It has been brought to my attention that I have not updated the blog since March 29th. Time sure does go by quickly....I knew it had been a while but did not realize it had been that long. So here is one update.
Brian got more bees. You know, because we don't have enough bees. Ha ha! We now have 5 total hives. Four of the traditional kind that you see sitting around and a new one called a Top Bar hive. But I need to back up a couple of weeks....
On April 17th we opened the hives to check everyone, and to add on another hive box called a Super. The super is the one that will be honey for us. This picture shows a wire grate looking thing on top of the frames in the hive. It is a Queen excluder, meaning the Queen is too big to fit thru it, so she can't go to the top level, the super, to lay eggs. She will do it below in the two bigger boxes.
Here is the difference now - the one on the left has not had the Super put on yet. The one on the right has and is ready for the bees to start making more honey. If we did not add the top box and the bees got too crowded, they might decide to 'swarm' and take off to a place with more room, so it is a win-win situation. We have added more room for them to do what bees do, and we will also get some honey this year for ourselves. Note: if the weather is bad and honey production is not that good, we will leave it for the bees to feed off of thru the winter.
We checked a few of the frames while we were changing things around, and they are doing very well. This frame shows a lot of 'brood', meaning bee babies.
This picture below is very cool if you make it bigger - you can see the larvae that will eventually turn into bees! When I was blowing up pictures to get a closer look I was so excited!
This is another neat picture. I am going to blow this up and print it....I want to take it to Brian's bee mentor to find out what all is going on here. When I blow it up I can see bee faces in the dark spots that are more towards the middle. We are thinking that the ones that are around the darker spots that look to be capped off are pollen that the bees feed from. On the left are shiny cells, and I don't know if that is nectar or honey. Like I said, when we were blowing up pictures we could see so much more and got all excited. The lives of bees are amazing...
This one here is pure honey in the making! When they fill the cells with honey they cap it off with wax, which you can see in the upper area of the frame. Once honey has filled the whole frame the entire thing will have that smooth layer of wax over the honey. To harvest it, some have heated knives and they gently cut off the layer of wax, then put the frame in an extractor to spin it to zing the honey out of the cells to the wall of the extractor, then down to the bottom to come out the spout.
The trip to Arts place is always an adventure. I have been out there to get supplies, but not to ever pick up bees. Everyone orders their bees by a certain date so all are delivered at the same time. But first things first....in a previous entry from last year I posted some pictures of emus at his place. Inside the store he had a container with ducklings - and a baby emu!!!! Oh my gosh, it is so cute! When I was trying to get a close picture of it, the ducklings came over to protect their friend. The emu chick is about 3 times as big as the ducklings but is younger than them. You know me....I am feeling the need to get an emu!
There is a greenhouse building attached to the store, and the bees for delivery were stacked up in the back by the back door. Each one of these boxes houses approx 10,000 bees.
Each hive needs a Queen to survive. You can either buy a Queen, or you can trust the hive to create another Queen. Here is a box of Queen bees. Our Queen is included in the box of bees, so no need to buy a Queen separately.
If the hive creates one, they just feed one of the egg cells Royal Jelly and poof - they have a Queen. Okay, not as simple as that but you get the idea....they can make a Queen.
This is cooler than heck! It is an observation hive INSIDE the store. To the bottom right there is a pipe that goes to the outside so the bees can come and go. I would love one of these in the house, but Brian isn't that warm to the idea yet. :-)
We got our 3 boxes of bees...time to take them home. We put them in the back of the truck and away we went...
See how all the bees seem to be 'hanging' in the center? This is a 'beard' and they are trying to get as close to the Queen as they can. In transit she is in her tiny box and lets out pheromones so they get to know her. If you try to put a Queen in the hive without keeping her separate first, odds are they will kill her....so she is introduced slowly. When we take the tiny Queen box out of the box, we put a small marshmallow in a hole which the other bees then eat through to free her. It gives them all enough time to get to know each other before she can get out of her little box.
A can like this is in each box of bees - it has sugar water in it to feed the bees in transit. To the right of the can is a small slice in the wood - that is where the little metal hanger is for the Queen and her box. We lift out the can and slide the Queen out, put the can back, place the Queen in the hive, then dump in bees.
Brian is dumping bees in one of the traditional hives...
After putting bees in both hives, we set up the boxes and the cans of leftover sugar water for the bees to feed off of. They will begin to take orientation flights to get their bearings, then will start foraging for food.
This is the Top Bar Hive. We are trying to take a more natural approach to bees and this is supposed to simulate a log. We are also letting the bees build their own comb instead of putting in the thin fake stuff to get them started. It will take longer but that is what they do...
We will start the bees in a smaller area in the center of the hive then make it bigger as they build their hive. It is a Top Bar hive - see the skinny boards on top of the hive? That is what the bees will build their comb on.
Brian took out the Queen and suspended her box in the center of the hive. On the bottom of the hive is a small baggie of raw honey for them to feed from. After we got the bees installed the bees had a beard hanging off the Queen box. She was letting off her pheromones and they were getting to know her. It was so neat!
Brian pouring the bees in the hive...
Bees after they are dumped in the hive. This was very different because they were all dumped into an open area, whereas the other hives have the frames so the bees can crawl around something.
Brian putting the bars on the top to shut in the bees...
This dandelion puff ball snuck into the blog...
Here is the really really cool thing! An observation window! We can watch the progress of the bees without disturbing them.
This is the view at the entrance of the hive. We put the box in the front so the remainder of the bees will go inside. Another cool fact - some bees will hang out at the entrance and flutter their wings to get the smell of the Queen to the other bees. When you make the picture bigger you will see a small metal thing on the bottom left part of the inside - this is the thing that will keep the Queen inside. Eventually this will come off, but right now it stays until she sets up house. If she would escape, the others would follower her.
Well, I just looked at the clock...and I am a little behind now. :-) Gotta run!
Will keep everyone posted on the bees...
Until later....Karen and Tripp who thinks the bees are neat OVER THERE!