Spring Fevah

March 27, 2007

2007-03-Alyssa Bees 0027.jpgAlyssa and Pmatt came by last weekend for Alyssa’s free introductory Intro to Beekeeping class, taught by yours truly, Professor Stungstein.  It was a good opportunity for me to get off my lazy arse and check the hive for real.  Nothing too alarming, a small pile of moldering death off to one side, but my big worry was the laying pattern.  It was pretty spotty and there were lots of drone cells interspersed.  Pmatt got a nice picture of the queen (with the white dot on her back) amidst this spotty brood, which I share with you below:

Hive Mind Hive 2 Queen   Hive Mind Hive 2 Queen

I’ve posted these pictures to the Organic Beekeeper’s mailing list and asked for advice.  Worst case, I’m going to have to replace the queen, which always skeeves me out.  I slap mosquitoes with abandon, but for some reason, hunting down a queen and executing her for the crime of insufficient reproductive activity seems barbaric. Isn’t there some sort of queen bee pasture I can put her out to, a low-light basement job she can be re-assigned to in her autumn days? 

I took advantage of a burst of enthusiasm this last weekend to stock up on equipment, too.  I ordered the following items from Betterbee, who seemed to have better prices than Beez Neez:

  • One (1) pair child’s gloves
  • One (1) pair small gloves
  • One (1) full premium beekeeping suit (at right)
  • One (1) zippered jacket pullover
  • One frame clamp

The gloves are for Michelle.  Not sure which will fit better, the smalls or the child size (she’s but a wee lass), I figure whichever she doesn’t use, a guest will take advantage of.  The premium bee suit is because I’m tired of that sickening buzz from inside the suit when the girls crawl through the gaps in my “California Department of Corrections” jumpsuit (plus, it’s dark brown, which the bees find more antagonizing then white).  The pullover is for guests (doesn’t seem very host-like to leave guests exposed while I’m suited up) and the frame clamp makes it easier to pull the frames out.

Finally, I put in an order to Beez Neez for a new colony, to replace the late, great Hive 1.  While I had the new owner on the phone, I took advantage of the opportunity to chat him up and got some questions answered.  Here’s what I learned:

  • Yes, I should be feeding Hive 2 sugar syrup now.  We’ll have a bit of a honey flow when the maples bloom, then nothing major until the blackberries in July, and by then, you really want them to be well-established, so blackberry season is all profit.  I should be feeding them whenever there isn’t a strong flow, or there is bad weather.
  • Yes, it’s OK to put some of the unripe frames from last year back on top, I should just smell for fermentation before doing so.  It’s OK to give them slightly fermented honey, just a few frames at a time though, and not doing poor weather, as it makes them “loose”.  I wasn’t quite sure whether he meant he meant it gave them “mead goggles” or the squirts, and I couldn’t bring myself to ask, but either way, sounds like a bad thing.
  • He gave me the name of someone who I can contact about harvesting my unextracted frames of honey from last year.

He’ll be driving down to California to pick up my new colony on April 9th, returning April 11th. I’m all in a tizzy, like an expectant father.

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