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Archive for the ‘brood’ Category

Fall honey and pollen

Today was a gorgeous day out there – nice day to work the bees, not too hot. While I was in an office listening to the breeze whip bush limbs against my window, Mark and Stan were busy, busy. Stan’s got a whole lot of our honey bottled and ready for markets, class and other events coming up. What a great help and a great space saver for us. I actually was able to move freely around the Honey House after work as I met a customer and then did some work there (although my flowing skirt kept catching on the bottling tank valves, hehe).

Anyway, that gorgeous frame at the top of the post is from the Pizza yard and I think it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s a shot like that – of the perfect frame – that makes me wish I was there with him with my big camera. The colors are gorgeous. That’s brood in the center followed by a ring of pollen and then honey. The bees are doing very well at the Pizza yard and they made some fantastic honey that I got to taste this evening. Thanks, girls!

Now, below is a shot of two of the five mites Mark spotted on the poor little larva. 😦 This is why he’s treating with Mite Away. To put this in perspective for people during our bee classes, Mark tells students to imagine a tick the size of a FOOTBALL on your back – just sucking the life out of you. YUCK. Now imagine five of them. 😦 I am so sad just thinking about the poor bees. Let’s hope the Mite Away does its job well and helps them out a bit. So far, so good with the treatments.

Mites on bee larva

Let’s end on a good note, shall we? Mark also visited the Marriott again and was pleased with his check of the treatment he applied earlier. Then he sent me this shot and again I marveled at the beauty of the bees’ work. Gorgeous frame of pollen and bees. It takes so many little pouches of pollen to fill each one of those cells…can you imagine how many foraging trips it took the bees to fill one cell? And then all the cells on one frame? And then the other frames in one bee box? And then the other boxes stacked on the colony? That’s a lot of work.

Bees & Pollen

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Greetings from lovely Florida where we are with my entire family – a huge reunion to send my mother off on her next journey. Thank you for the support and kind words that you have sent us. While we are sad that mom is no longer here with us, we are happy that she had a peaceful home-going and that she no longer has to worry about aches and pains. In her honor, I want to write about two things – a recent interest (bees) and a lifelong love (flowers).

Mom loved hearing how we and the bees were doing each time I talked with her or when we visited. She would ask how what Mark was doing with them and if they were making honey. Last year, we talked about how hard it was for them to survive during the drought and how hard it was for the flowers to survive as well. This year, we visited her a couple of times and we were able to tell her that things looked better with the rains we received over the winter months and then also into spring. I wish I could have shown her our wildflowers because she would have loved the colors out here. My mom could make any plant robust, even if I had taken it to the point of death. 🙂 She was AMAZING! She would have loved the Horsemint from this season, which was abundant and fragrant, too.

Horsemint at Big Oaks with butterfly

Here’s a shot to remind you what the Horsemint from 2011 looked like with so little rain. See how brown it was? See how brown the background was as well?

Poor Horse Mint

In the picture at the beginning of this post, did you notice the bees with yellow pollen on their backs? They get that from the horsemint because of the way the flower is shaped. As you watch them work the Horsemint, you can see how their backs rub up against the flower in a way that gets pollen all over them. Here’s a closeup of some of them –

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And here is a shot of one of the girls working the Horsemint –

Bee in Horsemint

Amazing what a year makes. Here’s to you mom. You’re gone in body but you’ll always, always, always be in our hearts. We love you and we know you’re now going to be able to visit all our bee yards with us. 🙂

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Full shot of the newer hives at the Farm

After about a week of dreary weather, the sun shined brightly today and it turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day in the neighborhood so you know what that means – bee work! The picture above is the second of two locations of hives we have at My Father’s Farm on Highway 123. We usually just call it The Farm bee yard now for short. Mark and David picked this location for the fifty or so hives they brought back from East Texas last year. Then they move hives to other yards as they are ready. Hard to believe how different everything is this year compared to last year. They actually made up twenty new hives last week out of this yard. Very nice. We’re going to need more bees to make honey with all the beautiful flowers we have popping up everywhere!

I saw some really wonderful things today and I can post all the shots I would like to so I’m going to point you to the Flickr set for The Farm bee yard. You can see what I saw today. 🙂 Meanwhile, let me hit the highlights for you here. The Bluebonnets are here! The Bluebonnets are here! Now, they are only just starting to come out, but it’s lovely to see them sprinkled here and here. I especially love that the bees are getting after the pollen on the blooms. I think that pollen is the red we see them carrying in. Speaking of which, they are carrying in a great amount of pollen – it’s so nice to see our bees gearing up for spring! Things are really just about to burst around here. Last year, Mark reminded me it was already about 90 degrees this time of the year. I’m so glad this year has brought us abundant rain to catch up from the drought and the temperatures have been very pleasant. No complaints here!

Bee on Bluebonnet 3

For a while, I watched Mark introduce his Big Island queens from Hawaii – he had about eighteen to do I believe. The caged queens have been in there two days now and so Mark took out the cork and put in a candy stopper for each queen. Now she and her assistants will eat their way out just as the hive bees will also eat their way in to release her. It’s so neat to learn the whole queen introduction process Mark goes through each time with each queen. You really have to be patient so that you don’t rush the introduction and in that way, the bees will have time to adjust to and accept their new queen. There was one incident of taking eyes away from the cage for a second or two to switch out the stoppers and then poof – she disappeared on Mark! Poor thing. We couldn’t find her but fortunately he had an extra queen.

