Beekeeping, Gardening and Quilting in Eastern Wake County, North Carolina

Saturday, April 21, 2018


April 12, 2018 Update - I checked 2017 Hive and 0318 Hive.  0318 Hive was doing fine but the 2017 Hive did not have brood and did not see a queen.  I called Mr. Ellis and he came by late afternoon with a queen and to help me check both hives.  Neither of us saw a queen in 2017 Hive and he agreed she must be gone.  So we put the new queen in the 2017 Hive.  Sat her on top of the super and put a small frame box (about 1-2") on top and closed the hive.  This will give the bees room to take care of the queen, get the candy from the box and release the queen.
We did see the queen in 0318 Hive - it's always exciting (nerd alert!).  
The weather has been cold and very windy so I have not checked the hive.  Will do tomorrow (the 18th) since the temps will be in the 70's or higher. I'm still continuing to feed all the hives.  They are slowly taking the sugar syrup.
April 20, 2018 Update - On Wednesday, I opened 2017 Hive, the queen was still in her little box so I took the screened top off and she went inside the hive.  I was more careful when opening and releasing since I lost a queen last year - didn't want to make the same mistake again. 
Queen Bee
So all the hives are working, still feeding and hope we have warmer and more consistent weather soon.  I covered my ferns again last night and will tonight since it'll be in the 30's again.  Have a couple of tomato plants but will wait another week or so before putting them out.

2018 Marked Queen
When buying a Queen, they are marked  with a dot of paint on their thorax.  The color code indicates the birth year of the queen  - red is the color for queen bees for 2018.  Makes the Queen a little easier to find in the hive.

These are photos from the internet.  Just wanted to have an example of what the queen cage looks like and also a marked queen. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Two Packages

Packages of bees are measured by the pound.  There are 3-4,000 bees per pound so Monday I got two 3-lb packages of about 10,000 bees in each package and a mated queen. Packages consist of bees who didn't know that they were leaving home when they woke up on the morning they were poured into a box (package) with a bunch of other bees with a queen who wasn't their mother. If they were swarming bees, they would have filled their bellies with honey in preparation for the swarm. So it's like leaving home with no luggage. They have to draw wax and get started the minute they are installed but without honey in their honey stomachs so they have no resources to make wax. Even with the honey flow and stuff out there, they have to be fed and continue feeding until they stop taking the sugar syrup.
The initial worker bees in the package are not offspring of the queen, and may be any breed. They are usually Italian, as Italians are known to build up fast. The bees and queen have to become accustomed to each other and that's why she is separated at the beginning of this journey. The worker bees will eat thru the candy in her little box so she can get out and get busy laying eggs.
The worker bees draw out comb, collect nectar and pollen, and the queen begins laying eggs, and those eggs begin to mature and emerge. It takes about 21 days for the egg to grow into a bee. Meanwhile, the initial work force will slowly die off, hopefully to be replaced by young bees. The emerging bees are offspring of the queen, and will be true to the queen and her mates. 
0418 Hive #1

0418 Hive #2

Bee Yard April 2018
Yesterday I quickly opened each hive and took out the package bee box and put in the remaining 5 frames.  The bees are working and have settled down.
Bees are amazing just like all the insects, birds, animals - we take so much for granted in our little world.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Two for One or One for Two

Well, I'm not sure which is which . . . but last Wednesday I checked Hive #2.  I thought they might need a super and just to see what was going on inside the hive.  This is the first day we've had in a long time that was warm (above 50 degrees).
So there were two supers and a deep.  I took off the two supers and looked in the deep - guess what!  A queen - yes, there she was so I put the frame back in the deep and put the first super on and checked that super.  Everything looked okay and then I put the top super back on the hive and checked the frames on that super.  Well, lo and behold, there was another queen!  

Inside 2017 Hive
I put everything back together and thought about what I needed to do - this gave the bees times to settle down and when I took the super off to move, I didn't smoke the bees.  I wanted as many bees in the top super as possible. I checked to make sure there was a queen in the super after moving and put a jar of sugar water on the hive.  

0318 Hive
Fast forward to today and the bees are doing fine in both hives.  Feeding both hives and they are bringing in pollen - red, orange, yellow.   
The package bees were delayed a couple of weeks.  Should get them around income tax time. I feel very fortunate or lucky that I found both queens.  So with the packages, I'll have four hives.  Good way to start the new beekeeping year.