Archive for April, 2010

Bees are Way Better than Sims

April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Seriously. We’ve got a “life-simulation” game going on right in our very own backyard. Gender and class issues (queen, worker, drone); environmental concerns (El Niño, the nectar flow); political intrigue (the reliance on foreign sugar water)–all in one little, wooden box.

So, here’s the cast of thousands, foraging, on a fine, spring day.

I wanted my kids to be able to see the pollen baskets on the incoming bees’ legs, so I saved a section in slow motion. The bees seem a bit less graceful when you see how narrowly they avoid bumping into each other. (Or not.) But it’s still impressive that all the take-offs and landings are accomplished without air traffic controllers.

And now for the great news: I saw the queen! She’s a lovely golden color–and, yes, looks like a stretch limo compared to her daughters. She was running around on the 5th frame (of 8). The bees have drawn out beautiful, white comb on about 7-1/2 of the frames. There’s capped brood and larvae on the middle frames–and brightly colored cells of pollen (orange, yellow), as well as lots of nectar, on the outer frames and on the tops of the middle frames. This was a wonderful hive inspection. (Or as the bees would probably say, “Hey, a space alien just took off our roof!”)

The bees needed more room, so I stacked another brood box on top. They’re well on their way to a lovely, cedar high-rise.

Sugar water bottle empty; replaced with fresh 800 ml bottle.


A Reprieve

April 19, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m so curious to see what’s happening in the hive–particularly since I didn’t see the queen or evidence of her existence (eggs) during the first hive inspection. Since there’s much foraging activity–and more stormy weather forecast, starting late tonight–I’ll give the little dears a break and not remove their roof today.

Sugar water bottle empty; replaced with fresh 800 ml bottle.

Categories: Uncategorized

Grand Opening

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Big day today–the first official hive inspection. Lighting the smoker went better and I got the hive open quite easily. Despite the relatively warm, sunny weather, there were a ton (ok, probably three pounds) of bees in the hive. And they were hard at work.

If you look closely, you can see where they’ve started drawing out the comb on the wax foundation.

There were several cells with bright yellow or orange pollen–and some cells were already filled with glistening nectar.

But I couldn’t find the queen or any eggs. This could mean: (1) she’s gone to the Great Beehive in the Sky and we’re doomed or (2) I’m too myopic to find tiny white eggs on pure white comb. I’ll check again in a few days…

Otherwise, though, our little friends seem to be thriving. Lots of foraging activity and the feeder bubbling away like a water cooler.

So, I closed up the hive carefully–without squishing anyone. Whew.

Sugar water bottle empty; replaced with fresh 800 ml bottle.

Stormy Weather

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

It was very windy and rainy this morning, but I wanted to get the shipping package out of the bottom brood box. After some trouble getting the smoker lit, I opened up the hive and saw that the queen (and mini marshmallow stopper) were both gone from the queen cage–a bit earlier than expected. I didn’t want to chill everyone while I looked for Her Majesty, so I’m hoping she’s doing well. I’ll open up the hive again in a few days.

Below you’ll notice two distinct styles of beekeeping attire: me in my haz-mat suit; Nancy, in regular clothes, making friends with a bee that landed on her finger.

There were still a bunch of bees clustered in the package, so we (unceremoniously, I’m afraid) helped them onto the landing before it got much rainier. Although it wasn’t the smoothest transfer (months of book learning don’t add up to five minutes of experience), the bees were gracious and calm. They’re now all in one medium brood box. As you can see from the half-empty sugar water bottle, they clearly love my cooking.

Sugar water imbibed = 400ml

Categories: Uncategorized

Congratulations, it’s a bee (x10,000)!

April 11, 2010 1 comment

The blessed bundle of bouncing bees arrived this morning. After several false starts last night–the truckload of 1,000,000 bees was delayed by bad weather–I raced over to pick them up during a break in the rain. They were remarkably calm in their package.

There were five bees hanging on to the outside of the box. I didn’t particularly want them buzzing around while I was driving home, but, fearing they were part of a separated family, I let them stay. (They were extremely well behaved in the car.) Here’s my approach to proper bee safety:

The wind and rain kicked up right as we arrived home. I hastily (remember this adverb) suited up and rushed outside. I sprayed the bees with sugar water; pried the syrup can off the package; found the queen and, after swapping out the cork stopper for a mini marshmallow, attached her cage to a frame. It was then that I noticed a slight tickling sensation, edging slowly up my leg…This is the exact moment I had the terrible realization.
After freezing in horror for just a couple of seconds, I put the opened bee package in the bottom brood box, stacked the box with the frames and queen on top, and closed up the hive. Such presence of mind.
My “wardrobe malfunction” was the result of a small gap between my ankle and jeans+bee suit. The errant, pants-traveling bee (perhaps one of the five hangers-on) did me the kindness of not stinging. Whew.
Boardman feeder: 800 ml 1:1 sugar water (simple syrup!)

Model Home

April 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Model Home

The hive is all ready–one medium brood box for now. The bees arrive for local pickup around 6:30pm. I’m taking the whole family to meet our new friends–and hoping all the bees remain in their package for the drive home…

Tonight I’m preparing dinner for 10,006.

Categories: beekeeping, bees, honeybee Tags:

And so it begins…

April 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Beekeeping supplies arrive (none too soon)

Six large boxes arrived today. After a crazed, kid-assisted unpacking, the whole house smells wonderfully of cedar and honeycomb.

Categories: beekeeping, bees, honeybee