Sunday, April 26, 2015

Long Live the Queens!

Another week has passed, the weather has yo-yoed back to warm & sunny, and the bees are out buzzing around. We went into the hives today to remove the pollen patties I placed due to the cold weather. Turns out the bees must not have needed them because they were barely touched. I decided to go glove-less today because I wasn't happy with the lack of dexterity last time. I felt clumsy and couldn't get a good grip on the frames. It went really well and I think I'll only use gloves for honey harvests.

We checked on the rest of the progress too. The bees in both hives are drawing out comb nicely on a few more frames. The blue triangle hive seems to be rejecting some of the base foundation on a frame. We’ll have to see how this goes, I've read a little about it and have a prospective fix. We may try that this week or the next weekend after seeing what they do with it. This hive is the  one who was way over to one side of the box last time as well. I placed another empty frame against the box wall today to push the cluster closer to the center where they should be. It seems to be working well.

Both hives had capped brood, larvae of various stages and more eggs. And guess what! We also found both of the queens! Long live the queens! We got a good picture of the yellow triangle queen but the blue triangle queen was moving a little too fast for A. to get a good picture of her.
See her? The queen is the bee with the long black abdomen just to the lower left of the center of the photo.
It was really exciting to see them moving around. I was surprised at how easy they were to see today but I think that’s partly because so many bees were out of the hive foraging and they are starting to spread out more in the box as they draw the comb out on more frames. Interesting tidbit: All the bees in the hives right now are still the original bees that came in the package. Not enough time has passed for any new bees to have hatched.

Ok, here’s a couple great pictures to see all the various stages.
Eggs and one bigger larva.
Larvae in various stages.

See the little white sprinkle looking things at the bottoms of the cells? Those are the eggs. The queen lays one egg in each cell. After three days, the eggs hatch into larvae; those are the white grub looking things in the cells. The bottom picture has varying stages of larvae. The newest ones look like little, white, “U” shaped  worms. The oldest larvae fill the entire cell. About six days after hatching the cells are capped. This photo also has capped cells. They are capped with white or yellowish wax. In another 12-14 days (12 for workers, 14 for drones) they will hatch and we’ll have our first new set of adult bees. Depending on when these cells were capped, we may be able to see some new bees on our next hive inspection. Can’t wait!
Guard bees checking out a forager coming back with pink pollen.

More fun things today, we noticed some of the bees were coming back with pretty bright pink pollen. A. quickly realized that these bees had been foraging on the abundant Spring Beauties in the woods. See the bright pink anthers? Very cool!

We also have a few chores to take care of this week where the feeders are concerned. The bees don’t seem to be taking the sugar syrup as fast as I anticipated so the syrup has gotten a bit cloudy and some spots of mold are growing in it. There still doesn't seem to be a lot of nectar producing flowers out yet so I’m hesitant to take the feeders away completely. We’re considering getting a third feeder so that we can replace one at a time and clean them out but we’ll need a faster fix than that for this week I think. Perhaps take the feeder off and replace with the inner cover then put a small pie plate with sugar syrup in it on top with an empty box around it. Things to think about. We may need to discuss this for a couple days. 

Here’s the rest of the pictures from today. I’m pretty pleased that the weather is supposed to be so nice this week, I think we may have finally turned the corner and things will start happening more quickly.

Taking the brick off the top. Time to get started!

Add a little smoke.

Removing the hive-top feeder.

One little chew hole in this patty.

Sugar syrup in the cells.

Long live the queen!

Some eggs in the bottom of these cells.

Photo bombed by the queen, She's making her exit on the left.

Large larvae and capped brood.

Frame of bees.

Working on drawing out comb.

Happy beekeeper!

Smoking to get the bees down in the frames.

In the lower right corner of the photo, see how the cells look wet? That's stored sugar syrup.

More brood, capped and uncapped as well as some pollen and sugar syrup.

Rejecting the foundation. See the lobes on the left?

Close-up of the foundation rejection. This can also be considered bur comb.

Big pollen baskets coming in.

Get out of the way! I'm coming in for landing!

Good shot of two different color variations of the bees.

This grid is the mite board under the hive. The "crystal" flakes are wax flakes that fell off the bees.
The colored balls are pollen baskets that fell off and through the screen. Here you can see both yellow and pink pollen.

Close-up of yellow and pink pollen and the wax flakes.

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