So my Georgian girls got to move into their new home this morning!
The frames aren't 100% filled, but they are getting close...and the more bees hatched, the faster the comb building will go. Up at the top, you can see where some of the comb got ripped coming out of the hive. There was honey oozing down the side and the bees went to work on cleaning it up immediately.
And here is pictorial proof of a lesson learned: Always press your frames together. Why? Because if you don't the bees build uneven comb between them. In other words, if the comb is a half inch deep when the frame's top bars are touching and the other ends of the frames are roughly a quarter inch apart--that end is going to have an extra quarter inch of comb built--which makes it crooked, uneven, and it damages the comb more when going through the hives. I had a couple of frames set too far apart and you can see the evidence of it on both sides of the frame to the right. I was lax last time I was in this nuc because we had weather coming in quickly. Next time, I'll take the extra 60 seconds to make sure that the frames are all snugged up against each other.
And there you have it! Both my colonies are now in bigger homes. It's exciting!!
Hive #2 (or the S-bees) moved this morning.Or rather, the colony got moved...
And now we have some nasty weather coming through...got to scram!
P.S. Last week's bee-stings are itching like crazy!!
Last week, I got a phone call from Mr. S. In the course of our bee-related conversation, he mentioned that he had talked to his mentor about my decision to stay foundationless. The nuc he had given me was started entirely on foundation, so he was asking the question of his mentor whether or not the bees would take to foundationless. The answer was iffy--on the negative side. So, I decided that I would just give it a try and if they didn't seem to take to it that I would go ahead and buy some foundation. Therefore, last Tuesday, I inserted an empty frame into the hive.
This is the result, one week later:
I confess that I did not expect THAT much comb in the scope of one week. I felt rather cocky and sure of myself that they would take to it (for whatever reason), but I didn't expect to pull out a frame that was almost entirely filled. It humbles me, actually.
I also got actually stung--twice. I had a "half-sting" about three weeks ago, but these were real, full-blown stings. (I went out without long-sleeves and veil, but fixed that after getting stung.) The one on my left arm quit hurting after not very long, but the one on the back of my right hand is still bothering me.
My Georgians were a little more buzzy than usual. I suspect it was because they could sense the storm that was coming in. Anyway, I have five frames of brood in that nuc. I need to get them out soon--I will plan on that for my next hive check--moving them into the full-sized hive body. Same, I think with the S-bees.
Speaking of hive bodies and such, I got my new supplies yesterday. I got four or six more medium supers (I forget exactly), another hive body--along with the hive stand, bottom board, inner cover and outer cover, and of course, the necessary frames. I have quite a bit of assembly work to do; I intend on starting on that shortly after lunch. I'm already fairly well set up in the garage to do so, I just have to get started.
I think I may need to supplement a little with some honey/sugar water since it's been so rainy and nothing much is in bloom...
I was surprised this morning to see Mr. S (see my last post) pull into the driveway. I was occupied at that point in time in seriously setting up for my Director's Interview (which I did manage to squeeze in this morning), but I trotted out to greet him and was invited to go along as Mr. and Mrs. S went through their hives this afternoon! The long and the short of that was an enthusiastic yes! Even if perhaps I didn't seem all that excited...I really was.
After scarfing down a delicious lunch that Katherine threw together (I really could have been more helpful, I suppose), I headed off the few miles to their house. I arrived, got introduced to the Mrs...who pleasantly surprised me by doing something rather more characteristically Southern--she gave me a hug! As the afternoon wore on, I discovered that she is a rather enthusiastic soul who really enjoys raising bees and sharing what she knows about them.
I rode along with them in the back seat of their pick-up; veiling up at each stop since I didn't want to seem too much of the dare-devil by going veil-less, even though I really was having trouble observing as closely as I would have liked.
We stopped at five different locations. The first hive I mainly just stood back and peered over Mr. S's arm when he was showing me the brood comb--larva and eggs! Now I know what the eggs look like--only I wonder if I will be capable of seeing them in my cells as they do not have that black plastic backing (I forget the exact name for it). They told me that that hive had essentially gone gang-busters last year and the opted against splitting it--and the colony basically died out over the winter; so that hive was, in a way, just getting back on it's feet. Maybe that was the hive that they had put a package of Florida bees in...I think it was.
