still have not drawn out any honey comb on any of the frames.  I decided to dig into the hive and give it a thorough inspection.  I found lots of nectar and pollen being stored, a few drones, but NO brood.  I checked nearly every frame in both deep supers and no sign of a working queen.  I also noticed what looked like queen cells from a swarm.  I took some photos with my cell phone and sent one to David Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farm who confirmed it was a queen cell and that my hive has swarmed.  Apparently, the hive tried raising about five virgin queens, but something must have gone wrong and there is no queen in the hive.

Frankly, I feel stronger queen is gone with half the hive....there is no brood in the's dying unless I can get a queen in there ASAP.  I am suppose to call David at Long Lane tomorrow morning to see what he can do.  From my best guess, I believe she swarmed about 3 weeks ago.

Now for some good news.  My East hive is going strong with lots of brood in various stages.  I placed the honey super on the hive this past Tuesday when I got stung on the face, and they have honey comb drawn out on every frame and are filling it with honey.  I snuck a pinch of honey off of one of the capped sections from the brood chamber and boy was it good....a sweet reward on a bad day.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bee Sting Update

Well, my face is back to normal....I realize that is too open of a answer for some of you out there!  I returned to work on Friday after two days of sick leave due to my bee stings.  I still had some puffiness in the eye and left side of my face, but for the most part I felt fine.  After I came home from work the family said I looked normal again.  I am chalking it up as an important lesson learned -- Respect your bees and they will respect you!

It is a hot day today with a heat factor of 111 degrees, so I think after it cools down a little bit I will take a drive to the farm and check out the bees....don't worry this time....I'll be taking precautions!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Morning After

Lessons Learned!!!  (1) Wear Protection, (2) Always have plenty of smoke, (3) Make sure you have good weather and most of the bees out of the hive.

This morning my eye was completely swollen shut from my two stings on the face yesterday.  I called in sick today and was at the doctor's office at 8am.  Always looking for an opportunity, my swollen face became quite a fun way of talking about beekeeping with the staff and patients in the waiting room.  The doc gave me a steroid shot, wants me taking benadryl and Xantac several times a day, take two days off work, and use cold compresses on my eye and face.  The funny thing is my doctor is very interested in beekeeping and would like to come see my bees sometime. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Honey Update

Saturday I was up at the farm mowing and gardening and decided to check on the honey super, and guess what?  Nothin'!  No one bit of honey comb has been drawn out.  Enough waiting - it's time to consult the experts.  So, Monday morning I called Long Lane Honey Bee Farm and spoke with Sheri, and she told me that sometimes bees see the queen excluder as a barrier and won't build honey comb behind it.  Apparently, the old-time beekeepers called them "honey excluders" claiming they didn't get as much honey when they used them.  She suggested taking off the excluder and letting them draw out comb, then put the excluder back on and the bees will likely continue working on the frames because they want to finish their work.  Now that makes sense!

So, this morning I woke up early and drove to the farm to remove the excluder and put the honey super on the East hive.  With a sense of desperation to at least taste some honey this year I chose to break several common sense rules of beekeeping.  At beekeeping school they told us work with the hives in the early afternoon on sunny days when most of the bees would be out and about gathering nectar and pollen and not in the hives.  They said whatever you do, don't be messing with the hives on overcast and rainy days. 

So, what do you think the weather was this morning???  Misty and rainy with very overcast skies.  To add to my poor decision making I decided that since this would be a quick in-and-out operation today I wouldn't need to suit up and probably wouldn't need any smoke.  Boy, you would have thought I ate a bowl full of stupid this morning.  Well guess what???  Right away the East hive got very upset with me trying to open the hive and two bees stung me on the face: once on the left cheek and once above the left eye.  I quickly closed the hive up and went back to the farm house, removed the stingers with a credit card, and put some baking soda paste on my face.  Man, do face stings hurt!!!  I've never been stung on the face, and after an hour or so my left eye feels a bit swollen.  After doctoring my face I headed back out to the hives fully armored with lots of smoke, took care of business, and headed back home. 

Since my children were little I have always told them there are three types of people in the world: those who learn from their mistakes, those who don't learn from their mistakes, and the smartest of all are those who learn from other people's mistakes.  My question for myself is since I am obviously not in the last group will I chose to be in the first group and learn from this experience???

An example of the psychotherapy concept of "Experiential Learning"!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bee Update

Well, Aaron & I checked on the bees today after a week's vacation.  On the approach we could see that there was more activity on the East hive over the West hive, which is a difference over the past many weeks.  Also, the number of bees hanging out on the front porch is less than before.  I'm assuming that since the beginning of June when I removed the sugar water feeders two things are probably happening: (1) the bees are having to forage for food around the area so they are out and about more, and (2) since the removal of the sugar water the Queen is perceiving a drop in honey flow and cutting back on laying eggs to a level that better matches what the workers are bringing into the hive.

Also, when checking the honey super on the West hive, there are bees walking all around on it, but they have not drawn out one single bit of wax comb.  I wonder what is up with that???  They have had that super sitting on top the hive for almost a month!