14 June 2007

Beekeeping Update 14 June 2007 (part 3)

Here are some more checking on the bees. The frame that they added the extra thickness of honeycomb to while the 10th frame was removed is shown here. Some books would suggest I scrape this off and make them start over, but I hate to do that to them, especially with us having such a short summer in this climate.
There is a nice pattern of "capped brood" (covered up cells of baby bees incubating). You can also see the "drone" cells that are rather bullet-shaped sticking up a little bit. We purchased a bright green plastic drone frame from the local beekeeping club that we'll put in the hive next time -- hopefully so that the queen lays the majority of her drone eggs on that frame and it can be removed to help discourage varroa mites (kinda like fleas for bees).

The bees have been looking happy and building away inside the hive. Just put a thin/shallow "super" on the hive last week to give them more space to grow. Will try to open the hive tomorrow afternoon, install the drone frame, take photos, etc. :)

Beekeeping Update 14 June 2007 (part 2)

This is us opening the hive for the first time after "installing" them. We had removed one of the 10 frames inside originally to leave room to hang the queen cage in so the bees could get her out. They were "busy little bees", though, and during that time, filled the space where that 10th frame should go with honeycomb.
I did get stung this day... right on the bottom lip!! Someone called to me, and I called back... and it was just as I was pulling out the empty queen cage... and (zap!) I was stung. Not a big problem. I stepped away from the hive for a couple of minutes to compose myself, then went back to putting the hive back together again. Also rather wonder if the leather bracelet I was wearing played into it... was reading later a reminder to not wear wool or leather around the bees. It's a learning curve. :)
We do plan to paint the hive boxes, but just haven't yet. Trying to decide on a colour, too... the standard white? or a dark green to blend with the garden? or a bright pastel colour? There is a beekeeper in Sequim that has all his hives painted in colours like mint green, lilac purple, pink rose, etc. Right now, I only have the one hive body "deep" box, but I do have supplies to build more thin "supers" to put on top. Will decide on the paint and then make sure it dries and airs out before I switch the frames into it.
You can see the bottom board and top outer cover that the kids painted before... that's what I salvaged from the old hive that we attempted 2 years ago. That was some off-white paint, and it dribbled across the metal top, but it worked fine.

Beekeeping Update 14 June 2007

I'm a bit late getting some photos on here about the beekeeping, but better late than never, right? We were going to open up the hive and check on them again today, but the wind was a bit cold and it didn't really die down. Here is a photolog, though, of our progress thus far.

We received the "package" of bees via US Mail on the 28th of April, a Saturday. Got a call from the Post Office around 6:30am, in fact, to let me know I could come down and pick them up!! haha. As you can see here, the bees are clinging to the inside top of the package in a "swarm". You can see the edge of their syrup container they ate from during their trip. The queen is in her own special box in the middle of that clump of bees. You can see there is only a thin layer of dead bees on the bottom of the box. That's normal.

I feel so brilliant... rather than consulting my "Beekeeping for Dummies" book, I thought I could pry the box open... cut the screen... I did everything except lift the little flap to get them out!! Oh well. Both the bees and I survived my insane cutting and prying from every direction to get the blinking box open! :)
The directions for "installing bees" into their new hive that I did use suggested stuffing the opening of the hive with grass. After a day, the grass started to dry out, and the kids had fun watching the bees systematically removing the grass. Bees flying off, holding a blade of shrivelled grass, and dropping it around the yard... the neighbour's yard, etc. They did the same with any dead bees that got dumped into the hive. Kids said they saw a bee fly off, carrying a dead one, and then saw the little spot drop from about 20 feet in the air down into the neighbour's yard. Very interesting.