Larvae and Pollen and Hive Beetles, oh my!

A bit of delay in posting my findings from the hive opening last Thursday, but the subject does a surprising job covering it.

I was still unable to see the queen in either hive, so I’m thinking about asking a more experienced beekeeper to come open them with me next week, and maybe show what I’m missing.

While I otherwise would have fretted over not seeing the Blue Queen again, there were three frames, front and back, filled with brood in a number of stages (eggs, larvae, capped). They seem to be focused on the upper super for their brood, as well as pollen and sugar-water storage.

There were three supersedure cells this time, in three different locations, rather than just the one. I’m going to trust that the bees know what they’re doing, and let the queen take care of the competition as needed, or let them take care of it themselves. There’s plenty of room in the hive so as not to suggest a swarm situation, but I’ll continue paying attention for other signs of that.

In comparing the two hives, despite my early assumptions I feel like the Silvers may in fact be the healthier of the two. Their storage patterns were much more organized, and their queen has clearly been busy since her release– plenty of larvae at multiple stages, and less sugar-water storage than I anticipated. They also had about three frames mostly dedicated to brood.

They were also much more adept at the propolis-production and sealing of their hive boxes. I felt guilty for breaking in, especially since I didn’t get to spend as much time checking each frame as I did with the Blue hive.

It’s in the Silver hive that I first saw evidence of hive beetles. These are pests that you can expect in any and every colony, but a strong colony is the best defense against their destruction. I’ve only seen evidence of two in the Silver hive (and the first one I crushed mercilessly), but the bees seem to be keeping things in check. I’ll keep an eye on that, however, and may end up buying some beetle traps.

Sat on this post over the holiday weekend, but will go ahead and send it out now, and post about yesterday’s hive activity in a little while. Will be opening the hives again on Saturday for a proper look-through.

Bustle and Bother, part 2

Early evening, and the hives have settled again, about dozen coming and going from each. I’m never going to stop worrying about them, I think, fretting that I haven’t paid enough attention or done the right thing at the right time. Bees are, of course, incredibly self-sustaining- and if I don’t take care of them, well, they’d just as soon take off and do their own thing, which is a comfort.

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Lawn Maintenance

I got a text from my roommate yesterday:

Did you leave a note informing our yard ppl that there are bees in the backyard?

Haha, whoops. In my defense, I didn’t know when they come, or even if they did the backyard. They do, it turns out, but there seems to have been no problem. The beeyard is clearly sectioned off with plenty of space around the hives, and they didn’t attempt the grass within, thankfully.

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I Think It’s Safe To Call Them Pets

When the first thing you do upon entering the house at 1am, after five days’ absence, is to drop your bags and go check on them, I suppose the term pets serves just as well as anything. I mean, I’m a cat person already, it’s not like I need the animals I keep company with to express their need to have me around or, indeed, acknowledge my presence.

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Airport Reading

I know, I know, there’s nothing I can do until next week to ascertain the Blue Queen’s survival or, if necessary, replacement. But I’m still fretting over the emergency supercedure cell, and will continue to do so. If the queen is not present, I must remain watchful for signs of nosema (what amounts to a fatal digestive infection that can spread through the hive). Lemongrass oil, an appetite stimulant, may also be a good idea.

Does it make sense to be jealous that bees get stomach infections that can be treated by eating more? Well, no. Does understanding it’s nonsense make me less jealous? Not a whit.

Just keeping notes to myself here, before I forget. That is all.

Early Morning Rituals

I’m leaving town this afternoon, and though I’ve arranged to have my roommate refill the feeders as needed I still went out to check on the bees before leaving. They seem to be working through the feed a bit slower than the first batch, which is just fine– all the pollen sacs I saw marching around the comb yesterday let me know the foragers are out doing their jobs, and the sugar-water’s moving to a supplementary role.

I absolutely treasure the fact that I’m keeping them in my backyard. I love being able to wander out around the beeyard at all hours, just to look. I don’t bother with the bee-suit when I go for these little checks, I just wander right up to and around the gate and they pay me no mind. The other night, during the first storm since getting them here, I went out well after dark to see how the rain sounded on the roofs of the hives. I thought that there might be a discernible patter, given the metal sheeting of the telescoping covers, but there wasn’t. It didn’t disappoint me, though– it is always nice to be out there, even for a few minutes.

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