Not a good Bee Mama, I guess

On June 1, my friend and I did a hive inspection. One hive had a virgin queen, one was queenless, 1 had a queen that died of shock while she was being marked, and 1 was truly Queenright. We hoped the virgin queen would make her mating flight and return to provide brood, shifted a couple of frames of brood around to queenless hives with queen cells on them, and waited to see results. Yesterday, I went to inspect them alone. Three hives have no eggs, no larvae, two with good population, the third not so good, the 4th hive thriving with a marked queen. A message was sent to Son2, the bee owner, but didn’t hear back from him. Messaged my friend and posted on the local bee keeper’s forum and it was suggested to shift frames again, look for queen cells, wait and hope they make new queens.

Another inspection with intervention will occur this week, maybe tomorrow before the heat dome returns to cook us. I feel bad that this has happened, but am at a loss as to a solution. We may have to reintroduce new queens to the three hives and hope for success. Three of the hives are or have been making honey and the honey supers on those hives are heavy.

I fear that the weakest hive has a worker layer as there are lots of drone cells in that hive and that is not sustainable.

Unfortunately, the beginner beekeeper class occurred before I knew there would be hives here, so I missed it this year. A couple of the keepers offered to come put another set of eyes on the situation, but today is Father’s Day and other plans had already been put in place.

Son2 is due here this week at the end of their vacation, I hope he has time to inspect while he is here and can offer guidance.

Bee Downer and hope

The babies are all feathered out on the front porch, but as of this morning, still have not fledged. I haven’t checked tonight, I’m spent.

Today, my spinning friend and local bee mentor came over to help me inspect hives and mark queens. There were 4 overwintered queens, 1 in each nuk when we installed them. Four queens or evidence of them about 3 or 4 weeks ago when we inspected. Today was a different story. The first hive installed and the first inspected today had a lot of bees, brood, eggs a few days old, larva, and the only queen found was a virgin queen. Hopefully she will make her mating run, return safely and continue to build that hive, but it means we probably have already had a swarm that we didn’t catch. The second hive had larva and brood, but no eggs, no queen, and several queen cells. The population of that hive wasn’t as strong either. The third hive was very active, eggs, larva, brood, and honey being capped, but we caught the queen, she was active in the catcher, marked, and she never perked back up. The workers tended to her, but we don’t think she will make it, so we took a frame with queen cells on it about to open and took a frame from that hive, hoping they will nurture a new queen and she will also take a mating flight and return. Hive 4 was strong and so many bees, brood, eggs, and larva and the most gorgeous golden queen who we marked and put back in her hive. They have filled several frames in the honey super full already. We stole one of their frames of brood, eggs, and larva for the second hive. Another inspection will be done next week to see the status, and I hope it isn’t as hot that day. I don’t handle heat well and ended up having to sit in the shade while my friend finished hive 3 and started hive 4. Once back up to the house, we sat, discussed the situation over glasses of iced tea. In another hour, when it has darkened and cooled down some, she suggested I reinstall the reducers to help deter thievery. We are hopeful that today’s efforts will provide viable queens before the hives die off. It was brutal, 85 f, no shade, and lots of sweat. I didn’t wear the bee jacket, just a veil, jeans, long sleeves, and the long gloves from the jacket. I can’t imagine working the hives in the jacket on a day as hot as today.

I knew this project would be both disappointing and rewarding and some days it is both. I am thankful to my friend that is more than willing to come work with me as I learn. I only wish that I had had the energy to go help her after we were done as she headed home to get in her bee yard which does have some shade, but also more than 3 times as many hives.

Last night, we went into town to get a pizza to eat on their patio and purchased a pot of flowers. A couple of decades ago, my Dad built me a wooden wheelbarrow to use decoratively. It needed repair so that was done earlier yesterday and some houseplants and a hanging petunia that hubby gave me for Mother’s Day were installed in the wheelbarrow on the front porch. The new flowers added to the front for more color. (not in the photo taken earlier)

On our way home last evening, we had a severe pop up thunderstorm that took the new umbrella off the porch and broke it, but we saw our first rainbow of the year, actually a full arc and for a while, a double.

