An Afternoon With My Girls – All 250,000 to 300,000 of Them

Finally, a sweet and sunny 62 degree day where wearing the bee gear wasn’t going to cook me. Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my girls to learn about how they’re doing and what they’re up to.

I stopped by the Purple Robe Locust tree on my way to the bee yard to taste the scent of its flowers. The tree is in full bloom and high up in the tree the blooms look like dangling bunches of grapes. http://www.pbase.com/image/67406066

In the bee yard I sat and watched for a while before getting underway. If you walk through our garden you will see the raspberries are in bloom and the bees love them, so a lot of bees were leaving the hives and flying out directly over my head to the raspberry patch. However, quite a number of bees were going the opposite direction to the west, out over the parched open field that is directly behind us. They were also flying south which is towards some irrigated pasture. I pictured mounting a miniature camera on these little gals so I could see what they see. What were they finding out there? Obviously it was worth the trip as they don’t fly any further than they need to, but if something they like is in bloom they don’t miss it either.

So I’m sitting there in the middle of the bee yard watching them come in with their little packages of pollen and nectar, and remembering that over the course of their life time, each bee will contribute one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey to the hive. Twelve bees for a teaspoon of honey. Amazing little creatures but it brings to mind why I’m sitting in the midst of a few hundred thousand.

The bees from the hive begun with a “split” from another hive earlier in the year were anxiously inviting me in to show me what they’ve been up to so I suited up and went inside. This hive is so mellow I really hope they make it through this winter as I would love to have more of them. It’s been two weeks since I added the second “super” and they have already drawn out comb on three to four frames. That’s good progress. I also noted the mite count on the floor of the hive. It’s high so we will see how they do. Hopefully they have what it takes to deal with these pests.

The next two hives are the “Carny’s.” Also very calm, these hives are progressing well. One of them has most the frames in the second super drawn out in comb and have even begun to store honey. They must get their own winter supply stored away before I get any so I’m excited to see them making progress.

Hive 3, the first of the two “Italian” hives has drawn comb on six frames in the second super and added some brood. (baby bees that will hatch soon) A third super will be needed here soon.

Hive four – the hive I requeened with a more mite resistant queen (supposedly) has really gotten into gear and is ready for its second super. The first couple frames had nothing on them, but the rest of the frames are nearly full of brood. This hive is about to explode. In fact I found the queen near the edge of the hive, out on frame 9. A second super is required here and I will add that in a couple days.

The last hive is the only one I have that survived last winter. It has a lot of drone comb, which is a sign a hive is getting ready to swarm, but the hive also has lots of room. Since they are not crowded I’m hoping they don’t swarm.

The bees finished winter in the second super and have moved down into the bottom super and filled it with brood. TONS OF BROOD! This hive is going to really pop soon. I already have a super third super on top, so they have lots of room to expand as they are just now getting started drawing out comb on it.

An interesting thing about this last hive. I bot it last year and the bees in it are supposed to bee from a gene pool that helps them fight back against mites. The mites like to lay their eggs in drone cells (they do so before the cell is capped) because the cell and larvae are bigger. Removing one of the frames I have broken open four drone cells. It was a good chance to look for mites. The larvae is white and the black mites contrast very well and are easy to see. Upon inspecting the four drone larvae I found zero mites. It’s a small sample, but based on my limited experience, if there was a high mite count in this hive I would have found mites on these larvae. So these girls are in fine shape at this point.

All in all my time in the bee yard went to quickly. Stayed so long my smoker ran out of smoke, but then I rarely used it. The hives are all looking good, each in a slightly different stage of progress, but all moving in the right direction with thousands upon thousands of more girls to soon be born the this daddy beek. I’ll be a proud papa. Until my next update, check out the pictures I’ve linked below.

Zombees – http://zombiepictures.blogspot.com/2009/08/best-zombie-wallpapers.html

Honeybees – scroll down a bit to see larvae and eggs – http://www.honeybeesuite.com/honey-bee-eggs-in-the-brood-nest/

Brood – http://s149.photobucket.com/user/Dee_0216/media/Honey%20Bees/Honeybee%20pics/Hive-5.jpg.html

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