Sunday, May 12, 2013

Autumn's Bees and Chloe's Bees

   I was able to examine some of my bee hives this past week. It was nice to have so much warm weather. I don't recall ever having a full 10 or 12 days in a row in which the highs were in the 70s in May. Usually we don't even get that kind of weather until late June. The warm weather is nice for working the bees. I can't do hive exams at temperatures below 60 without risking the brood being chilled. The warm weather has been good for the fruit trees too.  At this point I have good fruit set on all five of my sweet cherry trees and the Asian pear. I'm assuming the apples will all be well pollinated as they bloomed when the weather was so lovely.  The only negative so far on the fruit front is my very earliest plum. I have three varieties grafted onto my plum tree. The earliest, Shiro, bloomed before the weather warmed up and I have only a few plums developing on those two limbs. I'm hoping that I've done better on the two later plum varieties.

    On Friday (May 10)I looked at the package I had installed for my grand daughter, Autumn, on Friday, May 4th. I was very pleased with their progress considering I had just installed them in the hive six days earlier.  The bees had made very good progress on drawing out the comb on the middle five frames.  In beekeeping lingo "drawing out comb" means the bees are making wax and building the honeycomb in which the queen lays the eggs, the brood (baby bees) develop and the pollen and nectar are stored. I took photos with my iPhone and was amazed at the results.

Good progress for just one week

Note the different colors of pollen

The cells at the top are filled with pollen. Eggs can be seen at the bottom of the middle cells..

Queen Autumn the First

     I looked at Chloe's hive on Saturday.  This hive is from a swarm I had hived on Tuesday morning (May 7).  The bees were making very good progress drawing out comb and had stored a lot more nectar than they could have gotten from the small amount of syrup they had taken from the feeder. The bad news was that there was no evidence of a queen.  Considering how well they had drawn out the comb I should have been able to find some eggs. Usually when I hive a swarm they turn out to have a laying queen.  On rare occasions, the swarm ends up queenless.  Possibly she was damaged when the bees were sucked into the bee vac. It is also possible that this was not a prime swarm.  A prime swarm is the first and often only swarm to leave the colony. The reigning queen leaves with the swarm so that swarm starts out with a mated queen.  Sometimes after swarms or secondary swarms will issue from a hive. Usually those swarms are much smaller than a prime swarm and are accompanied by virgin queens.  In this particular case the swarm had about 4 pounds of bees and seemed much too large to be a secondary swarm. It is more likely they left with a mated queen and something bad happened to her in the process of the swarm being collected. My current plan is to check the hive again in a few days. If there is still no evidence of a queen I will try installing a new queen. I currently don't have any queens in stock at the bee store, but I have a shipment of queens that will arrive Tuesday morning. My plan is to install a marked queen from that shipment and give this hive another week to get things sorted out before I move them to Oregon.

    Autumn's queen is marked white because I always ask our package bee supplier to use white. Most of my customers want the queens marked white as it easier to spot a queen with a white mark than any of the other four colors used to mark queens. They actually have an official five year rotation with a different color used each year in the cycle. This year the official color is red, not a particularly helpful color to the new beekeeper.  The marked queens  I will receive on Tuesday will therefore be marked red.  The girls' beehives will be like "Through the Looking Glass". There will be a white queen in one hive and a red queen in the other.  Although in this case, both queens will probably have somewhat of an attitude.

No comments:

Post a Comment