Taking out the cork on the queen cage 4

Have you ever seen a bee come out of it’s cell for the first time? It’s really neat to watch and you have to be super patient (gee, beekeeping = patience I guess) because it just takes time to watch the frame of bees. I saw this for the first time at one of our past events where we had the observation hive. It was so fun to watch it happen with the folks who stopped by to visit our booth. I was amazed to learn that they know, as soon as they “hatch out” of their cells, that they are to turn right around and clean it out to prepare it for use again. My goodness – couldn’t ask for a better tenant and worker, right? Anyway, I got a real treat today! I got to see not one, not two…but THREE bees coming out of their cells at the same time. And drones at that – those big boys made me laugh and I felt like a proud parent cheering them on. Sort of reminded me of that scene from Jurassic Park (first one) where the park creator watched baby dinosaurs hatching out of their eggs. 🙂 Anyway, here are the triplet drones. They are in the center of the picture and their heads are sticking up – versus most other bees you see working a frame, their heads are often sticking down into the cell as they clean, store pollen, etc.

Drones emerging from cells

We had a wonderful weekend even though the rains meant we actually canceled our bee class for the first time ever. But the rain did not keep everyone away – we still had several visitors to the honey house and we really enjoyed meeting our new friends and future students (yes, they’re all coming back!). We also had some time to prepare some materials for our hive sponsors. We have to get things ready for sharing with the two schools sponsoring hives. We’re excited to take this journey with all the staff and students! Okay I should probably stop here or else this post could just go on too long. You all have a great week and we’ll keep you posted on all the things we are doing to gear up for what could be a great season!

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In the hive 10

Hi everyone. This week has been filled with lots of different activities – from visiting a friend’s garden property to our class today with sales and visits in between as well emails and so on. We had a great class this morning despite it being a bit on the chilly side. It has been a long time since we had a cozy class of six. A small class allows for more personal conversation, getting to know each other. Thanks for joining us, folks! In the picture above, Mark was able to show the students a lot of things in the hive today, including the process through which he counts mites. On this board, they were able to see a beetle (squished after show and tell), beetle larvae and mites that had been groomed off the bees. Nice!

Me at Mike's Altwein Farm

Speaking of class, in the above photo, we visited with Mike, a former student, at his nearby garden, half-way between Seguin and New Braunfels. Always a great time visiting with Mike – he is so enthusiastic about things he does and he has marvelous gardens. The vegetables he sends back with us are amazing! We are thrilled to work with him to get hives on his gardens in the near future.

David & Mark discuss an upcoming event

Finally, I wanted to share a shot I particularly like of David and Mark as they plan the takeover of the world through bees and honey. 🙂 They are so fun and I knew they were out at the Farm yard Friday afternoon so I hoped over there after work to catch a bit of the great outdoors before it got too dark. The bees were really flying these days and that’s wonderful to see.

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Drones, Interrupted

Baby bees!!

When hives start getting big in the spring, the queen begins to lay eggs in honeycomb that the bees build in-between the upper and lower hive boxes. Today at the Big Oaks bee yard, I accidentally exposed this brood as I unstacked the boxes to examine and feed the hive. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. These are drone larvae and when they’re exposed I can examine them for mites and get an idea of the mite load inside the hive. Drone larvae is attractive to mites because drones take longer to develop inside their cells. That gives the mites that are inside the drone cells an opportunity for more reproductive cycles. Fortunately, I didn’t find any mites that were attached to these larvae. I did install the HopGuard strips and I’ll check the white board on this hive tomorrow to get an even better reading on its mite levels.

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Mark & David check the wax moth damage

Today was a weird sort of day at work for me so I rushed home afterwards and after about four minutes, decided I just had to get outside. I pinged Mark to see if he and David were done yet at The Farm yard. YAY, they were wrapping up but Mark said for me to come on out so I rushed out the door. The weather had cleared up by afternoon and it was warm enough for Mark and David to check on the new hives we got. Not a cloud was left in the sky by the time I got there at 5:30 p.m.

Good news: The hives are going strong and we have twenty-nine that have a second deep super, or brood box, on them. The queens were enlarging the brood nests already and that was a happy sight for my beekeepers to see. I could tell they were very pleased with their visit today. When they showed me the hives, I was amazed to see how they bees were out and flying like crazy. I don’t blame them, it was a gorgeous day to get out after the rains we’ve been getting. David said they were carrying all sorts of pollen in different colors. I bet that was nice to see!

Bad news: See the pictures? These are (luckily) just a few frames that the wax moths had gotten a hold of while the frames were sitting in storage in one of the vacant greenhouses on the property. YUCK. But still not as bad as I have seen him deal with in the past. Mark’s going to save one or two of these for teaching purposes. The others he will simply toss.

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I enjoyed my brief visit with the guys as they packed up. I got to breathe fresh air, see beautiful bees in flight, saw some hilarious chickens and a rooster, watch a chicken chase a dog (and he cried!)…got to be with my honey bee and that always takes my stresses away. Here’s one of the things I enjoyed seeing at the Farm yard. (And even though wax worms are not my favorite thing to see, I am still glad I got to learn more about them.)

A rooster & his hens

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Spring Fever!

Frame of bees Big Oaks

I know it’s mid-winter, and January is hardly behind us, but the bees are acting as if spring is right around the corner. I am seeing the bees building up earlier than usual and with more enthusiasm than I saw all of last year. The queens are laying solid and gradually larger brood patterns on multiple frames, like this one. It is good to see after struggling with drought diminished hives most of last year. Many hives are still drought-weakened and have much ground to make up – the fact that they are getting an early start is encouraging.

bee with red pollen

We’ve been watching bees carry in multiple pollens this winter, including this beautiful red colored pollen. And they are finding it in large quantities. This pollen, protein for the bees and their young, is what the bees were dying for last year and why they are thriving this year.

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