Saturday, August 8, 2009

humming honey-beezez pleasez meezez

i was out making the daily late afternoon delivery of a bunbun's personal air cooling system - a frozen gallon jug of water when i noticed an unusually high number of beez buzzing around one of the hives.

it looked like a house hunting party to me - not good! so i quickly headed into the garage - prepped the smoker - got myself suited up - picked up two of my bee feeding patties and a ready to go super loaded with frames. i knew i was racing against time.

i had to give the bees a darn good reason to stay - already i was praying that the queen was still in the hive - i felt good because i knew from my morning visits and outdoor work that the big flight action could not have been going on for very long.

best too if i could identify why they were thinking about swarming. possible reasons could be
  • queen has died or been killed or has fled
  • hunger
  • overcrowding - lack of cells available for the queen to lay in
thus my arriving with
  • a framed up super - more space
  • bee feed patties - this round with sugar, pollen substitute and fat
  • if the queen had died i'd have to check for queen cells and/or pursue other tactics
upon opening the hive i found two things - the top feeder empty and the frames inside both currently stacked supers full nearly to the gills. the good news is that i spotted the queen - i think i can fix this. i proceeded to remove the top super and set it aside. i then pulled three frames in the lower super then replaced them with a new empty frames setting them in a full frame, empty frame, full frame empty frame fashion. this every other layout allows the queen space to lay and room for the bees to move about.

i then placed the second super back on top of the first and pulled out three full frames and replaced those with empty frames just as i had in the first super. i then placed the third super on top. the third super now had 6 full frames and 2 empty frame inside. this would assure that the bees work all three supers. it also assures that the top super transferred not only frames but brood and nurse bees with them - a healthy mix of folk.

i then placed two of the feed patties on top of the top super - set a spacer frame on top then set the top cover over all. fingers crossed - this will satisfy their needs. the whole process took a little over 25 minutes to complete. it felt longer - but the watch proved otherwise.i had an audience. several neighborhood folk were out on their daily walk when they spotted me - the state puff marshmallow woman - working the hives out back and stopped in to watch. i did not mind a bit and they were thrilled simply to be in witness.

i explained what i was doing with each step - pointed out the difference between a super full of honey and super full of brood. i talked to them about the effects of this current drought relative to bee forage and feeding. i then discussed the different types of bees in the hive and talked a bit about what i was seeing as i looked around. there were several bees that did have pollen filled leg pockets which signals that they are collecting pollen from somewhere near by which is great as they use it as a protein source. the number of frames full of brood was promising. in fact i think this might be a hive i split in the spring - really healthy and growing in population at an excellent rate. overall the bees were fantastic - incredibly docile and a pleasure to work with - it was nice.

"you ought to hold workshops - get other folk interested in raising bees" they said. not a bad idea. then i thought - privately in my mind - that i could ask neighbors if they would allow me to raise bees on their land and/or yards in exchange for honey and/or workshops around the subject of bees including
  • the benefits of raising bees
  • how to start a hive bees
  • seasonal upkeep (of which i am still learning myself)
  • plants and trees beneficial to bees
  • health of a hive
  • processing of honey
  • processing of bees wax
i am seriously considering this. i've got until late october 2009 to figure it a good or not yet move. it is not until then that i could pre-order packaged bees from my supplier. could be a real cool thing. benefiting not only the honey eating gardening human peeps but for texas bees too. the whole fix would not go into action until april of 2010 which is when the bees are ready for pick up.

hmm i mean hmmzzzzzzzzz

i then popped into the second hive deducing a theory that may or may not have anything to do with reality. the frames in hive one all have bee's wax foundation while the frames in hive two have the "fancy pants" plastic frames. hive two is much smaller and growing at a noticeably slower rate than hive one. my theory is that the plastic frames are not pleasing to the hive two bees.

some beekeepers like the plastic frames some do not - in reality - some beekeeper's bees like wood frames with plastic foundation and some do not - i think mine do not - my theory is that the bees in hive two despise the stuff and thus are growing and producing slower. so i plan to replace those plastic foundation filled frames yet untouched with a fresh wax foundation this very afternoon.

in other news

- i have removed miss lavender and miss blue from the big girl coop - the big sisters had taken a disappointing turn to picking on the two younger laides more frequently which is not good. i thought better to allow it to go on. better to remove the ladies until further grown or maybe these girls will forever be a part of a different flock - time will tell. the good news is that the girls now enjoy a space of their own - a feeder and waterer of their own and no chance of being pecked on my meaniepants older sisters.

do what is right for the creatures - always...


Carm and Jay said...

The bee story read like an action adventure! I'm glad you got to them in time and the queen is still there. Someday you have to tell me how you even know which one the queen is!

shellywoman said...

my queens are marked. they have a little white spot on their backs. they are also noticeably larger than all other bees in the hive.