When Everything Looked Great*

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Oh the good times.. when the queen was laying and the worker bees were bringing in honey and pollen. Where did those times go? Okay, that is a bit dramatic. In reality, this summer has the potential to create some strong colonies and produce lots of sweet, sweet, honey.

*Over at the garden, we’ve already dealt with Spencer’s hive swarming. My hive has had a great start to the beekeeping season with a few issues along the way.

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All the rain we have been having has been great as the bees have been raking in the nectar and making honey.

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Before installing this hive, I converted my solid bottom board into a screened bottom board. This allows better airflow in the hive and also helps control varroa mites.  When the varroa mites fall off a bee, rather than climbing back up and into the brood chamber, they fall through the screen and out of the hive. Unfortunately, the screen mesh I installed was just big enough for bees to squeeze through when entering and exiting the hive. When they squeeze through, the mesh scrapes their pollen baskets and flicks the pollen granule to the floor. What you see in the photo above is a pile of pollen under the hive. There has been a lot of pollen this year and I know they have also brought pollen in from the front, so I am not too concerned.

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Bee pollen is actually a super nutrient. Some people take bee pollen as a natural energy supplement. It also has a very interesting taste and texture. The bees won’t recollect the pollen once it has fallen on the ground. Rather than let this pollen go to waste, I collected most of it and put it in a jar in my fridge that I snack on from time to time. Just another delicious byproduct of beekeeping.

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Here is a great example of a good laying pattern.  You can see a little white rice-shaped egg in each empty cell. When a healthy queen is laying properly, the pattern is densely clustered, with one egg per cell.

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The egg develops into a larvae and eventually capped with wax. The capped larvae is the final stage of brood before hatching into a baby bee. Again this is a very dense pattern, which is great.

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Honey is also capped with wax. After the bees bring in nectar, they wait until they have the right level of moisture in the cells before capping it off, which is when it is officially considered honey.

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With a hive is thriving and doing great with resources, it is only natural that the bees start to consider swarming.  Here are two queen cups the bees have created in preparation to swarm. Looks like I will have some work ahead of me.

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Ready for another super?


I went into my beehive last weekend with my friend Christina. With her artistic background, we were able to get some nice shots.  In the photo above, the bees appear to be walking back to the hive. But they’re not.  They are just sitting there with the abdomens in the air.  One thing I read was that elder bees sit at the entrance of the hive and open certain glands that release a pheromone that travels with the wind to help direct younger foraging bees back to the hive. They may or may not be doing that in this image.


The main purpose of this inspection was to see if the bees were ready to have an additional super added to the hive.  The last time I was in there, there were 4 empty frames with no built out comb on them.  If these were still empty, I would not add the super.  Thankfully, my bees have been very productive.  Comb was built out on the previously empty frames and the hive was ready for an additional super.


This is the empty super I will be adding to the top of the hive.  These frames have no comb, just the plasticell foundation. Once the bees build out the comb in these frames, they will be filling it with honey!  These frames are what I will be harvesting from in August, hopefully.


As I separated and lifted out a frame, there was some burr comb built between frames.  The action of lifting ripped them apart exposing a couple cells.  Here you can see a fresh larvae being exposed.  The bees will probably clean house and remove the larvae from the hive since it can no longer be born.


Here you can see a worker bee carrying a dead bee away from the hive.  They not only remove any dead bees from the hive, but take them away from the hive entrance.  This could be to keep a clear flight path or possibly to keep pests and mites from being attracted towards the hive.


Here’s a look at what’s going on under the super as I lift it off the ground.  Busy bees!


Scoot out of the way girls! Daddy is here to feed you.

Here I am laying their sugar water mixture in place.  I will continue to provide this to them until they stop taking it, which I imagine will be soon.  My sugar water mixture is an even 1:1 ratio of sugar and water this time of year.  I also add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to balance the acidic levels to something similar to nectar they would take from a flower. Providing the bees with sugar water gives them a boost of energy to continue to build out their new home with more comb.  As they become a more mature hive, I will be feed them only at certain points in the year.  As it is now, they consume an 8 cup sugar water mixture bag every 10-14 days.


I’ll end with a photo of me and Christina. Here we are excited and ready to enter the hive with our proper hive protective gear and tools.