Royalty in Residence

Fly the royal standard! The queen is residence, at least for now.

Unfortunately, this photo isn’t great because it doesn’t  show how much bigger she is than the worker bees.

Last time we checked California Girls, we didn’t see this big girl, so we were anxious to spot her today. Even when we see plenty of larvae, both small and large, and capped brood, we always feel better when we see the queen.IMG_3591 This is especially true when we have to do a hive check when the sun isn’t at it’s highest making it difficult to ascertain if there are eggs or not.

They’ve also been busy building comb. IMG_3344
I love new comb! Isn’t it beautiful? And if you look closely, you can see some eggs. IMG_3344
This isn’t a good laying pattern. A strong queen would have laid eggs in all those cells, not in such a scattershot pattern, which makes our plan to requeen this hive look like a better and better idea.

This is frame, from the same hive, looks better, but compare it to the pictures of the frames below taken from Buzzers’ Roost a few weeks ago.IMG_6548IMG_4852What Buzzers seem to excel at is bringing in nectar and pollen, especially nectar, as you see below. Note the freshly capped honey in the corners. So pretty. IMG_3703IMG_4572
Also, remember this from our last check? Bees
We experimented by rubberbanding this comb into an empty frame, hoping they would continue building it. IMG_7287
See the original comb at the right? They’ve attached it to the frame and continued to build! IMG_3656
We were even able to take the bands off.

Watch this space to see how they progress. 🙂

And now … for something completely unrelated: My tomato, pepper, and basil plants came in the mail yesterday. I order online because it’s difficult to get organically grown plants at our local nurseries (although I usually get a few organic herb plants from our CSA each spring). IMG_7675
The Engineer made me an enclosure to keep the red squirrels and chipmunks from digging them up.

I’m telling you this because I think it’s funny that my plants look like they’re in plant jail.

Whatever it takes to have home grown tomatoes and peppers this summer!


What Honey Bees Do When Left to Their Own Devices

We checked both hives yesterday.

Buzzers’ Roost (II) seemed to be thriving despite the pesticide deaths. We saw eggs, larvae, capped brood, lots of nectar and pollen, and the queen.

In fact, they seemed to be getting crowded, so we added a deep box full of frames, plus an empty super for feed jars. We don’t use outside feeders because raccoons make a nightly circuit of our yard and would be delighted to gorge on a jar of sweet liquid.

The bees have also been making queen cups — lots of them. Though they were only cups and none had any eggs in as far as we could see, this is something to keep an eye on in case they’re getting ready to swarm.

This morning we had even better news:  There were very few dead bees outside their hive.

Perhaps the worst is over.

California Girls are also doing well, though there was fewer of everything — fewer eggs, fewer larvae, fewer capped brood cups. We also didn’t see the queen, always a little concerning especially this early in the year when the hives aren’t as full, and she should be easy to spot.

This isn’t as worrying as it would be at another time of the year because we plan to try to force them to requeen in the next few weeks anyway so we’ll have a locally reared queen for the winter.

We’ll do this by splitting the hive — taking the “old” queen and a few frames for brood and food and putting them in a nuc. If the full hive doesn’t successfully requeen, we can put them back together. No harm, no foul. And if worse comes to worse, and the queen is already gone, queens are generally available for purchase this time of year.

Still, they’ve been busy, as you can see below.


This lovely piece of fresh comb was brought to you by California Girls. 

Last time we checked their hive, we thought they needed more room, but were reluctant to add a full deep box. We compromised by adding a deep box half full of frames and using the other half for a big jar of sugar water.

I’m not sure we’ll do that again since this was the result. We should know if you give bees space, they feel compelled to fill it.

And yet, it’s gorgeous, isn’t it? Because it was evenly made, we were able to remove the comb from the inner cover and insert it into a foundationless frame, affixed with rubber bands.

This is an experiment which could go horribly wrong because although bees fill empty spaces, they do so by their own logic.

They might build out the comb, attach it to the frame beside it or create something we’d never dream of.

What we hope is they’ll use this comb and the attached frame as a base for a comb made wholly of wax.

Will we be kicking or congratulating ourselves next week?

Check back to find out!