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.

3 thoughts on “Bee Downer and hope”

  1. Working in a bee suit in those temperatures is not fun…things to consider – there is no rule that dictates you must do all of the hives. Sometimes I simply go out and do one, make some notes and finish up, go out the following day and do another etc. I try not to work the hives in the afternoon at all, it’s simply too hot. There is never anything that has to be done that can’t wait a few days, the bees carry on whether you interfere or not. A few days to come back and move a frame of brood will not matter. Don’t panic about a hive dying off – I had one hive queenless for well over a month, in the end they figured it out. Come fall you can combine your weaker hives, your mentor will know how.
    I never marked my queens. They either have one or they don’t. If they don’t they will raise one. If you see no eggs of course give them some, but bees have been raising themselves for a long time.
    You don’t want to feel this is a ‘chore’, or ‘work’, you will get discouraged.
    Happy to hear they are filling a super!

    1. I’m inclined to inspect one a day, but when I had help, we tackled all 4. She is 14 years younger than me and handles the heat better, also better at queen spotting. She felt terrible about the one queen, but like you said, they have been doing this without our help for a long time. I’m sure it will work out. She did teach me to make notes on the metal tops with a grease pencil, so my senior brain doesn’t have to remember what was done when and where. I will check for new eggs in each hive in a week or so. Next week isn’t as hot and I will do one a day. If they will that super, I will add another and at the end of summer, share their honey with the less productive hives so they all have plenty for their first winter here.

      1. Excellent plan 🙂. On occasion when my hubby comes outs with me, he uses my phone to take pictures of anything I ask – once I have a moment back in the house I can carefully look and get a better idea of what’s going on. I get him to snap something random between hives so I can keep track of what picture belong to what hive.

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