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Working Girls

Things have been fairly quiet for the last couple of weeks, other than an occasional check into the hives and refilling their feeders with sugar water at least every other day, if not daily.  All of them seem to be doing well.  We’re 4+ weeks and probably hatching  more than a 1000 workers a day, so the hives are building nicely.

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I walked out to get the paper around 7:30 this morning, and other than the birds and our neighbor’s peacocks, it was fairly quiet.  But I heard a buzzing, much like the sound of a swarm.  I finally found it was coming from a large bush (20’ tall’) that we have near the driveway.  Don’t know what kind it is but it’s in full bloom and a BUNCH of bees were feeding heavily on it.  It’s a difficult camera shot from the ground but if you look carefully, you can see a few flying in the upper left.

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And here’s a close-up (telephoto) of one gathering nectar and pollen.  There were literally hundreds if not a few thousand working this bush.

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And around noon, I walked down to change the jar of sugar water and stopped at the garden.  I saw this girl working the sunflower, went down to change the jar, back into the house to get the camera and change the lens and back out.  She was still working the bottom half of the flower!

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I can already tell the bees are very beneficial to the garden.  Lots more veggies than normal this year.  Lots of nicely developed cucumbers already on the vines.

Larvae and Happy Bees!

Just checked today and we have a nicely capped group of frames with some larvae, pollen and egg cells.  Our population will be increasing significantly in the next two weeks!  In the lower left and top center you can see larvae growing in the cells.

I took this one holding the frame and the camera at the same time.  It actually worked!

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Again, just a few puffs of smoke and they really didn’t care that I was intruding on their space.  No veil, no gloves. . .

And I saw the first honeybee in the yard / garden yesterday.  They’ve been flying off somewhere else but I’m sure this is one of ours.  These are some onion blooms in the garden boxes.  There’s been honeysuckle 10 feet away from the hive but I haven’t seen any activity there.  Something else is better!

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More to come.

Day 5 – Inspecting the Queen Cage

82 Degrees and partly sunny.  The girls were flying well so I decided to check for the Queen’s release.

I put on my veil and gloves just to be safe, but quickly shed them in the heat.  A few puffs of smoke at the entrance and a couple of puffs under the cover also kept the hive busy.  Again, they were very docile.

Pulling the cover showed them working nicely on 4 or 5 of the frames and there was a big section of extra comb in the gap that I poorly left with the frames supporting the queen cage.

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Pulling the queen cage – Success, it’s empty and clean as a whistle!  I pulled a couple of frames for the camera and the extra comb fell off in the process.  I inspected it for the queen and put it on the front porch.  They’ll take that honey and move it back to the hive.  It’ll be interesting if they take the beeswax . . if not, we’ll use it!

I didn’t find her but saw cells with honey, pollen and eggs so I knew she was busy laying eggs – her only task!

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But as we uploaded the pictures, there she is!  Top dead center with the white dot and long black body.  Enlarging the photo, you can see cells with eggs, pollen and honey.  So in 21 days or less we’ll have new workers! (not sure when the queen started laying but it takes 21 days for workers to hatch)

I put the 10th frame back in and  quickly closed up the hive and left them to their work.  Good job, girls!

Status Update

After a couple of cool / overcast / rainy – light showers, it’s brightly sunny and already 79 degrees, headed for 89!

The bees are flying strongly.  I refilled the feeder late yesterday.  They had really drank on the cool Tuesday and overnight to Wednesday.

I think we’ll take a peak inside later this afternoon to check the queen status or release her.

Day 3, The Last Package and a NEW Beekeeper!

Once I started talking about getting some hives, my good friend Jimmy asked to get him one.  I first thought he just meant for me to put one at his house, but as we got closer, he indicated he was going to take care of them with my help.
 
Day 3 turned out to be cool (~60) and overcast but we needed to get them in the hive instead of spending more days on the deck.  Fewer pictures in the album ‘Jimmy’s Bees’, but you get the idea.  Check out his pictures by his brave photographer at http://sharrowbaybees.spaces.live.com/
 
He opened the package, placed the queen, and as he removed the feeder can, the workers quickly indicated they were a little more agitated than the first three VERY docile groups.  He did wear gloves but didn’t have the veil on.  A couple of the girls got tangled in his hair and he got his first sting on the top of his head!
 
Our audience started retreating for the house and I took over while he went to get his hat/veil.  I got my first sting in 30+ years on the end of my finger.  It didn’t hurt as much as the stick thing they do to get a drop of blood.
 
As shown in the first picture of the album, his hive has a screen in the bottom board with a grid on a poster board that slides in underneath.  It’s for monitoring (and estimating) the possibility of mites in the hive — something we need to study up on.
 
We probably should have taken more time and sprayed them a little more with sugar water before removing the can and dumping the box, but otherwise it was a fairly standard installation.  Again, no smoke, and only minor agitation.  Within an hour, they were in the hive and feeding on the sugar water.
 
We’ll leave them alone for a few days and probably check to be sure the queens are released this Saturday or Sunday.
 
 
 

Two more Packages

Day 2 I helped a long-time friend hive two packages.  He did the work, I got lots of closeup pictures.  Check out ‘Day 2 – A friend’s two more hives’ photo album.
 
My wife took Saturday’s pictures (with a Telephoto lens!!)   We’re working on her phobia of bees!   She did get within 5′ of the hive when they settled in later in the day.
 
But here’s the Queen — she’s marked with the dot and is noticably larger (long abdomen) and black –This is a Russian strain.  She’s transported in the Queen cage with a half-dozen workers to take care of her.   The third circle of the cage is filled with sugar candy and there’s a hole in the bottom of the cage with a cork plugging it.  We pop the cork so the worker bees from both sides can eat the candy to free the queen in a few days.
 
The metal flange at the top allows us to hang the cage between two frames.  The bees in this package get aclimated with this Queen since they came from another hive late last week.  If you released a different Queen without the aclimation time, they would kill her.
 
 
 
Just like Saturday, the bees are extremely docile and very interested in getting settled in their new home.
 
We did have to improvise a temporary feeder on one of the hives.
 

Sunday – Day Two

 

7:30 am – Chilly this morning but bees weathered the night fine. A few were even up and about.

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