Posts Tagged ‘Honeybee Genetics’

Two weeks after I noticed capped queen cups in hive #1, I went back in to see if their  attempt at requeening was successful. Alas…. no sign of a queen and there was absolutely no sign of any eggs in the cells.  All the brood that had been developing had hatched out, and there was no evidence of egg laying.  But the workers were still busy doing what bees do…. the newly hatched bees ( from the former queen) were making comb and the foragers were still bringing in nectar and pollen. And the drones were just hanging about, as usual.  Without a queen replacing the bees that die, a colony will slowly dissipate.  I consulted my manuals and talked with some other fellow beekeepers and got varying answers as to how long a colony would last without a queen….anywhere from 4 – 8 weeks.  I had to do something. I contacted my bee supplier, “Honeybee Genetics” out of California and they had a fertile queen in stock…. for $24.95.  And then extra for shipping . Hah….That is one expensive insect!  I ordered it and it will arrive next Friday (June 8).  But there is still a chance that I did not see the new queen in the hive.  It takes two weeks for a newly hatched queen to mate and then start laying eggs.  So….. before I add the new queen to the hive next week, I’ll check to see if there is evidence of a queen.  If I add the queen that I bought to a hive with an established queen in it, then the workers will immediately kill her…. and I’ll lose my investment. Ouch! That would sting. ( pun intended)    The bee drama continues.

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Back in February I ordered a 4 lb package of honeybees with queen for my second hive.  I had built it two years ago but only got one going last year, so it has been sitting empty in the yard.  Well, they arrived today…. all 14,000 or so of them!  ( no, I didn’t count them all…. I’m going to take their word for it )  They are “Russian Carnolian” honeybees from a company in California called “Honeybee Genetics”  According to them, the bees are a “gentle gray black bee resistant to mites. They overwinter well and build up fast in the spring”.   I had gone in with a number of other beekeepers on the order, and got a group shipping discount.  By late afternoon, I was ready to install them in their new home.  The first thing I did was to get a fresh comb from my first hive to put in the empty new hive to give the bees something to start off with.   I picked out a beautiful comb filled with some capped honey at the top and pollen scattered throughout.   The box of bees comes with a can of sugar water to keep them fed during the trip.  The queen is in a small cage.  So I removed the can ( it was almost empty ) and then took out the queen bee in her cage and checked to see that she was OK. I quickly closed up the hole in the box to keep the bees in.  Then I removed the plastic cap from the sugar tube  and hung the queen cage from one of the top bars next to the comb.  The idea is that the workers will eat through the sugar on the way to get to the queen.  It will take about three days.  By then, the workers will have accepted her.  When she gets out , she will begin to lay eggs and the colony will begin to grow. So far, so good. I took a deep breath then grabbed the box of bees, turned it upside down and shook out all the bees into the hive.  A few remained in the box, so I set it on the ground, put the remaining bars on top of the hive, covered it and watched as all the bees that were buzzing around the hive  flew right in to their new home.  Within 15 minutes they were all inside. Amazing!  I was pleased that it all went so smoothly, they seemed to be OK with their new digs and I didn’t even get stung.

I will leave them alone for 5 days ( I put a container of sugar water in the hive box for them to drink while they are getting their bearings ) then go in and check on them.  If all goes well, the queen will be out of her cage ( I’ll remove it from the hive)  and will be laying eggs in the new comb.  Stay tuned!

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After getting your beehive, getting the bees is the next step.   There may be local beekeepers that will sell some of their bees. Usually they don’t have many extra, so they sell out quickly.  I ordered some from a local beekeeper that sells honey at the farmer’s market, and he will have them for me in May; five combs of bees with a young healthy queen.  That will get me started.  But they also come with a top-bar hive, which means I now have two hives!  I want to get local bees, so I inquired from a beekkeeper north of Santa Fe; Zia Queen Bee.  I’ll let you know if that works out.

The second option is to order bees from a commercial apiary.  There are two large operations that folks in this area order from: HoneyBee Genetics out of California and Bee Weaver, out of Texas. Check out these two websites…..they are filled with information…and one could spend hours reading about bees and beekeeping.  If I can’t get any bees locally, then that will be the way to go.  The problem is that while the cost of the bees is comparable with the local bees, the shipping costs are very high, more than the cost of a single nuc.  So now I am trying to find local beekeepers who will go in with me and share the cost of shipping.

So now we just wait and see.

While waiting, watch this really good video about sustainable beekeeping: Saving the Honeybee: Hour of Decision

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