Posts Tagged ‘Steve Wall’

Two weeks ago a strong wind knocked over one of the (empty)  rainbarrels and it rolled into Hive #1. The colony had successfully made it through the winter, and the queen was laying, comb was being built.  After the storm, I noticed that a huge cloud of bees were hovering around the hive.  Something had to be wrong.  I geared up, smoked the bees and went in to see what was the matter.  Two of the fresh combs had been knocked loose and were laying on the bottom.  No wonder the bees were so upset!  I took the combs out, brushed off the bees, closed up the hive and reattached them to the bars. The next day I replaced them and hoped all would be OK.  A week later I went in to see how things were going and looked for the queen…. couldn’t find her.  About 5 days later, I checked on the hive…. still no queen.  I also noticed that there were larva and a lot of capped brood, but no new eggs. Something definately  happened to the queen….perhaps she was injured from the accident. I also noticed three big queen cells that they had built.

Queen Cell

They look like a large peanut shell, and one of them was capped.  The workers had decided to make a new queen. It takes about 16 days for a queen to develop from an egg to an adult.   A queen bee is fed exclusively with “royal Jelly”, a nutrient rich milky substance produced by young worker bees.  Once the larva is fully grown, it spins a cocoon, the workers cap off the cell and she undergoes metamorphosis. 7 days later she emerges. The first thing a virgin queen does is to find any other developing queens and kill them.  Then she flies out and mates with up to a dozen male drone bees, returning to the hive, and there to remain for the rest of her life…

I talked with my bee mentor Steve Wall, and he said to leave the hive alone for three weeks so that the new queen can establish herself with the colony.   So… I will wait.  I’ll report back then to let you know how the colony is doing.  If she mated successfully, I will see evidence of new larvae.  If not, I will have to acquire a new queen.  This will be interesting!

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Got a call yesterday from Steve Wall, a local beekeeper, teacher and mentor that the nuc that I had ordered was ready.  I put the hive in the back seat of the car and drove to his place where he transferred the combs from one of his small keeper hives into my large topbar hive.  As he did this we checked to see how the queen was doing and if she was laying well. The colony was amazingly calm and he reassured me that they were very docile.   All was good and we lifted the hive into the car and I drove home.  After setting up the hive in the yard, I sat as the sun began to set and waited to see what would happen.  After about 15 minutes about a half a dozen bees emerged and inspected every part of the hive from the outside.  They were checking out their new digs, for sure!  I waited until I saw them return for the night.  It was certainly easier than I had expected.

The next morning, after it had warmed up a bit, I went out to see how “the girls” were doing.  They were flying in out of the hive as if they had always been there.  Taking my smoker, I gave the opening a few puffs of smoke, removed the top and another couple puffs along the bars.  I then lowered a bucket of sugar water filled with sticks into the hive behind the last comb. It’s a simple sugar solution made with 1 cup of cane sugar and 1 cup of water. It’s been very dry and so this will help them in their transition to their new home.  The sticks help them get in and out of the bucket without drowning ( they are lousy swimmers)  The bees paid no attention to me and this too, was reassuring.  I replaced the top and that was that!  I’ll check on them in 3 or 4 days to see how they are doing and then once a week after that. So finally, after preparing for this for over a year,  I’m now in bees-ness!

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