Monday, April 28, 2008

Long live the queen

  • A couple of inspections this weekend turned up a missing queen.

I probably spent too much time in the hives this weekend. If the bees could blog, they would probably agree. Early Saturday morning, I opened all of the hives to see what I could see. Since I'm not all that experienced, I didn't know what I was looking at a lot of the time, but it was fascinating to watch.

  • Hive 4: This is the nuc hive, the one I just got from friend and master beekeeper Coley O'Dell. It seems to be doing fine. The bees are multiplying, they're taking their food, and they are spreading out to the other frames from the central three where they started. I will probably need to put a new box of frames on them before long.

  • Hive 3: The swarm hive is doing exactly what a swarm hive should do: drawing comb like crazy. I have given them two boxes of frames to work on, but they're only interested in the top box so far. They are spreading out and drawing comb, and they are taking the feed like they should. It will be interesting to see what happens with these little guys.

  • Hive 2: The tall hive is full of bees, and they are mighty busy. Any time you look at the hives from the outside, this is where you see the most activity. Their front porch is like LaGuardia with constant take-offs and landings. Inside, the frames are covered with bees, thousands and thousands of bees. They haven't started putting up any honey in the box above the queen excluder yet, but I have high hopes for this colony.

  • Hive 1: This is the hive that we re-queened earlier this month. About a week after we put the queen cage in, I checked the hive, and she was still in the cage. The bees didn't seem particularly interested in eating through the sugar in the cage, so I dug out the cork on the other side so she could get out. She left the cage, but at the time, I couldn't see what had happened to her. When I checked again on Saturday morning, the hive was full of bees but not as much evidence of brood cells as I was expecting to see. I was beginning to worry that something had happened to her. Sally and I went back last night, opened that hive and looked carefully at many of the frames. And, by chance, we found the queen. She looked healthy and active, so I decided to close the hive and declare that all was well -- at least for the moment.

So, for now, the hives are closed, and the bees are at work. We have had a couple of days of desperately needed rain in this part of east Tennessee, which should help garden and bees alike. The next move in the apiary will be to put a box of frames on Hive 4.

No comments: