I thought that I'd give you a bee update...we've had the hives for a week shy of two months. As mentioned in a previous post, we have a "Good Hive" and a "Bad Hive" - this holds true today...well sorta. On Saturday, we did a full hive inspection on both hives. We took them all apart, looked through the frames - searched to find glimpses of pollen, brood (bee babies) and yes...honey. We always start with the "Bad Hive", I guess it's the, I'd rather hear the bad news first so the good news can start to cheer me up situation.
In case you missed the previous post, here's a little background on the "bad hive" - when we picked up the nucs (five frames of an established hive, including bees, brood and a queen), we noticed almost immediately that this have was failing to thrive. I saw some brood in there that seemed older. I didn't notice any larva. I never saw the queen. It wasn't looking good for this hive - especially when comparing it to the other one that was really thriving well. We took photos of each frame - front and back and took the photos to our beekeeping association meeting and our leader confirmed what I thought, that our hive was queenless. UGH. Well, in nature, typically, if a hive is queenless, they will typically take some of the larva and create a new queen; however, in our situation, there wasn't uncapped larva that could have been converted. So option two was that we buy a new queen - except that we had just spent $130 on the nuc and didn't really have extra funds to buy a new queen at full price - nor did we have enough live bees to help support a new queen, since our bee population was dwindling. If our other hive was well established by then, then we could steal a bit from them - but even though they were doing well, we didn't want to stress them and have two mediocre hives. So we contacted the gentleman that got us the original nucs (he purchased a large amount of nucs and then sold them off to people like us) - he REALLY helped us out. For $20 he came out and essentially brought us another whole nuc - five frames, a new queen and all the fixings to make a strong healthy hive. At first, it seemed like things were getting better. He stressed to us that, since our hive now had five built out frames, we should get another empty brood box on top - to encourage the bees to continue building out the frames. So we did. A few days later, we checked on the queen, to make sure that they hive had accepted her and didn't kill her. She was wandering around the frames, doing her thing. They accepted her! As time went on though, rather than seeing more and more activity, we started to see a bit less. We took a look at the hive and couldn't find the queen - that doesn't mean that she wasn't in there, it just means that we couldn't find her - but given their activity it made me feel like we lost her, again. When we did our hive inspection this past weekend though, we SAW her! Although they weren't building out any of the frames in the upper brood box (due to a low nectar flow happening right now). We were seeing brood patterns - as they should be...and I got SO excited when we saw that beautiful queen walking through!! We decided that we should close up the hive and let them go back to work. We've officially upgraded this hive to the "Getting Better" hive. We'll open it up again this weekend to make sure that the queen continues to do her job. My theory - I believe that the second queen actually died (eventually was killed?) - I think she started to give the hive some direction and something happened and they ended up making a new queen...she's here and getting everything really back on track. I'm finally excited about this hive. Go Queen Go!
Now let's talk about the "Good Hive" - ummmm hello - this hive freaking ROCKS! They are filling out BOTH brood boxes - we looked through each frame and they are building them out and filling them with absolutely beautiful rainbow patterns of brood, then pollen and honey (in the corners). Our bees are so smart that they took advantage of the honey flow and decided to convert an entire deep frame to store honey. Geez I just love those bees! Each frame I pulled out we were more and more excited - praising the girls for the amazing job that they were doing. Exciting indeed.
We ended each inspection by sprinkling powdered sugar over the top of each hive - to give them a special treat and a thank you for being so awesome. Also, sprinkling the bees encourages them to groom themselves and each other - which helps with mite control. We have a screened bottom board in which makes it so that if a bee does take off a mite it just drops to the ground!
This weekend we'll be adding honey supers on the hives - well, at least the Good Hive, and we'll have to make an executive decision about the Getting Better Hive, once we are in there. We'll also be feeding them with some sugar water (1:1 sugar and water, in a ziplock bag - we'll lay the bag on top of the frames and cut slits or make poke holes in there and let the bees get in there and use it how they feel best). I'm hoping for another exciting inspection this weekend...and dreaming of sweet home grown honey, possibly as early as this fall. Yum!
In June of 2011, my husband, three of our five children, our Black Lab (Blue) and our four inside cats (Freak, Fizzle, Rusty, and Bella) and three rabbits (Luna, Midnight and Winchester) have been living at our 1.3 acre farmhouse. We’ve been working on converting the land back to a farm. Since moving here, we’ve acquired a Great Pyrenees (Ollie), a number of outside kitties, a handful of goats, a couple sheep, a couple alpacas and bees/chickens are scheduled to arrive Spring of 2013. We also planted a number of fruit trees on the property (and plan to add a few more) and have been working on putting in gardens to grow as much of our own food as possible. We certainly aren’t experts in any of this, please join our adventure as we muddle through becoming farmers, beekeepers, shepherds and more.