After my last entry,(” Warm Spell” ) we did indeed have another cold spell with snow. Ah… Spring! It’s now getting warmer and nights aren’t as cold; temp today got up to 60 degrees but will drop down into the low thirties. Such changes in the weather pose a challenge to the honeybees, but they have adapted to our climate here and hopefully made it through OK.
I took advantage of the beautiful day to take a look inside and see for sure how they are doing. Hive #1. This is the one that replaced their queen themselves…so she is now a “local”. I was a small colony going into winter but I left them plenty of honey. I was excited to see her alive and well and beginning to lay.
In this photo I circled the queen and put in an arrow showing a developing larva. The brown capped brood cells are the pupating larvae…they will hatch out in a few days and little by little the colony will expand.
I also took the opportunity to put in a feeding bowl for them. Even though there is still plenty of honey in the combs, I feel a little extra food wouldn’t hurt. I mixed up 2 cups water with 1 cup sugar and put it in a 1 quart baggie in a plastic food container. Then I pricked the surface with a pin. This will allow the sugar solution to ooze out in little drops on the surface of the baggie. The bees can lap up the sugar water and they won’t drown as they would if I just put the liquid in the bowl.
The second hive looked just as strong. There was still some extra uneaten honey so I took one of the combs out… all the better, as I have just finished eating the honey collected last fall.
So….. all is good with the honeybees for now. We will no doubt get some more cold weather and even a stray snow storm yet, but Spring is definitely on its way. As it continues to warm up, and trees and flowers begin to flower the queen will increase egg production and the hive will really start to hum!
Posted in Bees in winter, feeding honeybees, Harvesting honey, queen bees | Tagged feeding honeybees, honeybee larvae, honeybees in late winter, queen bee, Spring inspection | 1 Comment »
A new year…. a new bee season.
The rare Rocky Mountain snow chicken made an appearance in January. Haha!
It’s the second week of February and the temperatures have been in the 50’s and 60’s. Is winter over? It’s hard to tell. It’s much too early but this sure feels more like mid March. Winter was cold, temperatures got down in the single digits at times, good snowfall ( 103 inches up at the Santa Fe ski basin) for skiing and making some fun snow sculptures.
It seemed to go by quickly. But I digress. I checked out the two hives today . With reports of another cold spell coming in soon I didn’t want to open the hive. The bees have it all sealed up and I figure it’s too early to start nosing about in the combs. I’ll wait a week or two yet before looking inside. I saw a lot of activity at both hives and upon closer inspection I saw bees coming in with pollen! Wow…. where is that coming from? It’s very pale yellow… almost cream colored. That tells me that it may likely be Chinese Elm. Hmm.
Entrance to the hive
It’s amazing how they can find this at a time when almost everything else is still
Closeup of bee bringing pollen back to the hive
dormant. In any case, this is a good sign, as that means there is brood activity inside the hive. I really don’t know how much honey is remaining in the hive for the bees.
I’ll check in a week or so and if the combs are low, I’ll feed them sugar water.
Posted in Bees in winter, general | 5 Comments »
Today I took my camera to the hive to see if the new queen would pose for her royal portrait. She wouldn’t stay still for long, so I had to photograph her as she quickly traveled across the comb, looking for just the right cells in which to lay her eggs. I finally located her and she is a beauty! Can you find her? I’ll give you a hint…. her body is longer than the worker and definitely more slender than the big drones. Scroll down a bit to see where she is. All is good!
Posted in general, queen bees, Rearing new queens | Tagged queen bee | 2 Comments »
Bee larvae from new queen.
It has been two weeks since the new queen emerged and today I not only got to see her ( so young and beautiful) but I saw all the new larvae she has produced. That means her mating flight was successful and she is now mistress of her domain. If you look carefully in the center cells, you will be able to see the very young larvae swimming in royal jelly. They are fed this for only about 3 days and then they are given only pollen and honey. The royal jelly gets them off to a good start, but they don’t get enough of it to develop their reproductive organs so they will be sterile when they emerge. ( Larvae destined to be queens will be fed royal jelly throughout their entire larvae stage and therefore have fully developed ovaries ) Now the hive is busy producing comb, honey and of course more bees. Hail to the Queen!
