Archive for the ‘Elm Creek’ Category

1 hive, 2 queens

How many queens are in a hive? is a frequent question in beekeeping class.  The easy and usual answer is “only one.” But nature is never easy or usual. I’ve seen many hives with double queens, usually a mother, daughter combination where the mother is still laying eggs and the daughter has not yet mated. This is a short-term situation and the hive will either kill the less desirable queen, or part of the hive will swarm with one of the queens, restoring the hive to its proper one-queen condition.

I was feeding hives at Elm Creek and noticed this unusual site – two queens that were both laying eggs, and very near one another on the same frame. The queen with the white dot is a queen that I introduced into the hive over the summer. The other queen (see her to the left of the white-dotted queen?) was created by the hive, probably during a queen-less period before the new queen was introduced. I’ve never witnessed two queens working, almost in tandem, to lay eggs and produce new brood. Some cells even had two eggs, perhaps one from each queen. I’ve always wondered why the hive should be limited to only one queen when two would seem better to ensure its survivability. Not sure what to make of it – I’ll have to check with some old-time beekeepers who seem to have good and ready answers for every mystery.

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Deadman Creek Bee Yard

Today was another hot day but a gentle (though hot) breeze did help a bit as we went out to check on the bees at Elm Creek and Deadman Creek yards. First stop was Deadman Creek, which now serves as a nursery yard for us. Despite the extreme heat and drought this summer and the fact that there is ZILCH out there for the poor bees to feed on, we have managed to divide and increase by about eighteen hives from our existing hives. We had hoped to have about fifty more this year and while we didn’t reach that goal, we are thankful that we have fared as well as we have. There are twenty-four hives at our nursery at this time. The picture above is a shot I snapped of the entire collection of hives while Mark dusted for mites and feed the bees pollen patties and some sugar syrup to help sustain them until we (hopefully) get some much needed rain.

Below is a short video of how Mark dusts the hives with powdered sugar in order to treat for mites. He’s tried several different things but has not been completely satisfied with them though this is the best option for now. Dusting the bees knocks the mites off and the mites fall to through the screen bottoms. If he wants to do a count of the mites, he sometimes will also place a grid board under the boxes so that he can catch the mites on there and do a count. Once the count reaches a certain level, he knows to kick in some sort of treatment. I always enjoy watching this method of powdered sugar for several reasons. First, the bees become “ghost bees” for a while and they are easy to spot as they fly around or wandered into another hive. Second, it’s powdered sugar. What’s not to like? Third, I find it fascinating that this simple treatment will help knock those little mites off our poor bees. No matter that the bees freak out for a few minutes because they suddenly have a powder substance on them and they may experience impaired vision and disorientation (see previous post about a ghost bee mistakenly going to a different hive). Finally, I also liked that Mark’s never been stung by a powdered bee and they appear to be welcomed in other hives should they accidentally enter a wrong one. A bee’s life seems so adventurous to me.

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Beautiful frame of honey at Elm Creek

Looks like I missed another exciting day out at the bee yards with Mark and the bees. Despite the lack of rain, our wildflowers and trees are in bloom so the girls are busy – especially with the Mesquite blooms, which are abundant at this time. Mark snapped this shot at the Elm Creek yard when he checked on them today. Apparently it tasted even better than it looked. Let’s hope the girls make us a lot of that delicious Mesquite honey this season! We have a long waiting list!

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Guess what THIS is.

Mark checked on the hives at Elm Creek today to make sure things were coming along okay. Here’s what he saw in one of the internal feeders in a hive. Who can guess what the story is here?

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Cute ducks @ My Father's Farm

Today Mark checked on two bee yards – Elm Creek and My Father’s Farm nearby. These are two well established yards and they are both doing great. Every hive is strong despite the extreme heat. It’s good that he picked spots that provide some shade during the late afternoon heat, when it’s extremely intense. It’s also good that those industrious bees have fanners stationed at the entrance of the hive – their jobs are to fan their wings in order to keep the hives cool. Neat, ins’t it, how they know to do that? It’s fascinating to learn these things about the bees.

Mark spotted these two ducks strolling through the garden, eating bugs. What a nice way to take care of the bug problems in a garden. This is also the location that has those cute goats I photographed not too long ago. I love visiting the farm particularly to see the animals Pedro has there.

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Uncapping a beautiful frame

Well, the extraction officially kicked off today with the first batch from Elm Creek. In the above picture, Mark is uncapping a frame so that it can be placed in the extractor below. Our friend Belinda is helping out since I’m at work and she is a much better helper than I was last year! She looked very efficient doing everything and she and Mark made great progress today. We got a sample a bit of the honey at our traditional extraction dinner – fried chicken, biscuits and honey. I put a twist on it and made rice. 🙂 We loved it! Dinner with great friends and great honey – can’t beat that.

Spinning that honey

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Not so bright butterfly

So we saw this crazy butterfly when we were out at Elm Creek last week. Well, there’s a million butterflies everywhere right now but this one was actually trying to get INTO one of the hives! LOL. It just kept trying to get in that slot and once even turned itself sideways and I thought it might have accomplished its goal but it came right back out. Seems it wants the honey (maybe it smelled it?) but the bees did a very good job kicking it out and away. Maybe that explains some of the tattered bits on the wings. 🙂

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