Saturday, March 31, 2012

Major Bee Work 3/31/12

We spent the entire day working in the bee yards. By day's end, we'd inspected the bulk of the hives in all three yards in our area. We installed two new queens from Mr. Harbo in Louisiana. They're numbered with yellow dots on their backs. They should be easy to spot when we next inspect! We have three more queens to install, and as we're winding down this evening, Mark is contemplating where to put them. We think we're going to requeen a very aggressive colony at Bee Hill (#5, the meanest bees in our enterprise), add one to a hive we suspect has a failing queen at Harley's (#5), and may requeen an aggressive colony at Barhams'.

The biggest surprises of the day were finding our splits were, for the most part doing what they were supposed to: making new queens for themselves from the fresh eggs in the frames we moved with them when we split the hives. Related to that surprise was the occasional discovery of a queen when we thought we'd find only queens-in-the-making. Apparently, we'd transferred a nearly fully developed queen cell into the split (such as Bee Hill #6), and she'd already hatched out and was doing her job.

I typed up extensive notes for Mark (which I won't repeat here). Suffice it to say he was stung several times before he put on his gloves at the end of the day; we added equipment where it was needed, we saw hive beetles in the colonies that aren't on oil trap bottom boards (we're more convinced than ever that they work); we spotted some queens -- I even saw one laying!; we saw pollinators of all kinds and wildflowers galore.

Below are a few photo highlights of the day.

Barhams' Bee Yard

The beavers are back -- we had a lake where we shouldn't.


Crimson clover is all over these days!

The map I made last week after we split hives.

The surprise queen in 2A on Bee Hill. She's in the center.

Marked, numbered queens!

Another queen siting -- can you see her?

"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!"

Going on a bee safari? He put his gear on after this photo, I assure you!
Everything in our bee yard is ahead of schedule and in better shape than this time last year. It's nice to be able to look back at the blog and say, "Oh, we were getting swarms the end of the first week of April!" and "Oh, we let them build up too much last spring -- we could have split them." I think each time we work with our bees, we learn more, and hopefully each season we'll be more efficient and effective.