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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Positive Thinking!

Last night we checked on the new queen and were pumped to see that the colony was minutes away from freeing her from her queen cage. Great news! The colony has accepted her now they’re ready to rock n roll.

We did not open the hives that have the queen cells. We were hoping they’re doing well and appreciative of our decision to not bother them.

Pig, the Wonder Cat, giving good vibes the night of the neck sting.

And then today we got a call – – a sighting of a ‘whole bunch of bees’ flying around in the vicinity of our hives.  Our first thought was it’s the swarm that left with the  old queen. But (!) then we remembered that a newly emerged queen needs to take a mating flight before she settles into the colony and starts laying eggs.

We’ve decided to NOT lament about the possibility of it being our swarm – as that’s about a hundred bucks of bees wandering around. Never mind that it’s highly unlikely we’d be able to catch them. And besides, now all our equipment is full now so we don’t have a place to put them… Instead, we’re employing the power of positive thinking and have decided it was a rare glimpse of a mating flight.

Who knew beekeeping is so complicated?    *sigh*


It’s Not All Fun & Games When Someone Gets Stung in the Neck

Saying that we are idiots when it comes to this beekeeping thing is like saying Warrem Buffett is pretty decent at managing money.

Our plan was to split our current hive into two, and buy a nuc to start a third. A nuc is basically a small hive – a queen with five frames of honey and pollen, and brood (developing bees), instead of the usual ten.

Ole, Thor & Lena, left to right.

Ole, Thor & Lena, left to right.

The new queen came in Friday night, so we could split our current into two, keeping the old queen with one half, and introducing the new queen into the other half. When we opened the hive boxes to begin dividing, we quickly figured out that the old queen was already gone. There were over a dozen queen cells in development.  Now what do we do? Aye. What do we do with the new queen?

We slept on it for the night, and this morning we went to the Central Iowa Beekeepers annual auction in Perry. There, we talked it over with others who have more experience than us.  Oh, and we got a couple bargains at the auction.  😉

So, here’s what we finally decided to do:

  • We divided our hive into two, putting frames with queen cells into one hive body, with other frames of pollen and honey. We’re letting nature take it’s course, and the colony will rear it’s own new queen. Hopefully.
  •  We put other frames with queen cells into a nuc. Again, we’re letting nature take its course, letting those bees raise their own queen. Once they’re ‘queenright’, we’ll put them in the third full hive we have ready and waiting. Hopefully.
  • We put the new queen in a hive body with frames of bees that do not have any developing queen cells.  They should accept her as their queen and that colony should take off. Hopefully.
The Sting, 20 minutes after impact.

The Sting, 20 minutes after impact.

Oh, and a little present from the bees to Robin was a sting on the neck Friday night. A couple snuck in up in the veil and one made her presence known. The good news is that all the allergy tests Robin went through a month ago indicated that she’s not allergic to beestings, but instead, especially sensitive to stings. The bad news is that Robin appears to have a goiter on her neck. Yay.

The Sting, 22 hours after impact.

The Sting, 22 hours after impact.

Now that we have three hives out there, we decided to name them, so that our bee discussions don’t resemble who’s-on-first monologues. Lena is what is left of the original colony. Ole is the new colony. And finally, the little nuc is Thor, short for Thorogood. We’ve decided to name whole colonies instead of naming the queens, since those biatches keep walking out on us.

Time Flies When It’s 85 Degrees in March…

Yikes! We’ve been busy!

We made it out to check on the girls tonight. We were probably overdue on getting out there and switching the bottom and top hive bodies. Bees like to work in the ‘penthouse,’ as in, they tend to be clustered as high in the hive body boxes as possible. So there they are, all smashed in the top of the two hive body boxes, looking down their bee-noses at the more-empty hive body below them. We’ve had a tremendous overwintering population, and they are busting at the seems. So, we flipped the boxes around to force them to fill out the lower box. But wow – we found lots and lots and lots of bees in both boxes. We are very proud bee parents right now.

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to bring a Des Moines Register reporter to the Dept of Ag’s hives for a photo op. An hour later Rodney White had gathered what seemed like thousands of photos and even video. The video is posted at Fun stuff! I guess I’ve figured out that I’m never going to make a million dollars as a model, since they’ll only take a picture of me if I have a big bee veil covering my face…

As I type this I’m listening to State Apiarist Andy Joseph (he works at the Iowa Dept of Ag) be interviewed on the April 11 Fallon Forum show, based in Des Moines. He’s doing a great job explaining the intricacies of the issues around the bee issues. He starts about 4 minutes into the recording, and that section runs about 30 minutes,