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Archive for the ‘brood’ Category

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.

photo 3

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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Bee Eggs & Pollen

New bees different stages Oct 2011

In beekeeping class I stress the importance of being able to identify eggs that the queen has laid. A good pattern of eggs indicates the presence of a good queen and a healthy hive. In class it’s hard to show students eggs on a frame because they are so small and the light has to catch the frame just right – so I was happy that Thien captured this great shot of eggs and larvae that we can now reference in class. I like the way you can see the spectrum of worker bee development, from egg to larvae to capped brood as you move your eyes across the frame. It helps that I used a black foundation, specially made to help old eyes like mine spot the tiny eggs.

Yellow pollen on frame with bees Oct 2011

We also spotted plenty of beautiful pollen at the Big Oaks bee yard. I like the way the color of it stands out against that black foundation. A good pollen flow prompts the queen to lay eggs, which is good because we need plenty of young bees in these hives for them to survive the winter.

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Healthy frame of brood

After class and lunch, Mark went out to the Coyote yard and released the queen he had installed in a slightly aggressive hive. I believe that was a hive that he had caught as a swarm and he had doubts as to whether or not they’d stick around at all. They have but then they started behaving in a manner he didn’t like so he decided it was time to put a marked Olivarez queen in there to calm them down. I had intended to go with him to two yards today but we thought it best for me to not go to Coyote and take any chances so I stayed home and worked on pictures and so on.

I did get to go to Deadman Creek and these are some of the pictures I took with Mark’s iPhone, which I think takes pretty nice shots for a mobile device, smart or not. Can you believe I lugged my Nikon out there only to realize I had forgotten to reinsert my memory card?? It sat nice and safe in my laptop. At home. Oh well. Sometimes I think as I wander the yards, what pictures should I take that are different from other pictures I’ve already taken of this bee yard and of bees in general. So I got creative today after I snapped a few to show you how well the bees are doing. It’s amazing how some rain really boosts the bees. They were carrying pollen in like crazy! And it was a lovely bright yellow, which is what you see in some of the cells on the frame in the top shot. Below is a shot of one of the queen cages Mark checked on today. He said they have pretty much almost finished eating through the cork to get the queen out. Great sign and he was satisfied. Today he put in the candy cork, which they will take about a week to eat through. He likes to call this the Very Slow Method of Queen Introduction. Seriously!

Queen cage with bees

Finally, here’s a fun shot we both really enjoyed. I set the iPhone on top of the hive box because I was found watching the bees from the angle so interesting. I thought I’d try out the angle as a shot and I ended up liking it so much, I shot two short videos in addition to this photo. I will try and get the videos off Mark’s phone and onto YouTube before the work week starts up for me. Between updating the phone, Time Warner’s sporadic performance and our schedule…we’ll see how it goes. But I’ll work on it! 🙂

Vertical view of hive entrance

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pulling out old frames

Today Mark went out to the Big Red Barn, formally known as the Texas Agricultural Education and Heritage Center, which we’ve posted about in the past when he or both of us have been out there for educational events such as Ag Fest. This time he went out in order to deliver some bees of ours for the observation hive. Seems their bees flew off so they needed some replacements. In the above shot, Mark’s opened up the case with the help of a very nice man who works the farm. He has to remove the old bottom frames and clean things up a bit. Looks like these bees and frames had been in the case for a while. Then, in the below picture, he is placing one of our new bee frames into the bottom slot. He picked some frames that had plenty of brood ready to go. This one was nice and full on both sides.

Mark placing bee frames 2

Finally, in the shot below, Mark has completed the cleaning and installation of our bees and they now have a new home at the Barn. We are eager to see how they fare there and hope they will thrive with their Derwin Thrash queen. We’ll need her to lay plenty of eggs in order to rebuild the hive there so that when we go out to speak to people coming through there, we’ll have plenty to educate with as they go about their business. I still wish we could figure out how to put a webcam on the bees. That’d be really neat to see where they go and how they get in and out of the tube at the Barn. 🙂

Big Red Barn Bees closeup

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Frame of brood Aug 2011

I checked the new colonies at Deadman Creek this morning and was pleased with how they are doing, despite the drought and resulting lack of nectar and pollen for the bees to eat. This frame of brood is typical. Baby bees should hatch from these cells in about three days, and they will be the first children from the Derwin Thrash queen that I installed in this hive in early August. Out of the 20 new hives that I made up, I believe 15 to 18 will be viable hives. I will move them out to the various bee yards as soon as the weather changes and we see lower temperatures and some rain. It’s bound to happen sooner or later.

Zia queen Aug 2011

This is a blue-dotted Zia queen that I installed last year in one of the existing hives at Deadman Creek. Those Zia queens are not fazed by anything – they just keep right on laying eggs even when the entire hive is taken apart by the beekeeper. Here’s a nice video of this queen laying a couple of eggs. When the video starts, she is in the process of laying an egg in a cell. When she pulls out of that cell she almost immediately finds another cell to lay in. She is all work. It’s interesting to see how she moves around the hive, followed by her attendants. If it were me, I would like a little privacy now and then.

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derwin thrash queen

This is one of our new white-dotted queens from Derwin Thrash, a friend in Mississippi. She was installed in a nucleus hive about 10 days ago, and I confirmed today that she had been accepted by the hive. She has just started to lay eggs and establish some brood. In fact, in this photo she is pulling her abdomen from a cell, into which she has just deposited an egg. It’s nice to have queens that just go about their business, even when their hive is being opened up by an intruder. That’s quite a circle of attendants she has around her, don’t you think?

Derwin called me yesterday to check on how the queens are doing and I was happy to tell him that, so far, all have been accepted by their respective hives. More checking tomorrow.

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I lost the queen from this hive back in April when I was trying to put her in an observation hive. She simply flew away and never came back. The hive languished for weeks and the bees were unable to make a new queen. When I checked on it last week I expected to find a small cluster of bees huddled against an onslaught of hive beetles and wax moths. Instead I found a healthy, growing hive with a great new queen. She is in the upper right corner of the photo. The white brood in the center of the frame, and several other frames of brood, speak to her fertility. I’m usually wary of locally produced queens because of the aggressiveness of their offspring, but these bees were as calm and gentle as could be. I am really at a loss to explain how the bees made a new queen after being queen-less and brood-less for so long.  After losing some hives this year, it felt great to see one saved. It reminded me of one of my first lessons in beekeeping: the bees can usually fix their problems better than I can.

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