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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

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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HopGuard

Medicine for the bees

This is HopGuard, a strip of cardboard soaked with a gooey concoction made from hops. According to the manufacturer, it is a natural product that will kill the mites in my hives, but will not kill my bees. One drawback is that it is messy, and latex gloves are a must. Just an FYI – bees can sting through latex gloves.

The cardboard strip straddles across a frame with the ends hanging down into the brood nest. I placed two of these strips in each brood box.

Here are the two installed strips. The good news is that the bees do not seem bothered in the least by the product. Unfortunately, it will only kill the mites that are on the bees, not the ones attached to developing brood inside the cells, so several applications may be needed. I placed a white board under the hives to catch the mites that drop from the hive. After about 30 minutes, I counted zero mites dropped from one hive and one mite dropped from another. Maybe my fall mite treatments with Apiguard were very effective. Or maybe I need to give HopGuard more time to work. I’ll check the white boards again in 24 hours.

Meanwhile, in the Elm Creek area…

Agarita, one of our best, early honey plants is officially in bloom. It’s interesting that the buds are red and the flowers, after they open are bright yellow. Agarita honey has a fantastic flavor and someday I hope to have some hives strong enough early enough to produce some that I can harvest. But not this year. The bees are doing well, but are still in drought recovery mode. They need all the nutrients they can get right now.

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Gonzales Yaupon with bee

Today Mark was a busy beekeeper – he visited four bee yards and restocked at Ta’s Coffee in Marion. Phew. And it got pretty warm today out there. I saw that tomorrow will be in the mid-90s already. Feels like summer! I need a pool. Luckily the bees seem to be well and picking up a bit of steam as they crank up the honey making activities. Made Mark very happy to see most of them progressing appropriately.

These are a couple of shots Mark snapped while at the Gonzales Bee Yard. This is a Yaupon plant and it is native to Texas. It has a sweet scent to it and the bees love it. We think it’s the key ingredient that gave the Gonzales Wildflower Honey that distinctive taste that we all liked so much. You could definitely taste a difference between last year’s Wildflower honeys from Guadalupe and Gonzales counties. We don’t see many Yaupons here in Guadalupe County, where we live, but I wish we did. I love the delicate flowers and it’s fun when we get to see the Yaupons in Gonzales. You can stand under or in front of the Yaupon and if you just watch and listen, you’ll see and hear the bees all over it. Very fun to watch them working the blooms. We did that last year I recall and I look forward to another opportunity soon to visit Gonzales with Mark.

Yaupon in Gonzales bee yard

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Redbud Frenzy

Redbud Bee

Though spring is near and things are starting to bud out for us, there’s still not a lot for the bees just yet. BUT…we can offer them a bit of Redbud in the front yard as well a little tree in the backyard. They LOVE this and are all over each year. We love to see the beautiful purple blooms explode each spring – it’s not there yet but soon it will be and if you stand under it and stay still and simply look to the sky, you’ll see the bees just buzzing from one flower to the next. The tree comes to life with their movements. Pretty neat to see. They had been seeking nourishment from our Boxwood and Rosemary bushes so sure they are enjoying this today, especially with the sun out and temperatures in the upper 80s and then low 90s around 4:30p.

We also had this creature buzzing around so I snapped some shots of it though it was up high and since I’m only 5’1″, I had a hard time getting a close shot. Mark thinks it may have been a bumblebee. All I know is that it was a giant next to our little bees.

Redbud Bumblebee

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