Faint double

Just before we left to go into town, I let Miss Broody out of isolation. She had spent 3 days and 3 nights in the Chicken palace with food, water, and a ladder to perch on, but no nesting boxes. That seems to have broken her. Though she is still walking around slightly puffed out and clucking, she isn’t avoiding me and hasn’t gone back to the nest, even last night. This New Hampshire red was out when I went to lock the hens in last night and she wouldn’t enter the run with me in there. First she flew to the top of the gate, then to the top of the coop.

Not a weather vane.

Once I left the run, she came down and went into the coop, silly bird.

Ups and Downs

What a week, a week of ups and downs. The loss of a friend and a renewed friendship. An unexpected brief visit by Son 2 and family and an equally unexpected cancellation of a long weekend with Son 1 to celebrate his birthday.

The day my friend in Tennessee passed, Son 2 called and said he and his family would be in late the next evening to prep and then leave in their RV that lives here between trips. They arrived in pouring rain in two cars, he and his eldest son first to get the generator going while I dragged garden hoses from the back of the house and connected to the one at the yard hydrant to fill the water tank. They spent the night in the RV after loading it up, visited the next morning and left for a family vacation.

A couple weeks ago, a received a message and called a friend of 4 decades. When we both had young children and lived in Virginia Beach we were fast friends. Her husband’s job took them away from the area, then returned them to the area and we picked up where we left off. Then they moved again for his job and then back again only to be moved yet again. During that station, they were planning to return back to Florida where they were both from and we kept in touch with cards and letters mostly. I did take our children down one summer for a week, then when they were planning their move back to Florida, she went to see how their house construction was going and invited me down to spend a few days with her, just the two women. Our daughter was living less than an hour away from her and they both met me at the airport, spent a couple days with both of them at her little house where she was staying and then just the two of us. That was about 20 years ago. The message was to call if I could and we talked on the phone. She was driving north to a family event (her husband needed to fly later) and she wanted to meet up with me. I finally convinced her to stay here overnight and we had a delightful visit, again catching up and picking up where we left off. She arrived just a few hours after Son 2 and family left.

This whole week has been a steady rainstorm, about 3-4 inches of rain has fallen this week. When we could catch a break in the rain we would dash out for a quick walk.

Son 1 was due in last night to spend the celebratory weekend, but he found out yesterday morning that he may have been exposed to Covid and did not want to potentially contaminate a train car or his Dad and me, so he had to cancel and reschedule in about a month. This was disappointing to all of us. He was looking forward to coming, I was looking forward to pampering him with no chores and lots of good food.

All of the ups and downs caused the days of the week to blend together and I lost track. We were out taking a walk yesterday when I got a text asking if our spinning trio was getting together, I had totally forgotten it was Thursday.

Box turtle from yesterday’s walk

A text exchange between our trio ended with me being dropped off at my bee mentor’s house to spin for a couple hours, the third member deciding to skip. It was just what was needed to boost my spirits.

This morning, the sun is shining, at least for a little while. This hen has been sitting on this empty nest for nearly a month hoping to have babies. An impossibility as there is no rooster here and I don’t leave eggs under her, but she is persistent and very evil about being removed from the nest.

Brooding takes 21-22 days, so I had hoped she would get over it early in the week, but nope. She still sits, puffed up, growling, and pecking at me if I try to move her.

There are 5 baby Wrens feathering out on the front porch. They will fledge in another week or so.

The Bumblebees and our honey bees love the blooming Comfrey plants.

Early in the week, we replaced the back porch umbrella finally after two years without. I love sitting out there with my morning breakfast, but only when there is an umbrella. It hasn’t gotten much use this week because of the rain, but it only took one day to realize that the small round table back there wasn’t large enough for it, so I moved it to the front porch for the succulent pots and the square table that is only 11″ larger to the back for enjoying the back deck.

When the storms stop, it will be a nice place to have breakfast or dinner to enjoy the view and nice days.

It has been quite a week. Now we are alone again in our house, hoping Son 1 doesn’t get ill and being a bit irritated for him that his co worker was not responsible about letting people know and staying masked or staying home with her sick family member. Hopefully the co worker doesn’t get ill either.