Sunday, May 23, 2021

Hoping for the Best

The bees are continuing to be confusing. Today I really got into the hive and found a couple of things. (1) They still haven't started drawing comb on the flow frames, so I rubbed beeswax all over them in the hopes of enticing them to start. (2) There were more queen cells, including a few emergency queen cells. (3) Close inspection of every single frame showed me there were no larvae anywhere. Which means there is a problem with the queen.

So I left the queen cells I found, and closed it all up again, and emailed my bee mentor. Hopefully he has some ideas. They definitely haven't swarmed, and they definitely have room in there, so fingers crossed this is the right decision.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Still There

It's been a week since I moved combs around in the hive in an effort to get the bees up into the Flow hive and prevent them from swarming. Today I went to check on them and they are definitely up there now, but not laying wax down on the flow frames just yet. They do seem to be getting ready to build comb on the last regular frame up there. They appear healthy and appropriately active.

While still feeling weird about it, I destroyed another 4-5 queen cells that I had missed last week. It seems like the correct way to manage a potential swarm. I am still hopeful that they'll figure out they have a whole other box of frames and move in for good. If they still haven't made much progress by next week I'll bring some beeswax to rub on the frames as extra enticement. 

Meanwhile, the backyard is full of nesting birds: cardinals, robins, even an oriole made an appearance but I'm not sure he stayed. Also, two baby bunnies have been sighted amongst the other small mammals. We have the ubiquitous squirrels and chipmunks, several adult bunnies, and a vole. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

I Hope I'm Doing the Right Thing

It's a nice sunny but cool day and I have been meaning to check on the hive. I got the smoker really going today and took a look around. First of all, the bees haven't started drawing comb in the flow hive, which apparently isn't unusual. But, because they think they don't have enough space, they are preparing to swarm. I found several queen cells and lots of brood, and lots of honey filled comb in the middle box. I did not look into the bottom box. 

After a little thinking, what I decided to do was move the comb that just had honey and no brood up to the flow hive. The four flow frames are in the center and there are four regular frames on the sides. Since I found three frames in the middle box with honey and no brood, I moved those into the flow hive and brought empty frames down in their place. I also destroyed most of the queen cells I could find, about which I felt badly, but I need to try to keep a swarm from happening as best as I can. I do think that Alcibee is doing fine given the large amount of worker brood I'm seeing and the fanning behavior the bees were doing while I was in there. 

The other thing I found were several scouting ants, the large kind like we find in the house in the spring. I hope the bees are dealing appropriately with them. 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Spring Dinner

Yesterday we went for a walk at one of my favorite conservation lands, which has meadows and forest and lots of beehives. My top bar hives, which I gave away last year, ended up there, and there are at least four other collections of hives. There is also a Victory Garden and some marshes. As you might imagine, there are lots of birds and lots of foraging. 

I'd hoped to snag some garlic mustard to make a risotto to go with dinner, but I'm a little late; the garlic mustard has already flowered and would likely be [more] bitter. But I did see nettles just starting to come up, right when they are at their best. 

Despite my lack of gloves, I picked the tips off about a cup's worth of nettles, tossed in a few violet flowers, and brought them home. My fingers definitely got stung, and they tingled quite a bit for the rest of the day. Worth it -

Once I got home, I made a nettle and field garlic risotto, using the field garlic from the yard (you know, the stuff that grows everywhere that looks like chives). This was served with chicken piccata and a salad garnished with those violets I picked. A fresh tasting dinner to celebrate Spring!