Friday, March 30, 2012

Paying it forward

My mentor, Mary Duane, is fabulous and I miss her!  It seems like she was always taking my calls and emails about this, that or the other with the girls. She came dashing over when I was in a panic and she suffered through the Mean Bee Period.  She is a saint as far as I am concerned.

Alas as I get more experienced as a beekeeper, my emails, calls and visits are few and fewer.

But I actually have the opportunity to pay her kindness and good will forward. I am going to be helping mentor a new beekeeper in my community. I am beyond excited about this opportunity. He should be getting his first bees this spring and will be visiting my girls this weekend - if the snow (yes SNOW) cooperates at the temps really do reach the 50' promise of the meteorologists.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bee School Tee shirts

This is the last day to order Bee School Tee shirts.

This is on the back:
And this will be front left: 

Colors are
sky blue
light green
heather gray
yellow haze
bright pink.

Drop me line if you want one - but don't wait, the orders go in tomorrow. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

prose and a new queen

Working the bees is generally poetry to me. The smell of the bees and their wax, the hum of their work, the zen rhythm of our movements together...

This day was not poetry. This day was entirely prose. 

I took down the dead colony and cleaned the hive. The weather was cool and the work was dirty. You wouldn't think the dead insects would be so grimy but it was. I cleaned each frame of any excess wax and propolis rendering my hive tool a mess and gloves no better. Soon sweat and blood added to the earthy mix.

The bees in the other colony did not seem to care about my presence so close to their home or perhaps it was smell of dead bees that held them at bay. Regardless, when I took off my gloves, I didn't worry about getting stung. 

It was easier anyway. I pulled the dead bees from the cells with my finger nails until I had added bee guts to my smear of filth covering my hands and hive tool. The veil soon followed so I could look for the queen in the mass of dead bees at the base of the bottom box. 

She was never found, but easily could have been there. The pile was much bigger and deeper than I originally suspected. 

So the hive boxes are cleaned and ready to go when I can get a queen from the remaining colony.

Those bees seemed to sense the need for a queen even it isn't exactly in their own hive. Their queen is laying beautifully - while she remains enigmatic, her eggs and larvae are abundantly evident. Along with a supercedure cell. If they make more than one, I will be ready to requeen shortly. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

One is the loneliest number...

We are down to one hive. Our smaller hive was fine at the February check and seem to be doing all right but not great. Yesterday, being 65' out in our yard, we headed out to bring honey and to a big check. There were only dead bees in one hive. Still so much honey it was very hard to lift the upper super and... ok this is kinda gross ... fairly freshly dead bees.

Freshly dead, I can hear you asking.

They weren't missing parts or particularly fragile and the freshly dead bees weren't dried out and crispy. Yeah, eeeww.

The remaining hive is a super looking hive and had a plethora of bees. (Yep, that's for your M!)

I am thinking that we might split the big hive early and either give them a queen if we can find a Yankee queen (one whose mother overwintered here) or let them make a queen (must wait for drones to be grown or she'll remain a virgin).

So, there is still time to plan but not much. Spring is coming early this year and pollen producing plants are out. The first flowers of the year are in bloom now and pollen is coming in.