Bee Blog

Bees in the snow

  The snow is finally here and I will be getting many calls from new beekeepers about  seeing their bees dead in the snow. I tell them the same answer each time. You will see spotting and dead bees in the snow out in front of the hive. This is perfectly normal. Its actually a good sign. It means your bees are still alive. I also let them know what we do to help the bees in the winter. I put fondant into all the hives on a warm day in late December. So I wont check the hives again until mid February. I will put more fondant and a half of a pollen patty next visit to the hives. Hope the bees came make it until spring.

Clustering Honey Bee

  Today was a cold day.  It was 16 degrees this morning on the way to the shop. I walked into the shop and went right over to the observation hive. The bees are tightly clustered around a small patch of brood. I saw my queen laying eggs 2 weeks ago. The bees weren't moving around at all. Very boring. So I started working. I did go back to the hive a couple times like I normally do. The bees weren't moving at all. Today only warmed up to 30s.

Bee Talk

  Just wanted to wish everybody a Happy Holiday and a quick reminder that the Bee Talk meeting will be held on January 7th.  Look forward to seeing you there.  Please RSVP by calling 978-535-1622.

Learning From An Observation Hive

  We had made a nucleus hive to install into the observation hive earlier this spring. I had picked a large light colored queen that was marked for easy identification. Two weeks after installing the marked queen, Jan noticed the workers were cleaning the blue dot off. So much for having a marked queen. A couple weeks ago I noticed 4 swarm cells. The evening before it swarmed I was teaching a beginners beekeeping class. A few students had stayed late to ask questions and watch the bees in the observation hive. We found the queen and watched her laying eggs. She would walked around looking for an empty cell. Then she would curl her body and back into cell to lay her eggs. This queen had a very good brood pattern and was running out of room to lay eggs. The hive was very crowded. That is why the hive was going to swarm. I left the store at 10:00pm and the queen was still laying eggs. I was busy bottling honey the following morning. Thats when my father called me to let me know the observation hive was swarming. It was about 10:00 am.  I am not sure what time she stopped laying eggs the night before. But I do know she was laying eggs less than 12 hours before she swarmed. For the next handful of days I kept an eye on the queen cells in the observation hive. It was about 2 days later I noticed 1 of the queen cells had emerged. Over the next couple days, the other queen cells were torn down. We all checked the hive for the new queen whenever we had a minute or two.  Finally on day 6 I spotted her. She was tough to spot because of her small size and dark color. For the next 2 days we couldn't find her again. We figured she might be out on her mating flight. I think it was Jan who found her again. The queen was still small and would just wander around. The worker bees seemed to ignore her. This went on for 5-6 days. Finally a week after she returned to the hive Jan and Vin watched her laying eggs. Now it has been over 20 days since the swarm. This morning I watch the queen laying eggs and noticed she seemed to double in size since I first saw her. She had been busy over the past week or so. There was almost 3 full frames of capped brood with a very good brood pattern. It could possibly swarm again.


Swarm Season

   Here it is June already. I caught my first two swarms Saturday and it has been raining ever since. Tomorrow is foretasted to be a nice sunny day. I bet there will be a few swarms going off. We will be visiting a few apiaries to check the honey supers and for swarm cells. We will also drive past a fellow beekeepers apiary and check the trees around it for swarms. He doesn't check his hives as often as you should and I have a captured a swarm near his apiary for the past several years. I caught 3 in one afternoon a couple years ago.  I hope to catch a few swarms tomorrow.

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