Bees · Queen Bee

Spring is back – maybe?

Farm hive, March 2017

We were so happy to see that our farm hives are winning the battle against small hive beetles when we were down there last weekend.  The Beetle Blaster traps are working well, although I still struggle to remove them without spilling at least a few drops of oil in the hive.   Our bees are propolizing like crazy right now, so the traps end up firmly glued in.  If I don’t loosen them up enough, they get stuck and then spill.  If I slide my hive tool along the sides too deeply, I tear a hole in the side.  Maybe I just need more practice.

All of the hives at the farm have gained strength now that the bees are not spending all their time chasing beetles and there is a plethora of nectar available to them.  We took one of our older hives from the city down there to see if the bees are any happier there.  The hive has served us well and the old queen laid many eggs when food was available to the hive.  The problem is, they have become increasingly mean.  Inspecting them was no fun at all and once in a while one would “get a bee in its bonnet” (bad use of an idiom, I know) and chase us into the house.  I don’t know if they feel threatened by my long hair, but angry bees often became tangled up in it, which made both them and me more angry!  We decided they could no longer live in the city.   The hive replaced the queen a couple of weeks ago, so bees from the new queen could well be more friendly.  If not, we’ll replace her with a queen from one of our gentle hives.   If hubby had had his way, the old queen would have been replaced in January, if not last fall.  I am becoming more practical and believe I will eventually be able to see an aging queen as disposable, but I’m wasn’t there in January.  After being chased across the yard a few times over the last few weeks, I may be there now!

Our city hives came through the most recent cold snap well.  Only a few were using the feeder buckets last weekend, but the buckets were crowded yesterday.  Once it warms up, I’ll put hive top feeders back on our new NUCs so that they can rebuild their stores.  The first swarm capture was a little low on bees last weekend, and we had queenless and broodless bees in one of the queen castle sections.   We combined them by stacking a second NUC body on top of the first and adding the lonely bees so that they could keep the beautiful new brood warm and have a queen to worship (or boss around.)  The NUC with the bees from the second swarm capture had 3 full frames of bees last weekend and the queen was busy searching cells.  There wasn’t any capped brood last weekend, and I have a hard time seeing eggs with my bi-focals and the veil, but she’s healthy and active so we expect to see something when we do our next check.

We also have three batches of bees in the queen castle that had hatched queen cells last weekend, but we didn’t see the queens.  It was a beautiful day, so they may have been out mating.  I so much want to go look, but it’s not warm enough yet.

Hubby will check the farm hives tomorrow, weather permitting.  He’s helping his brother with some projects today while I’m stuck here with a crate full of essays to grade!   So much of what I planted in fall is coming up right now that I really want to go to the farm every weekend, but sometimes we just have to stay home and get chores done!

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