Friday, April 30, 2010

Step Five: Setting Up Mating Nucs

On Wednesday, ten days after grafting queen cells, I created 7 mating nucs: five in cardboard 'nuc' boxes, and 2 in a "queen castle". Following the instructions found in Lawrence Connor's book, Increase Essentials, I placed one frame of capped brood (with adhering bees), one frame of honey/pollen, and two empty drawn frames in each 'nuc'. I carefully  pressed one ripe queen cell into each frame of capped brood and shook in some "extra bees" as well. I closed up each hive and will check them again in two weeks. Hopefully, each nucleus hive will have a mated queen  by then.

Of course, this process was not without disaster. In the middle of making up one nuc hive, I tipped over the box and stirred up alot of trouble. I don't dress in a full bee suit and paid the price of that decision with 15 stings, mostly to my stomach and wrists. Yes, it hurt for a bit, but I really had no swelling, or any other ill effects from the experience.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Delayed Inspection

This last weekend was cold and rainy, so I was unable to inspect any of the hives. Monday afternoon was better, although it was still partially cloudy and fairly cool (mid 60s).

First, I opened up Lib-BEE-taria for inspection. All things looked good. There was plenty of capped honey, pollen and  brood in all levels of development. I even found the queen in the top box. I did a full reversal of the hive, along with cleaning up the bottom board. I put a queen excluder on and one honey super above this.

Second, I opened up Metpropolis, one of  the top bar hives. I had been concerned about this hive after the last inspection and am now a little less worried. Yes, the population of the workers in this hive is less than the other 4, but this time I found evidence of the queen laying in a nice solid pattern. I moved some capped honey closer to the cluster. This hive should do fine but it still bares watching.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Step Four: Capped Queen Cells

It is the fifth day since I grafted larvae into plastic queen cups. This afternoon, I went out to check to see if the grafts  took and the cells were capped. As you can see in the second photo below, all but one graft was accepted by the bees.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mushrooms on the Haybale

We plan to use old haybales as planters this year, and, as if the bales wanted to assure us of their productivity, we already noted the growth of mushrooms on one of the bales sitting near the pond in Beelandia.

First Full Inspection of "Plan Bee"

I did my first full inspection of Plan Bee... this afternoon. This top bar hive was the one invaded by mice and so I felt it needed an early, complete look-see. In all, the hive is quite healthy with plenty of larvae in all stages of growth throughout the 15 or so bars. There were places where the mice had done damage, but nothing the bees can't fix. I did see the queen as well in all her regal splendor. I added two bars between the broodnest and the honey storage area to allow the bees more space to build. This was the hive that swarmed last July so I am hoping to monitor crowding a bit better.

Step Three: Grafting Larvae

Today I grafted larvae from a frame found in the Worker Bees... hive. The queen in this hive came from a queen cell I brought back from my queen rearing course last summer at the University of Minnesota. After grafting, I placed the frame in the top box of Bee Glad... which I made queenless yesterday by inserting the slide into the Cloak Board. Hopefully, the queenless young workers will start raising a few queens.

Step Two: Sliding

Yesterday was step two in my great Cloake Board experiment. I removed the frames of open brood from the top box and inserted the slide between the top box and the middle box. I also opened the bottom entrance. The top box is now queenless and filled with young nurse bees; already for the grafts I will make from larvae in the Worker Bees... hive.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Step One In Cloake Board Manipulation

Yesterday, I began setting up Bee Glad... for use in queen rearing. I am following the methods outlined by Susan Cobey in an article available on the internet. I did the following things:

1. Confined the queen to the boxes below the queen excluder on the Cloake board.

2. In the box above the excluder, I placed:

a. a couple of frames of open brood.
b. frames of nectar/pollen near where the grafts will be placed.
c. a frame of open foundation.
d. I also inserted the queen cell frame (with plastic cups included) so that the bees would clean these up before I graft.

3. Pivoted the bottom entrance 180 degrees and closed it off. The top entrance above the queen excluder on the Cloake board is now the only entrance open and it faces the direction (south) the original entrance did.

I will let the hive sit and let the bees settle a bit.

This whole process cost me three stings to the head. Somehow, A number of bees got into my veil while doing this and I suffered the consequences.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Drones Are Flying!

Drones have begun to fly out of Beelandia during the day. I will take this as an indication that my queen rearing project can begin. On Friday, I will turn the bottom entrance of Bee Glad... around 180 degrees, move the queen to the two bottom boxes, place a Cloake Board between the second and top boxes, and move frames of open brood into the top box. This weekend, the process of grafting from the Worker Bees hive will begin in earnest.

I plan simply to walk-away splits to the top bar hives when and if queen cells appear in either hive.

For more information on queen rearing, check out the following books:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hive Victorious

In a routine examination of Plan Bee..., a top bar hive, I discovered the Bee Bait the mouse at the bottom of the hive dead. Plan Bee... has disposed of its invading enemy and Beelandia is safe again!

Partial Reverses and Concerns

Yesterday afternoon, I spent some time in Beelandia doing some necessary bee chores. I did partial reverses on both Lib-BEE-taria and Bee Glad... and all went well there.

I opened up Metpropolis, the top bar hive, and left a bit concerned. I knew it was a weaker hive but I hadn't suspected just how weak it is. I found the queen, but only a small cluster of workers with her. Also, the queen seems to be doing little or no egg-laying. I found a few capped drone cells, very few capped worker cells, and no open brood. The workers had built one or two queen cells. I think this hive is doomed, but I will watch.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Photos of Worker Bees of The World Unite

Bee Glad... for the Hive is Packed With Workers

Thursday was a beautiful, almost summer-like day in Winona with temperatures in the high 70s F. I couldn't pass up this day without looking into the hive that seems jam-packed with bees: Bee Glad...

I knew this hive was thriving but I wasn't aware of just how well it was doing. It already has three box filled with bees though most of the egg-laying is going on in the top two. The top box was heavy with honey as well. (Where the bees got this I don't know!) I did do a partial reverse, placed another pollen patty on top of the brood nest and closed it up. I have definitely decided that this colony will serve as my cell builder and finisher when I begin queen rearing with my Cloake Board in a few weeks.