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Monthly Archives: June 2013

June is Looking Up!

Okay! We have some catching up to do!

May was a busy month. A week apart, for three weeks, we trekked out to the bees and applied a drench of 1:1 sugar syrup + Honey-Bee-Health + Nozevit. Why? Because we’re trying to pep the bees up and pull them out of the nosema downward spiral. By the end of May the two remaining hives, Lena and Thor were looking pretty darn good. We even put supers on (the boxes that we harvest honey from) in late May.

In early May we went to the equipment action and bought two more hives. Two more! This is what happens when Mark lets Robin bid. We got them home, painted them (due to our obsessive-compulsive hive painting habit) and this last weekend, installed two ‘nucs’ in the new hives. Nucs are 5 frames of bees + brood (baby bees). Nucs are starter colonies on steroids, but with no steroids. 

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Two nucs on their way to their new homes. Note the jail-break bees getting out of the nuc on the right. *That’s not cool in the Jeep.*

Mark was MIA for this adventure, so it was solo-Robin racing against incoming rain and a herd of ticks trying to attack. This is why a leaky box of bees was transported in the Jeep because Mark had the truck. [insert stinkeye from irritated wife HERE] The new hives have been named Lars (in keeping with the Norwegian theme) and Lili Von Shtupp (of Blazing Saddles fame – that’s right – yah, we know when you read the name you actually read it in a very high pitch voice in your head, just like the movie).

And finally, we also started our own nuc form Lena. In early June we found queen cells in Lena – that is a bad sign in the spring. Lena was so crowded she was preparing to swarm, meaning a new queen would emerge and take half the bees and leave. Homo sapiens call ‘divorce’. = Half your sh*t disappears. To stop the ‘bee divorce’ we put the frames with queen cells in a small box, a nuc, where we’re letting queen-making-magic happen. Once a queen is situatied and laying eggs, we’ll move that burgeoning colony back into Ole and viola (!) we’ll be five full colonies. If our nuc-making goes well, that means we saved $130 by not having to buy one.  😮

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The newest additions to the family, Lili Von Shtupp and Lars.

 

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Aye, Aye, Aye, Ayyyyyyyyye.

(Obviously this is very late. Pretend this was posted around the beginning of April)

3:29:13 Ole

The last of the bees left in Ole, March 29.

We made it out to the bees on Friday, March 29, on a beautiful warm afternoon. Lena’s bees were buzzing around like gangbusters. Thor’s bees were also active. And Ole, well, Ole was not doing well. There appeared to be only a few dozen living bees in Ole. We knew that meant within a few days, it was all she wrote. There was still capped honey in the hive (food) but there was piles and piles of dead bees in the hive too.

A couple days later Mark returned to jar up any remaining bees so Andy, State Apiarist, could take a look. They were all ‘sleeping’ but he plucked a few non-degraded bees off the pile. When Andy looked at them with a microscope, he didn’t even bother to count the nosema spores, because they appeared to be loadddddddded. What is nosema? It’s a microsporidian fungus that essentially gives the bees ‘scours’. That’s pig-farmer-daughter talk for bee dysentery.

On Sunday, April 7, Robin made it back to the yard to sample Lena and Thor. It was another beautiful, warm afternoon. Lena’s bees, again, were buzzing around like crazy, and now, Thor was quiet. Aye! Turns out, Lena had burned through all the stored honey and was now starving. Andy looked at the Lena and Thor samples – very high nosema counts. 😦 We cooked up some syrup this afternoon and started feeding in earnest.

And then, we got out the credit card and ordered some ‘stuff’ to feed the bees to pep them up and hopefully pull through the nosema. For reasons too boring to list here, we’re not using the traditional treatment for nosema microsporidia. Fingers crossed and here we go with Honey-Bee-Healthly and Nozevit. Stay tuned for the results of ‘feeding the stuff’.

I have no idea how we would have been able to embark on this beekeeping adventure without Andy. He’s a life saver. And, I hope we’re doing something useful to save our bees.