Posted in queen bees, Queen Rearing, Rearing new queens | Tagged Bee larvae, queen bee, royal jelly | 3 Comments »
Here’s the story. Earlier this year I ordered a new queen to be delivered in June( from BeeWeaver in Texas) thinking that my old queen, now in her third year, would be replaced by her worker bees, sensing that her time was coming to an end. The colony wasn’t large enough to swarm so the “mail order bride” was to be a backup if the colony wasn’t successful in making a new queen by itself. Well, in May, the old queen kicked into high gear and began laying up a storm and the colony went in to full production mode…. lots of new brood, comb and honey. Then the new queen arrived . USPS. So…. I took the old queen and 5 combs of brood and honey and transferred them to an empty hive. I then lowered the newly arrived queen into the old hive in her transport cage. It takes about 2-3 days for the workers to release her from her quarters, and by then her odor has permeated the hive and they will accept her as their queen. Three days later I opened the hive but could not find the queen. Nowhere. Not only that, I did not see any evidence of newly laid eggs. I waited another three days and went in to look. Still no queen. But I did see a number of queen cells and when I looked into them each one had a small larva swimming around in royal jelly; evidence that the colony was creating a new queen by itself. For one reason or another, the workers were not satisfied with their Texan Queen so they took her eggs, placed them into queen cells and began to raise one by themselves. And the queen? She either died or was killed off by the workers. (probably the latter) After a week I saw that they had successfully reared the larva and capped it off. ( You can see the queen cell in the photo below…. it looks like a large peanut. ) There were actually three of these on the comb in various places. A couple days ago I checked in on them and the queens had hatched as evidenced by the fact that they cells were empty. The first queen to emerge went around and killed off the others that were still in their cells. After a couple days she will be escorted out of her hive by a group of workers for her “nuptial flight”, taken to a tree or area where lots of male drones hang out for the day, mate with 6 – 12 different males and then return to the hive. If all goes well, in about a couple weeks I should notice newly laid eggs and tiny larva once again.
Stay tuned for the next installment!
Posted in queen bees, Queen Rearing | Tagged queen bee, requeening | 7 Comments »
Late winter flight
Today the temperature got up to 57 degrees, the snow and ice began melting faster and faster, the ground got all mushy and the bees took flight! This is the first time I had seen any activity in the hive all winter. Honeybees will not venture out if the temperature is below 50 degrees, so they were very happy today! I could tell they were cleaning up the hive, pushing out dead bees and other detritus. It’s still too early to open up the hive, but just seeing so many of them buzzing about made me feel good. Hopefully there is still plenty of honey stored in the combs, as we have a lot more cold weather to go. Just the same, it’s nice to see them. Think Spring!
Posted in Bees in winter | 6 Comments »
My friend Jannine brought me a jar of her crystallized honey for the holidays. It is so good! It got me to do a bit of research on why some honey crystallizes and some doesn’t. First of all, it does not mean that it has “gone bad”. Honey has a very low moisture content which deters bacteria and yeast, so it rarely if ever spoils. It turns out that the main reason honey will crystallize is due to the proportion of fructose and glucose, the two main sugars in honey. And this comes from the source of the honey. Honey that is high in glucose ( and lower in fructose ) will have a tendency to crystallize sooner than the honey that is lower in glucose ( and higher in fructose). Honey that comes from nectar from apple, goldenrod, sunflower, alfalfa, dandelion, mesquite and chamisa is high in glucose and will crystallize more than honey derived from the nectar of locust, sage milkweed, poplar, borage and buckwheat, which has a high fructose concentration. Many people like the crystallized honey as it is easier to spread on toast and seems to have a milder flavor. If your honey has crystallized, it’s perfectly safe to eat. And if you’d like to turn it back into liquid form, just put it in a pan of hot ( not boiling ) water for a few minutes. Enjoy!
If you want to learn even more about crystallization of honey, here is a good link: http://www.montcobeekeepers.org/Documents/Honey_Crystallization.pdf
Posted in general, Honey | Tagged crystallized honey | 1 Comment »