Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Checking on my Queen

At the end of last week I finally had a chance to go back to my hive. I wanted to go back and remove the queen cage that I had bound to a frame. I removed my inner cover and noticed the rubber band was missing that I had used to secure the queen cage with ... I was a little scared that it broke and the cage had dropped. I did notice, before I began removing frames, some of the worker bees were sticking there tail ends in the air and beating there wings. They were fanning out pheromones signaling  their sisters to come to them.

A Lady Fanning Her Pheromones 

I slowly began removing frames and was checking thoroughly for my queen. With the first frame removed I was able to see the queen cage and it was empty (thank goodness). I knew the queen had been released but was she laying? As I started turning over the frame in my hand I noticed a queen cell. This was just my luck to  install a new hive and have the queen already replaced. I didn't know how this had already happened and what it meant for my colony. Set the frame down and gave my mentor a quick call (would highly recommend attending a bee meeting and make some friends).  As to what was going on: 

When a colony is first installed into the hive, the queen is still in her cage and will not be laying for a couple of days. During this time that she is caged, the colony has interpreted her as being weak, therefore the begin to develop queen cells. When she is finally released and begins to lay she will go through and kill off the queen cells that were produced. I was told not to worry, scrap off the queen cells and go through my frames and check for eggs and larva. I was also told that as a newbie I was to remove the queen cell and taste the royal jelly that it held..."It is a delicacy and is the initiation into beekeeping". Lets just say I'm a beekeeper.

He also mentioned that if the queen hadn't been released and I was still seeing queen cells, the package that I had received had a queen already in it. In this case I had many different options.

I removed the queen cell from the frame and began looking for eggs. While looking over the frame I noticed that the bees were already storing food and out of the glimpse of my eye, I saw her!

My Queen Bee
I was really excited to be able to spot my queen and see that she was doing great. I checked some other frames and noticed patches of laid eggs and larva. I concluded that the bees must have chewed through the rubber band and everything was okay. 

My hive was looking great, the colony strong and I was happy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Installing My Package

My Package of Bees
On March 28th I picked up my package of bees from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm. I had watched an instructional video and read information on installing a package but holding my package, with hundreds of bees, made me a little nervous. The day was looking great and I had my hive ready... it was time to install my package.

Before I brought out my bees I wanted to double check and make sure that I had everything prepared for the installation ( I would hate to be pouring out my bees and forget something at the house). Double checked my equipment: spray bottle with sugar water mix, hive tool, rubber bands (3), protective clothing and the cell phone in case I needed to call someone. For the other newbies that are installing their packages I would check out the Brushy Mountain Video first to make sure you have all the steps down and feel comfortable during the process.

Spraying Down My Bees

Brought out my package and began spraying the bees down with sugar water. They fall so nicely when you bump them against your hive. Removed the feeder can and the queen; she looked pretty and all the attendance were alive as well. Gave one last spraying, took a deep breath and removed the wood plank covering the hole.  Now I braved the installation by only wearing  a veil with no gloves or jacket (again it was a nice day out) so when I started pouring hundreds of bees into my hive and they started buzzing around me, a cold chill ran straight up my back. I was ready to close up shop and get out of there but , with the reference video in mind, I took a deep breath and slowly lowered my frames back into the hive.

Successful Installation