Thursday, April 30, 2009

One week old and plans for hive #2

Well, the girls (and a few boys too) seem to be doing great. They have gone through about 5 lbs of honey already, so they are eating well. Hopefully I won't have to feed them much more, but we'll see what happens with the weather. They have definitely started to make honey comb, but I haven't really gotten into the hive yet to see how much. I was watching them earlier today, which was a cool cloudy day, and they were bringing in tons of pollen. You could see some of the bees struggling to land and enter the hive because they were carrying such heavy loads. The colors of the pollen ranged from "curry yellow" to maroon to silvery yellow to bright orange. Here are some gratuitous pollen shots...

(BTW - if you haven't already figured it out, you can click individual pics for an enlarged image - which is especially cool with these shots)

If you look on the left-hand side of this picture, you can see a little sliver of comb down between the frames, that the girls have drawn out -

And this picture shows the difference in size between a drone and a worker. The guy hanging upside down towards the left side of the hive is a drone, all of the others are workers. The drones are almost twice as big,

Here is an interesting article that I came across that gives you a sense of how honeybees know their roles in the hive community, how they communicate and also how they locate flowers for nectar and pollen - pretty amazing for a little insect -

The second colony should be coming in two weeks or so (this is the one that will come as a "nuc" - a mini-hive, as opposed to the "package"). A few months ago, I had the idea to see if I could keep one of the hives at our local community garden. The Spring Gardens is a huge, beautiful, well-established, 15 year-old community garden that is just a few blocks from our house - I contacted the garden and after some back and forth, I went to the garden today to meet with them and it looks like we are going to give it a try. They have a huge shipping container (approximately 10'x10'x20') that they use as a storage shed, which is surrounded by a big grove of bamboo. They suggested that I keep the bees on top of the shed in order to keep them out of the way. I am a little concerned that it might be too shady up there, but over the next few weeks, they will take a closer look at how much sun the roof of the shed actually gets. So that's an exciting possibility. It would give the bees a great source of food and also help pollinate the garden. I also just like the idea of connecting with the garden. If it works out well this year and all of the gardener's get more comfortable with the idea of having bees, I would love do some educational stuff with the hives or maybe keep a hive in the garden proper so that people could watch the bees.

I'll leave you with a little movie - turn up the volume and you can hear the buzzzzzzzzzz... (I was literally one foot away from the hive and not one bee even noticed me, they were too busy)

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