Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bee Yard Inspection at Prairie Wildlife

Yesterday Mark drove out to Prairie Wildlife in West Point to add honey supers in anticipation of the soybeans blooming. He was upset to find that since his last visit two or three of the hives' lids had been blown off in the recent storms. We have no idea how long the bees had to put up with all of that light, wind, and rain! Not their favorite way to live.

So today, after the rain storm and power outage (!) he loaded the 4-wheeler onto the trailer, put heavier lids in the back of the truck, and we headed out. Thankfully, it was only 75 degrees! Not that it lasted . . .

We looked through all of the hives except the "tower of power" on the end. For the most part, they're doing well, though growing more slowly than we anticipated. Most are not generating excess honey stores yet.

We found one hive that was queenless but loaded with honey and pollen. We combined it with one of the hives that had been exposed to the elements, but still had a healthy queen. We hope they'll join forces and create a strong, healthy colony.

It was nice to be out with Mark, working the bees together. I've missed it.

Photo highlights:

It wasn't smoky . . . my lens fogged up when I got out of the truck. ;-)
All of the hives, before we inspected.

Snack time!

If you can't see the queen here, folks, I can't help you.
These bees are making use of every cell -- pollen is interspersed with uncapped and capped brood.

Pretty, fresh brood comb. Well done, Queenie!

Newspaper combining a healthy colony with a queenless colony.

Ah, Summer!

We've been busy, as have the bees!

After inspecting Bee Hill, Mark spent the 4th of July painting honey supers. He anticipates a big harvest.

We're in the final stages of redesigning our logo and honey labels, and I'm *very excited!* I'll give you a sneak peak when everything is finalized.

Today I met the new Extension apicultural specialist, that is, beekeeping expert. I've got a news release about him coming out this week at work, which I'll post here after it's out. He came to MSU from USDA's bee breeding lab in Louisiana, but has been a beekeeper since he caught his first swarm at age 8. Welcome to MS, Dr. Jeff Harris!

My garden is surviving. The hummingbirds are in constant battle over the feeders -- and we have 3! I'm selling honey in fits and starts through a couple of different Facebook pages. The spring harvest is almost gone. The soybeans are in bloom.

Tonight Mark is assembling frames to make cut-comb honey. This involves papery thin sheets of wax, bobby pins, and teeny-tiny nails.

All in all, life is good at PBBF. I hope your summer is going well, too!