Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Double the Hives

With the center hive (most likely) having cast a swarm, we split the remaining hives (the three on the left are the new hives).

The first hive (on the right in the photo) had several queen cells, and loads of drones! I think the queen must have been rolled or squished at some point with how much drone comb is in this hive. I still have a hard time spotting queens, so I'll have to go over every inch on Friday or Saturday when I check the splits for fresh queen cells.

The middle hive is light on bees, but heavy on bridge comb. I have an adapter between the two layers and the bees have filled the gap with comb. They are starting to work the lower hive body (8-frame medium), but in the future, I'll probably just use a medium nuc until they're ready to expand into a larger box, then switch altogether.

This is my first time splitting hives. I pulled four frames for each nuc (said /nuke/, short for nucleus hive), aiming to have a frame of nectar and/or honey and one or two of emerging brood to care for the new queen and make lots of wax for her to lay in once she's bred. I'm using mostly mediums, so I added a second five-frame hive body right away, and chose to feed them. Even with a bit of grass in the doorways to encourage the older bees to stay, most of them will probably return to their old hives when they go to work the fields.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Way up there, maybe 50 or so feet from the ground, they landed. We had watched as they rose in a cyclone of wings ascending from the hive, then flew. I ran outside, searching, as I rounded the bee yard, I cupped my hands behind my ear to trace the sound better. And there they be! We tried what we had available, but the ladder was too short, no pole could reach, the tree frail - each smaller branch snapping easily in my grasp. How would it hold me up to climb another thirty feet? I gave up, defeated. 

We went in to play a game. I wandered out between turns, pondering. At one point, I thought the garden had too many bees flying over it, but I wasn't at liberty to check at the time. I finally ventured to get another tool from the shop and saw it.

A cluster of bees working their way into the hive. Upon inspection, there were dead bees on the ground. The swarm had decided to take over the garden hive. I hazard the guess that this hive may also have swarmed and the weakened condition left them an easy mark for the larger group of bees. They all filed in by nightfall.

Lawn Workers

I've seen lawn crews working to sculpt a perfect lawn everywhere I've lived. My boys aren't the fastest, nor do they strive for that perfectly even turf. But, I appreciate the efforts, and they get paid in food. They do even better in the forested areas!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Grass flowers

Most people have heard of hay fever. It's that sneezy reaction some people get to grass pollen. We're in the height of the season right now. My oldest can hardly go outside without misery, and he's my best farmhand!

One thing that was difficult to see where we used to live is the variety of flowers that grasses have. The beauty of living in a wilder place!

We had a wet spring, so everything is in bloom. The bees are happy, but those like my oldest son will be miserable for a few more weeks.