"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bee Man to the Rescue!

a marked queen bee

Today my bee mentor came over to help me figure out what was going on with my hives. I inspected them a few days ago and thought that I had lost both queens. I didn't see any eggs in either hive, nor could I find the queen.

Turns out, eggs and queens are just really hard to see. Both of my hives have queens - hive number two is still going strong with the queen I originally purchased, while hive number one has managed to produce a replacement queen who survived her maiden flight and is now producing eggs. That is actually quite a feat considering the weather - today is nice, but for weeks it has been unseasonably cold and wet. Bee Man told me he has lost all the queens he managed to breed this year (he is trying to breed them for sale).

What a relief! I was terribly worried. If I had not had any queens, I would have had difficulty finding new ones. No-one has them for sale locally and those available by mail are not only very expensive but this year have been remarkably unreliable. I might have simply lost my hives and the investment they represent (kind of a lot).

Bee Man caught and marked the new queen for me. That isn't her in the picture - that's a picture off the web. But mine looks just the same, except her spot is green. Hopefully I will be able to find her myself next time. Also next time I will know how to look for eggs - they are very very tiny, much smaller than a grain of rice, and sit on the bottom of the cells. They are completely invisible unless you tilt the frame back and forth until the bright sunlight hits them just right. Then they glow a beautiful pearly white.

The bees have not drawn out a lot of new comb, though, which isn't surprising considering the weather. However, now that the clover and the blackberry blossoms have arrived, they will go into high gear. Bee Man suggests I have second boxes ready within a week or two. Then, in late July after we get back from Mexico, I can add honey supers!!! I may actually harvest a little bit of honey this year!!

Oh I'm so excited. I love bees. I don't even care that I got stung again. It was through my shirt, so I barely felt it.


Dea-chan said...

Yay! I'm glad your bee saga is going much better.

It's always the little stuff that's so hard to figure out on your own. I bet your bee mentor found it in like 20 secs, eh? :-P He shoulda just come over sooner!

Urban Dirt Girl said...

I am glad your queens are ok and the hives are busy and healthy. I can only imagine how much anxiety they cause you! Keep us in the loop on your honey harvest. Its one of those things I will want to do at some point and so I learn alot from folks like you out there doing it. Good luck!

polly's path said...

I am so glad the bee adventures are continuing and the queens are alive and well!

Elizabeth said...

Are you feeding with sugar water? We've been feeding and within a month after hiving our packages, we had to put a second hive body on one hive (mine, ha). My husband's hive got its second hive body last Friday not because they'd drawn out most of the frames but because they were using the top feeder to build honey comb in it. What the local beekeepers have told me is that for a newly hive package, you should feed for as long as there's foundation to be drawn out. We pretty much have planned to feed all this year since they're brand new hives. Next year will be different; we should be able to stop feeding around the beginning of June and start up again in the Fall.