The second location, the homeowner (the local middle school principal!) suited up and peered over Mr. S's arm as I actually touched this hive. It had swarmed a couple weeks ago and they were primarily looking to see if one of the new queens raised up by the bees had started laying. For all we could see, not yet.
The third location had three hives total--one of which was located deeper on the property than the first two. I helped Mrs. S in the first two hives while Mr. S drilled round 1"-2" holes in the top of the inner covers (I'll come back to that in a bit). Propolis is really very sticky (bee glue, anyone?)... Anyway, I got to use my hive tool (I brought my own along, which they approved of) and pull a few frames. Both those hives were doing nicely. The second of the first two held bees from Georgia (like mine!) and were probably the most gentle of all the hives we got into. [None of us got stung and apparently even the more ornery ones behaved nicely today.]
The third hive at that location, set more in the shade, holds what are, they told me, their most vicious bees. I am grateful that they behaved themselves, but I did stand ready, if necessary (whether or not it looked like it as I was attempting to peer into the hive) to start my quick trek to the truck!
The fourth location was right there on Jo's property (Jo is a lady I know from the Farmer's Market)--I didn't know that at first, but I figured it out and asked by the time we were done there. Once again, I got to help a little and those bees, also more normally irritable, were gentle. I think they had requeened that one...or the bees had requeened themselves. Other than that it was the third hive at the previous location. I forget.
The fifth location (after a brief bathroom stop at their house and a new battery for Mr. S's drill), had two hives on it. The first of those was rather weak and they decided to put a feeder on it.
The second one--oh...my...goodness. BEES. This one was exploding. I was told that they have already split this hive once this year and have already taken one or two honey supers off it--and there are two more ready to come off.
Anyway, as we are poking through the hive, looking at the brood...brood...brood...Mr. S asks me if I think I could a afford a second queen. Well...because if so...he wanted to give me a couple frames of brood!!
I hemmed a little, I guess partly because I didn't want to seem greedy--but FREE BEES!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!! ("Sounds like an agreeable proposition...")
Obviously not, because I now have another nuc sitting in the side yard with two frames of capped brood and a frame of capped honey in it. The nuc hive box I will return when I move them out, but until then, it's on loan. (I need to do some shopping around and find the best pricing on more hive bodies, supers, frame, etc.)
Gee...I tell you what, I want to be those kind of people. So gracious and giving. "Here kid, have some more bees. We want to support you in your enthusiasm and desire to beekeep." Wow.
Anyway, things I learned today:
I had a grand ol' time all in all this afternoon. I thoroughly appreciate their willingness to help me out, to show me what they know, to let me get a little hands on experience...and the little compliment that I heard drop when Mrs. S was talking to Mama when we brought the new nuc over. I guess I was a little calmer around the bees than perhaps she was expecting. :)
I only had any worry of being stung once--and that was at that last, exploding, hive. I got a bee in my glove. But she soon trotted out back into the sunshine. I do not imagine the inside of my glove would be a place a nectar eating insect would like to stay very long in. There were a few jokes about not letting the bees up one's pant legs...I get the impression it happened last time they went through hives...it sounds like the ol' fire-ant reaction.
I had a really good time and I really, really, really appreciate my new bees!!
I had barely gotten started in my race to get a little mowing in before the weather hit, when I glanced over my shoulder to see a Ford pick-up slowing down with it's blinker on as it neared our driveway. Curious as to whom this strange vehicle belonged, I crawled off the mower and went to meet the overalled gent who exited said truck.
Mr. S introduced himself, and because I was slightly startled by an unexpected visitor, I forget his first name. Anyway, in the course of conversation, I discovered that he is our tenant's right-hand man's father! Anyway, the first thing that he said upon stepping out of the truck was, "You must be the bee-keeper extraordinaire."
Um...not really...but before he told me, I had put two and two together and figured that our most wonderful mail lady had told him about me, just as she had told Mama about the several other local folks with bees.
Anyway, I showed him my hive and I won't do more than mention the fact that a hunk of comb heavy with honey fell off while he was inspecting a frame...so I'm now draining out some really nicely flavored "golden honey". (I wasn't really upset, after all, I've done it myself already!) My attempt at tying it back onto the frame was rather futile and only resulted in me getting my first sting. (Or half a sting. I barely felt it. Apparently I am not allergic to bee-stings either. I can assure Grandpa of that now.) Mr. S managed to get stung twice, poor man, but I think he'll survive. :) After all, he's been bee-keeping for several years and has over a dozen hives.
