This picture is of a couple of the students checking the queen cage for a healthy queen and preparing for their first hands on experience installing a package of bees into the hive.
Its been a week now since we established 9 new bee hives from 2 pound packages purchased at Glory Bee in Eugene. One of those packages contained a dead queen and arrangements were quickly made to secure a replacement. Though its never happened to me before, it is possible to acquire a new package of bees that contains a dead queen. One of the first things you need to do when installing a package into a hive is retrieve the queen cage from the package and check to make sure the queen is ok. Most businesses that sell bees will guarantee a healthy queen and we were able to obtain a replacement with no problem.
What does one do with a package of bees that has a dead queen you might ask? Knowing the queen would still retain some pheromone scent, I placed the cage inside the hive and proceeded to install the bees, hoping the dead queens scent would be strong enough to keep the bees around. This seemed to work fairly well, although it has been noted the hive next to it has a lot of bees in it. Most likely the stronger pheromone of the healthy queen in that new hive drew in some of the bees from the dead queen hive.
The replacement queen was placed into the hive on Monday and today my protégé’s in Colton will have a look to see that she has been released from the queen cage. If so, then all the new hives will be off and running. Other than to check the hive top feeder occasionally to make sure feed is available, these new hives will be left alone for another week or two and allow the bees to get settle in.
There is one other queen story waiting to be told. I have a queen in an existing hive that is not laying well – certainly not keeping up with the other hives that made it through the winter. So when I picked up the packages of bees I also obtained a new queen to replace the old lagging queen. A couple days ago I inspected the queen cage and this queen too has been released, however, the bees were not bee-having as if there is a queen in the hive. This is just a feeling, but I closed up the hive to allow then to settle in anyway. In another week I will look to see if there are any eggs or larva. If not, I will have to decide if the old queen can still get the job done and then return her to the hive or if I need to order a new queen. The old queen was placed in another hive (a nuc box) in hopes that the change of environment would prompt her to get with the program. I will follow up on this developing story next week.
With the new hives established and getting settled in, its time to focus on the four hives that wintered. Today is expected to bee about 60 degrees and calm, a perfect day to inspect bee hives. Its been a couple weeks since I looked at them and things have really come into bloom this last week or so. I’m hoping to see some great progress in the hives that wintered and will be looking to find the healthiest hives that I can use for splitting in the first few days of May. I will be trying out a new approach to splitting hives this season and you will certainly want to stay tuned for that.
Next, I want to take a moment to talk about the food we eat. There was a wonderful fella at the class who brought his son (seen in the picture above) with him to learn about bees. They would really like to have a couple hives but he asked me about the blueberry field that is just a couple hundred yards away from his place. I asked if they spray when the plants are blooming and he said “Oh yes, they spray all the time, even just before the fruit is picked.” Well, I knew blueberries were one of the most sprayed fruits you can buy but I was not aware of the timing of the sprays. Unfortunately I had to tell him it would be likely his bees would suffer from all the sprays being applied to the blueberries.
These are things for all of us to think about. Its so easy to assume the food we eat is safe, but is it really? Gluten intolerance, and a multitude of other various stomach ailments – these are recent issues that didn’t used to exist in the numbers we are experiencing today. It’s not a coincidence.
Soy and corn – two foods that are found in literally everything we eat – are nearly 100 percent GMO produced crops these days and more and more wheat is coming from GMO crops too. I believe the discussion about GMO’s has completely missed the point, as both sides discuss whether genetically modified food is healthy to eat or not. This is not the issue! These plants are engineered to be able to absorb the chemicals they are hosed with, without harming the plant. So the plant stays healthy, but the chemicals they absorb go right into the food that is produced. Do you really want to eat food from a plant that can absorb and withstand roundup and neonicatinoid pesticides?????? Its not a mystery why we have so many new gut ailments that didn’t exist or were considered extremely rare when I was a child fifty years ago.
Just like I have stated in my past postings here about honey, get to know the people who produce your food and find out about the practices they employ when growing it. Support your local organic farmers! Its good for the bees and its far better for you! And if you need to find a good source for healthy food, check out Azure Standard. The link is below.
Until next time, eat healthy and support your local chemical free beekeep.