Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Thorough Spring Inspection at Bee Hill

On Saturday, April 9th, we spent over three hours going through all six hives on Bee Hill frame by frame.

In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya in "The Princess Bride" -- "Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up."

It got hot. It took a long time. I had to bite my tongue a lot, because I got cranky.  There was good news and bad news.  But on the whole, it was a productive morning.

Hive 1: Confirmed that it swarmed.  We saw brood, but no eggs, and couldn't find the queen.  Lots of honey. Mark is looking for a queen to purchase, but no one has returned his phone calls yet.

Hive 2: Looks great!  We saw the queen (pictured, she's upside down near the center -- if you click on the picture it will get bigger), the brood is beautiful, and we added a medium super so they can start making honey for us.

Hive 3: We need to check soon. The brood was spotty, and we didn't see any eggs so even though we saw the queen, she may not be laying. We checkerboarded frames due to so many empty frames, and didn't add a super as we'd originally planned.

Hive 4: this is the weakest hive.  We didn't see the queen or eggs, there was little brood, and what we saw was all drone brood -- not a good sign. We added a full frame of brood from Hive 5 to boost their numbers. Midweek, Mark replaced the frames that didn't have foundation and had only been partially built with wax by the bees (pictured). We need to requeen, or combine with another hive so perhaps the swarm group that's on the porch will be married to Hive 4.  However, due to the close proximity, we'll have to move both hives to the Barhams or to Harley's house (yes, a third bee yard is in the works).  More on that later!

Hive 5: currently our best hive.  They're calm, we saw the queen, the brood is a beautiful pattern (pictured), they're storing honey and pollen, their population is large, we saw eggs, and bees were just pouring out all over.  Once upon a time, that would have been terrifying. The new medium super we added had wax being drawn, so we'll need to watch this one and make sure we add another medium super to accommodate all of their activity.

Hive 6: Another hive loaded with bees.  I saw my first mites on a drone pupae that got torn up when we started pulling frames.  This was the messiest part of the job today -- the bees were building drone comb in the space between the boxes as it gives them room for the larger comb required.  As Mark scraped all of the frames clean, I looked at the mess for mites and saw them once. This frame had lots of queen cells/swarm cells, so hopefully cleaning them up will prevent this hive from swarming. They should have plenty of space, and interestingly, it took us a while to find the queen but I finally spotted her and she's very dark, unlike all of the other queens.  I didn't get a picture, because by this point I was ready to head to the house!

I don't know which hive this is from, but I love the look on Mark's face!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Crafty Kids? Try Action Packs on

My friend Jana sent me a link to the first Action Pack from because it focused on kid-friendly crafts using paper and beeswax.  I bought it -- $5 well spent for an instant download, no advertisements, and loads of fun activities.

They've since come out with the "Seeds and Beads" issue which is about spring gardening and crafts, but also includes bonus Easter fun. The next issue will be "Sew and Tea" which is sure to be fun as well.

For a review of the first Action Pack, visit craftypod. If you decide to try out one of the Action Packs, let me know!

Enjoy crafting!