BUT...to my great joy, he was able to assure me that I do have brood--and I could see the larvae in the cells!!! I'm not quite sure I could tell the eggs. That was the frame the queen tumbled off of on Tuesday. I'm so excited!! (I must sound like a nut...)
So...there's my update. Since I have been in them twice now this week, maybe I'll skip next week's check up and let them alone for a bit before looking in on them again.
Mr. S also invited me to go along to the next Bee Club meeting that he's a member of...and if I'm interested in "going through some hives" to drop in. I know where he lives now...so perhaps...
I still cannot determine whether or not I have brood. I did however spot the queen today!
More than that, she took a tumble off the frame I was observing to land at my feet! I sure am glad I double checked that particular insect. I scooped her up on my hive tool and put her back on the frame. Immediately she was surrounded and went about taking the 'homage' of the workers. I was hoping that I might see her lay an egg, but she seemed more pre-occupied with something else at the moment.
The amount of comb still grows in the hive and several of the frames are getting rather heavy with honey, even though they are not quite half filled in with comb. The last couple of times I have gotten into the hive, I have had to damage a little of the comb in order to lift out the frames, leaving honey dripping down it. The bees gather round and get to work on it even while I'm still holding the frame. It's really kind of neat.
Today I went into the hive with only gloves on for extra protection; my shirt was sleeveless--and I might have had a bee walking up the back of my arm, but I couldn't really tell; it might have just been one of those little gnats that get on sweaty people. Either way, I just held still and pretended like it didn't tickle. I'm thankful that, so far, the bees seem to be really docile and know that I don't intend on hurting them.
Hopefully I can say for sure soon whether or not I have any brood...
I cannot make up my mind if I have brood or if I do not have brood. I am yet so inexperienced that I cannot say. I did not spot the queen (as far as I am aware), but I am going to assume that she was there.
The bees seem to be happy enough, busily building comb and flying in and out. I haven't gotten stung yet... :)
Katherine came out yesterday and took pictures...so take a peek. :)
In other words, I hope to put up part two tomorrow when I check...but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Last Wednesday, after checking two or three different bee suppliers, I decided that to be completely sure of myself that I had better double check that my queen was gone. (*cue Granddaddy singing "Gone, Gone, Gone"...oh, sorry...some of you don't have the slightest clue to how funny he made that song sound. :])
Anyway, in a gale of wind (boy did it blow for most of last week!), I suited up and went to work carefully lifting first one frame out and then the replacing it, etc. About the second one, my veil came off since I simply could not see as well as I needed to. No stings...not even any real upset. For my weekly check-ups, I think I'll just leave the thing off from now on (unless they start getting scrouchy on me).
I did not see the queen here, there, or yonder, though I kept an eye peeled. I admit that I didn't really expect to find her there, but I was looking at the frames with just as much intensity as if I did.
Friday morning, I ordered a queen from a place roughly an hour north of us--with a pick-up option. So...Saturday morning, after two wet hours at the Farmer's Market, we packed up for the rest of the day and Savannah and I hit the road:
We got into rain after those sunny-looking pictures were taken....but anyway, we made the trip up with no problems and picked up my new queen.
When we got home, I had a little chit-chat with Grandpa, during which I took a brief run out of doors to go ahead and stick the queen cage into the bottom of the hive--with absolutely no protective gear on. Safe.
See, he recommended that I go ahead and put the cage in without uncorking either end (one end has candy in it that the bees will eat through, the other end simply has a cork) to see if the bees were going to take to her. Well, after I got done talking with him, I decided that since it was Saturday and I really didn't want to get into my hive two days in a row...particularly the second day being Sunday (I'm a semi-strict sabbatarian)...that I was going to go ahead and uncork the candy end--since the bees kind of "have" to take her anyway. So...I put on an overshirt (so my corduroy wasn't the wisest choice) and my gloves and took that frame out again.
By the way, I've decided that I am going to call all my queen's Deborah (since the name means "Queen bee")...so the current one is Deborah II or, D-2 for short.
