Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Growing Up

In the last week I have checked on all 5 hives and they are all doing well. I have added new boxes to all of the hives as they grow their population.  The queens need room to lay more eggs so that the colonies can expand and prepare for the rest of the nectar flow.  Some of the hives were stronger than others, some had better laying queens but we'll see how the hives progress through the rest of the summer.  There is a bunch of honey in the hive at my house and the larger two hives at the Field St site.  I am going to harvest some of it next week and bring it to the next meeting of the Beekeepers Guild.  We are going to do an extraction demo and I will be doing the crush and strain method.  We'll also demo how to use a honey extractor.

For the most part things were unremarkable when I checked on each hive, but one of the hives at Folsom St (this is the site where the tree was cut down) was sharing its home.  I opened the hive to see tens of thousands of little black ants and their eggs scurrying around on the inner cover of the hive (unfortunately I didn't get any pictures). It looked as though they were living in the outer cover - between the aluminum and wood. I quickly took the cover and dumped it off on the other side of the park.  The bees didn't seemed bothered by the ants but this hive did seem a little weaker than the one right next to it.  There are so many variables that it's hard to know if the ants were a problem.  (I have been back to check on this hive and it is fine.  The ants are gone and the bees are carrying on with their business.)

Here are a few other observations and pictures.

We had some really hot days in the past few weeks, some near 90 degrees. On one of those days I was watching the hive on the roof and I saw this -

Look closely at the front of the hive and you will see a bunch of the girls with their butts sticking up and facing outwards from the opening of the hive.  They move their wings while they are in this position in order to create a current of air to help keep the hive cool on really hot days. Basically, air conditioning!

In this shot you can see a new bee about to emerge from its cell.  On the left side of the photo look at the cell with the little hole in it.  The bee is chewing her way out the cell in order to join her sisters.  Pretty amazing to watch (I tried video but my little camera didn't do well with the close up).  The glistening liquid in the adjacent cells is nectar on its way to becoming honey - yum!!

 Here is some beautiful foundationless comb being drawn.  These are the Carniolan bees from Vermont - you can notice that some of the bees are much darker, almost grayish-black in color.

On this particular day of inspections, I did take a few stings.  You can see how I react - my left hand took one sting on the knuckle. 

This was about 24 hours after the sting, when the swelling was at its worst.  The itching wasn't too bad this time.  I am hoping that as time goes on and I get stung more that my reaction is not quite as severe.  From what I gather, it can go either way - you can become less sensitive or more sensitive. 

Thanks to fellow Guild member Dave Harrod, I found a book called Clan Apis - it is a graphic novel that basically describes in accurate detail what life is like inside of a honeybee colony, told through the eyes and mouth of "Nyuki" the honeybee.  It is an entertaining and informative read.  I am currently reading it to my daughter and she loves it.  To get a sense of his style, click on Clan Apis link above and then click the link on the right called "Killer Bee" and you can read a true story about the author (a bee researcher) rendered in his cartoon style.

1 comment:

  1. Nice pictures! Love the emerging bee.

    I got stung on the lip and had a nice swelling but not much itching. A month before, I got stung three times on the cheekbone and had no swelling, but lots of itching. It's hard for me to say if one was worse than the other.

    Your picture illustrates nicely one of my beekeeping rules: Always remove your rings before working with bees. May I borrow your photo (with credit, of course) to reiterate that?