While the weather hasn't truly begun to cool, the bees are preparing for the long winter, when they must eat what they've stored. Part of keeping bees is determining how much honey you can keep for yourself (or to sell) and how much they need to survive the lack of nectar until spring. I wanted to share a photo of what their pollen stores look like. Whereas earlier in the summer frames would be solid with honey or a combination of honey and brood, they now have frames with bright yellow deposits of pollen. It's the bees' protein source and is essential for rearing brood. For the record, bee pollen is considered by some a health food that cures all ills, but that's a story for another time.
While I was returning from a work trip to Tupelo and Booneville, Mark installed a new queen in Hive 1. He ordered her from Georgia, because the idea of losing that hive due to queen problems was driving him crazy. The lady in Georgia told him to leave both ends of the queen cage corked for three days, then go see how the bees are behaving and see if he can find a queen existing in that hive. If he finds one, and eggs as proof of laying, he can requeen another hive, for instance, 2 or 3 -- he thinks one of the two is not active enough but can't remember which one. If the bees in Hive 1 aren't aggressive and he can't find a queen or eggs, he can take one cork out to begin the candy-eating-release process.
In other bee news, we received $180 as part of the grant from MBA, as well as a receipt for our conference fees. I've already determined that if a vendor at the conference(October 28-29) has a queen marking pen and cage, we're getting it to make our lives easier looking for queens. Here is a photo of a marked queen from Ebert Honey in Iowa. You can imagine how much easier it would be to see her among the rest! You can pay extra to have the vendor mark the queen, but so far we've forgotten to request it.
And I use the term "we" liberally here. ;-)
Last but not least, our entrance reducers arrived. Did you know that mice love to build nests in bee hives during the winter? Bees tend to congregate together in the center of the brood box and "flex their bee muscles" to keep the temperature up; therefore, mice, if not prevented by some sort of entrance reducer, can sneak in and build a nest in a corner with little fear.