May 2, 2010

One little nasty bee

May has arrived. The apple trees are blooming and the temperatures reached into the high 70’s this weekend.

The bees were flying , collecting pollen and nectar.

Above:  Bees were working the apple blossoms
this past weekend.

As usual I conducted hive inspections Saturday. I was curious to see how the hive with the superseded queen was doing. Upon inspection I found new eggs, and larva.

She is laying, but she is very small, much smaller than the queen she replaced.

I have read recently that queens raised in an emergency situation, such as she was, are not as good. She will do for now until a suitable replacement is available later in the spring.

The workers seem to like her, and she is laying eggs. Another week will tell how her "pattern" is . Will she lay in every cell, or will there be many empty cells?

Left:  Collecting nectar

I continue to feed the bees sugar syrup at a slow pace, about a quart a week. I have had conditions in the past where the bees have stored so much sugar syrup that the queen has run out of room, and the colony goes into "swarm mode".

For now we just want to stimulate the queen into laying eggs…. A lot of eggs. The main honey flow is only three weeks away.

Right.  Another bee works the apple blossoms.

One of the hives has been experiencing what beekeepers call “dwindling”. The hive came through the winter well, but has slowly been shrinking in size despite my efforts. They were down to about 100 bees so I took one frame of larva, and one frame of emerging brood from one of the strong colonies and added them to this hive to strengthen it. I also shook in two frames of nurse bees. I am hoping that this hive will do a "U" turn and start to increase.

This weeks inspections found another surprise. A very strong colony with no eggs, larva, or brood. This could only mean one thing… the queen has gone missing. They did have two queen cells that I left for them.

This particular hive is one of two packages of bee we received from Georgia last spring. This hive is the meanest in the apiary (it is only moderately aggressive, and then only when they have been disturbed for a while). You can work them for about five minutes before you have about ten guard bees buzzing at you. Of course the condition of a missing queen, and no brood did not make them any happier.

One of the guard bees followed me around the rest of the day. Buzzing at me.

Even the next day he was "waiting" for me in the yard. He was determined to get me!

Left:  A guard bee watching over the opening of the inner hive cover of my nasty hive.

I said…. “its not my fault your queen went missing…. Maybe she left because you are so mean!”

I managed not to get stung though.

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