I think I have lost my queen. I also think I have no brood in the comb. That is a double "oh no".
The Queen: Her royal highness had clipped wings. I know because I saw her last evening outside of the hive. (In fact, she sort of popped out of the bottom entrance as I was musing over the wiggling of a worker.) She tried to fly and only got as far as she did because the wind was blowing strongly. I picked her up with a stick and a tiny burdock leaf and put her back on the landing board. She tried to fly again.
This happened multiple times during which I crowded another bee next to her and observed her more closely than I had had a chance to when installing the package. The other bees really seemed not to be interested in her--NOT a good sign. She also seemed a little clumsy and aimless (I read later than queens are graceful--this gal was not), which if you have ever spent time observing insects, is how they behave if they are sick or dying.
After she plopped again into the grass (for the last time according to my observations), I took my Lymie, incoherent self into the apartment to ask my groggy Grandpa if queen bees wings were supposed to be that short. After a somewhat round about and round about we go sort of conversation, during which I was having difficulty getting enough "oomph" out of my lungs for him to hear me, I went back out and could not locate the queen again. (By the way, the answer was what I expected...no. Some beekeepers clip their queen's wings to keep them from flying [which I guess would help with spring swarming issues], but naturally they are supposed to reach about twice the length this bees were.)
So, I am going to assume I have no queen for two reasons: 1) with those wings, she could not fly and therefore she could not get back into the hive...unless she crawled the entire way--which is possible. 2) She was acting rather ill and the workers really weren't paying her any mind. As Mr. Bush says, "Don't assume that you know more than the bees..."
I know, that if there is brood in the hive, that the bees will raise themselves a new queen if the old one dies, is killed, or absconds for whatever reason. So I determined that if I did naught else today, I was going to check my hives.
Which I did...before breakfast--but that is rather another story.
No brood: At least, as far as I could tell, I have no brood in the comb. I do have some capped honey (yes!), but no brood. This tells me that the queen had not started laying; either that or she hadn't been bred yet. The frames are not full of comb (more than last week though!) With the absence of a queen a worker bee will take on that role, but the eggs she lays will all be drones (I think--I might want to double check that).
There might be a supercedure cell being constructed (where they will raise a new queen--providing there is brood), but I do not know for certain; I am not quite sure how to tell.
All in all, it looks as if I need a new queen...and that I shouldn't fritter about for two weeks before I get one either.
Well, I peered into my hive for the first time today since installation.
I noticed sometime around Saturday that the bees were not mobbing the feeder as they had been previously. My external inspections showed bees going in and out of the hive and always some buzzing about. In fact, yesterday when I was out there, (no protective gear on my daily jaunts to go stare at bees, of course...it's not necessary when I'm just looking :D), one of the bees, attracted by the sun flashing off my wrist watch, flew up and landed on me. I also had on a bright red shirt so they came buzzing over to inspect me. It's kind of cool to have these bugs flying about and know that they are "yours"--as much as an insect can be! Having lived across the road from bee hives in the past, I knew that bees are attracted to bright colors and it's best to just stand still or slowly move away from them--they'll get bored if you don't smell sweet. ;)
Anyway...I zippered up and slipped my net over my hat and pulled my gloves on. Gathering up my hive tool, bee brush, and frame grip (great tool!), I headed out. I decided not to bother firing up the smoker, but to just work around the bees.
I didn't do much other than take the top off and pull each frame at least part way out and looked at the growing expanse of wax. I was fighting "newness" and so forgot to look for the queen. A chunk broke off and I forgot until after I had brought it in (and managed to break it more) that according to Mr. Bush, I could have tied it back onto the frame.
That is a regular sized soup plate. Most of the frames (five) had that much comb or or more on them. I don't know how much honey they all have in them since I didn't brush the bees off any of the rest of it. It seems to be slightly precarious at this point...
In case you are wondering, those dark spots are mold (I am assuming without tasting it!) Before I freaked out about it, I went and looked up mold in honey comb. Turns out, it isn't really much of a problem since the bees will eventually get it cleaned up--once the number of bees reaches a point where they can keep up with everything. Fascinating stuff...
Oh, and that honey? It tastes good!! It's real light flavored... (It tastes different from the stuff I've been feeding them.)
And one other note...the clover will be blooming all over the place soon! YIPPEE!!