It’s been so busy this week that we haven’t had a chance to post as we want. I think I started this post for Mark a couple of nights ago but he hasn’t had a chance to get to it as we prepare for one of our busy weekends. Tomorrow we have our very first advance topic class – How To Build Up Your Bees in the Spring. We are so excited about expanding our curriculum. And it will be more than a class. The class really developed because we wanted to make sure our students had as much knowledge as possible in order to care for the bees they will pick up tomorrow morning. I’m a trainer by trade (technology and personnel development) and it takes time and serious thought to make a class session productive and successful. People who have never trained often think you simply show up and start talking. So…to make tomorrow productive and meaningful for our students, Mark and David have been working hard on their outline. Then they ran through it a few times today. Talking it out often allows you to perfect it even more.
Now, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with the queen pictures. Well, I mentioned students picking up nucs tomorrow, right? Mark and David wanted the students, many of whom are first time beekeepers, to easily spot their queens so this week Mark watched lots of YouTube videos and read articles on painting or marking queens. And then we went to Hobby Lobby for a white paint pen and got to work. I can’t imagine doing this without pulling the poor queen’s wing(s) or leg(s) off or panicking and accidentally squeezing or losing her. I was pretty impressed with Mark found the queen, picked her up by the wings, switched hands and took her by her legs and then used his right hand to uncap the paint pen and mark her back. Then he put her in a glass jar to allow the paint to dry before putting her back in the hive. But after about five queens, he changed to simply holding her over her hive for a few minutes and then releasing her back in among the bees. This seemed to work better – there was something odd about their behavior and a couple of the hives actually tried to attack their queens. Weird. We’re not sure why. He checked the queens a couple of times and when he went back the next day, only two of the queens had been rejected. We’ll have to look into this more when we have a chance.
Now, having said all this, I will tell you that it does get easier to spot the queen with practice. Even unmarked queens. For the first couple of years of watching Mark, it took me FOREVER to spot the queens. Now, I sometimes can find her before Mark does! I am very proud of that. Means he taught me well. You can view more pictures of the queen marking process on our Flickr photo set.
The yard is now set for class and we look forward to posting the experience tomorrow. This shot is when we were almost done – minus the nucs we had to pick up from Big Oaks and the Farm bee yards. Had to wait till dusk to get the girls. They are all lined up by the honey house tonight. Supplies are on the table. Honey is out as well and we’ve got water, lemonade and granola bars for snacks. Should be a fun morning!