Friday, April 15, 2016

hive boxes flipped

In addition to freeing my stuck queen, I also flipped the boxes on my older hive today. I did a full inspection of the hive. There are several frames of brood and capped brood and obviously more bees than last time. They are only using the top box and going in and out of the top hole. So, I reversed the top and bottom boxes. Probably no real need to have done this. I just thought they should be using the bottom board for entry and exit.

Switching boxes gave me a chance to check the amount of honey left. Both boxes weigh about 30 lbs, I'd guess. I have plenty more honey saved for them. I'll see what things look like in a week. I think I should be doing brief weekly checks now, to make sure they don't run out of food.

bees IMG_5739 bees IMG_5757

I'm amazed at all the different colors of pollen they are bringing in now. In the lower right corner of this picture, there are many shades of blue, orange, yellow and red. It looks like they are sorting it by color!

queen stuck in cage

I checked on my newly installed bees this morning. The queen was still in the cage!! There was no sign that the bees were eating the candy plug at all! I can't believe it. I was so pleased that I installed the package right this time and now the bees didn't do their part!

Unfortunately, it's been 4 days since I installed them. (I had a busy week.) I hope the queen is OK still. I let her out. She looked fine. Small. I think what happened is that the bees were all to busy eating all the honey and pollen I gave them and they weren't interested in the candy plug.

bees IMG_5744 bees IMG_5746 bees IMG_5749 bees IMG_5750

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

crazy weather - lost hives

This crazy weather has had bad consequences on many things, including bees.

It's halfway into April and our weather is still chilly - rainy, dark and cold. What an odd year. After our incredibly warm February, I thought spring was here early. But now March and April have been wintry. Our early flowers were hit by frost and are now brown mush. A friend of mine lost two hives recently and she said others have had the same problem. Their bees broke their clusters in February and didn't reform when the cold hit, so they died in March. I think this happens when the queen lays early brood, the bees spread out to keep the brood warm. When cold hits, the bees don't know they can't keep all the brood warm, and the whole hive dies. Too bad - crazy weather.

(BTW- This isn't what happened to my hive - it died in the middle of the winter.)

Monday, April 11, 2016

new package installed

installing bees  IMG_5716 installing bees IMG_5721

To prepare my new hive, I set up a deep box with four new frames (the ones with wood edges) in the middle and six drawn frames (the ones with black plastic edges). The two adjacent to the new frames were extracted, the other four were full of honey. I'm glad to be able to feed the new bees honey. (It's from my hive that died in the middle of the winter.) I think they'll like this better than sugar water.

installing bees  IMG_5726 installing bees IMG_5727

They were very nice bees. I dumped them all in the box. And I put the queen in correctly. I didn't break the metal hanger or remove the wrong plug like last year. I'll check in two days to make sure she got out.

Monday, March 21, 2016

pollen in my honey - questions

I used a metal honey strainer the last two times I prepared honey. I found that the honey ends up less clear, more particulates in it. I think the particulates are pollen. Is this a good reason for using a metal strainer? Pollen in the honey is good!

The other explanation for my pollinated honey is that the honey I prepared with a cloth strainer last fall was from a honey super, while honey I prepared recently was from frames at the edges of brood boxes. Do bees add as much pollen to supers as they do to brood boxes? Lots of questions, but really delicious honey.

honey IMG_5508

bee with early spring pollen

bee with willow pollen IMG_5491

This is one of my bees with the light yellow pollen that I think is willow pollen.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


It's St Patrick's Day. Another sunny day in the 60's - hard to believe for March.

I used an extractor yesterday to remove honey from three frames (another 15 lbs of honey for me). It's the first time I've used an extractor. I rented it - $15 for 2 days from my local bee club. Pretty good. It's a bulky piece of equipment to store at home. If the club location wasn't a 40 min drive from me, I would surely rent it regularly. But I may consider buying one instead next time.

I opened the hive today to replace two unworked frames with these newly extracted frames. I put the unworked frames in the hive last week, taking out two frames full of honey and making space for brood in my honey-bound hive.

I was so excited to see the bees' progress today! In a week, the bees had built up half of one fresh frame. Since the other fresh frame was I unworked, I took it out and substituted the extracted frame. Most exciting, there were many, very tiny, curled up larvae in the hive!!! Yeah! There's a queen and she's laying.

Last week a few bees were bringing in a very pale yellow pollen. Today many bees have this same pale yellow pollen. My guess is willow pollen. That's a big source of pollen and nectar for them. An exciting day.