Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Bees, 5 weeks

Yesterday I had two long time friends come over and help me with a bee inspection. Jan has been keeping bees for 4 years I think and David has been keeping bees for a few years I believe. The three of us smoked the hive and sorted through the frames. The bees were pretty docile considering the 90+ degree heat, David got the only bee sting.

We searched with three pairs of eyes looking for the queen and did not find her. The photos I took revealed the queen on my second pass of examining the photo. She is the long bee in the photo above. This the first time I have seen her since she was released in the hive with the package 5 weeks ago.

We also looked for newly hatched brood, Jan thought in a week I should have plenty.  The photo above revealing these two gray fuzzy bees in the center and top left that are in fact some of my first babies!! Looking though all the photos I did see 5 cells that had been exited by new bees. I did not note any drone brood, please let me know if you see any in these photos. They do not need drone brood right now if I am correct.
This worker bee was in this honey cell at the top of the hive. I though she might have been killed when we opened the hive, but she moved when I touched her. Covered in honey or syrup maybe she is OK?
Jan tells me this is a moth cocoon , we found one on the front and another on a back of the hive under the cover. These were the only pests found in the hive thus far, crossing our fingers. I looked long and hard at the photos and saw no mites or beetles!
This frame had lots of capped honey (the white cells on the top left and center). I was told I need to add horizontal wire to these frames for more support when we spin honey out of them. The honey we have right now would likely not be very tasty because it is mostly from the sugar syrup we are feeding the bees. A colony of bees needs about 100 pounds of honey the get them through winter. So no honey harvesting this year.
Another frame of honey and the bees drawing out the wax comb.
This was the most impressive frame we took out to inspect. It weighed maybe 10 pounds alone, both sides looked like this.
Another good frame with lots of capped brood and honey at the top. Honey was dripping from Jan's gloves!
Here we have lots of larva being tended by nursery bees. These cells will be capped pretty soon.
Both Jan and David agreed we have a hive that is doing very well. I plan on adding another brood box next week. They also though our location was ideal with lots of water and nectar sources. We estimated the hive likely has 20 pounds of honey in it right now.

My big Vitex tree is in full bloom and we estimated seeing at least 75 bumble bees in it, not sure if the honey bees are using it or not. Neither of my friends had seen so many bumble bees in one place, it was impressive.


FlowerLady said...

Congrats on your healthy bee hive. This is exciting. I have a baby vitex grown from seed, maybe about 18" tall. I look forward to seeing it in bloom. Bees love our hamelia paten bush and are all over it every morning. It sounds like a humming factory.


Mary C. said...

Wow, that is so cool! thank you for sharing

*dreaming of the day I have a property big enough for a hive...*

greggo said...


NotSoAngryRedHead said...

It's so nice to see your hive doing well. There's been a major drop in bee population that I've noticed this year, but I've been seeing a few more bees recently although it might be because of my purple heart and bog pots - the bees like to sip water off the soil. My hat's off to you!

Kim and Victoria said...

Great, and interesting pics! Fascinating, really.

sweetbay said...

That is a lot of bees!

I've noticed that bees really love Vitex.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

Those are great pictures. It's so interesting to see what is actually going on inside a hive.
I finally saw a couple of honey bees here yesterday when it got warm.

Karen said...

I'm glad to see your hive is doing well. We have had another spring with hardly any honeybees to pollinate our apple trees, so very few apples this year once again.

It's amazing to see into a hive and witness all the activity and organization.

Appalachian Lady said...

Your colony looks like it's doing very well--lots of brood and a healthy looking queen. I am impressed you can find the queen since she isn't marked. I can't seem to do that.

Carol said...

It is fascinating to see how your hive is thriving Randy. They seem so docile too . . . were they smoked before your photos? Great shots! Thanks so for the Dragonfly identification!

Andrea said...

Hi Randy and Meg, congratulations on your healthy bees. In this part of the world we love the taste of honey derived from coconuts and coffee. I actually miss it. Have i told you when i was a kid i went with my father getting hives from the wild, piles of rocks and i had lots of sting even if we had it smoked.

Shady Gardener said...

That's amazing, Randy! I cannot believe you're really doing this!! (Actually, I believe it... it's just way beyond anything I could do!)

Congratulations. You will be enjoying the benefits of wonderful honey before long. :-)

Birds, Bees, Berries, and Blooms said...

You got some great photos! Bees are just amazing. I know I sure enjoy mine. What amazed me is the honey tastes different depending on what they were pollinating at the time. I'm glad the hives are thriving. I know you had trouble to begin with. Looks like things have settled down and are moving forward. I can't remember if I thanked you for identifying my moth. I had a feeling you would know what it was. Thanks.

Rosey said...

My Dad used to do bee keeping when I was little. Funny thing,my mom just gave me a jar of honey from 1979 and it is still good. I just had to heat it on the stove in water.
That is a good investment and hobby you are learning.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Looks like your hive is off to a great start! I hope the Varroa populations will stay down for you this year while the colony gets established. We have the problem here that our bees tend to produce at least some brood all year, so we get few natural breaks in the mite cycle. So far though, it's all looking good!