This was the perfect activity for sitting on the the beach. The kit was a gift from my dear friends, Josh & Liz Craig. Now to decide how to frame & where to hang it!
Category: bee stylish
Since I love the show Glee a little more than it probably deserves, this is just too perfect. The episode I watched last night opens with Lea Michele wearing a dress covered in bees. The sleeves & neckline make her look like a linebacker, and the bee pattern is the only redeeming quality of this otherwise ugly dress that my least favorite character is wearing.
The reason it is so perfect is because what did I encounter during our inspection yesterday?! None other than a SINGING QUEEN BEE.
And oh yes, we caught it on the inspection recording.
As cray-cray as this is (you see what watching Glee has done to my vocabulary), it’s not actually the best of signs for the state of my hive. I’m going to keep reading but so far all I have been able to do is confirm what I had learned in ENT401: that piping is something virgin queens do when they are either inside their cell just about to emerge (technically a “quack”) or when they are wandering around the hive looking for another virgin to duel with (technically a “toot”). By the way they say it’s all in G# (maybe you can confirm this from the recording little brother)?
So they’ve either superceded or are preparing to swarm. Two weeks ago on F7 of the white box we saw a supercedure cell which was open and had royal jelly on the bottom. Since I didn’t look at the other brood box at that time, I can’t know if there were a lot more of these or if there were swarm cells too. It seems unlikely that they’re about to swarm given the extra space provided in the two supers and the time of year (but I’ve learned not to be surprised by anything that happens in a beehive so far). I could avoid this wondering and speculating by marking my queens. Doh!
During this inspection we looked in the teal box (only at frames 10, 5, 6, & 7) and 7 is where we spotted a piping queen. Each time she made the noise her wings would sort of flex. She really was just wandering around piping every so often. If I’m not mistaken I think I heard the piping coming from different boxes so probably more than one queen was doing it. But I don’t know for sure.
Good news is, we had one super basically full of capped honey except for the outside ends. Which should be about 30lbs of honey. Not a bad start! Hopefully the second super will fill out in the fall flow too.
Also a quick word about how the bees have been dealing with this heat – with highs over 100ºF the last few days the bees have probably been spending most of their time keeping the hive cool. They do this by devoting many foragers to water-gathering then by coordinating wing movement to evaporate the water until the hive reaches the preferred temp of 92-95ºF. As hot as it’s been, the wax is at risk of softening and brood will die if they get too hot. The heat is kind of a productivity-killer when it comes to honey.
One incredible upside: at the end of an inspection on a really hot day if you put your face up to the tops of the frames you can feel a cool breeze that smells faintly of honey and wood. It’s so magical.
SATURDAY’S INSPECTION AUDIO (6.30.12)
It is June 30th and we are gonna do the fastest inspection ever because it is supposed to be like 106ºF out here.
(Older super is still on top). Without pulling any frames I can tell it’s mostly capped honey – 7 full frames and 2 half frames.
It is so hot the boxes seem sort of soggy and are hard to pry apart.
Not a whole lot of progress in the newer super, still not completely built out but some progress shown.
Had a drone stuck in the queen excluders. That’s one of the drawbacks to using one – creates a little traffic jam.
Only 6 minutes into the inspection I hear a queen piping. Which is concerning because that usually means supercedure has occurred or swarming is about to occur (the former more likely based on hive conditions & time of year). You can hear it more closely at 07:02ish – 07:45ish and even better at 18:25-19:07ish, which I’ve clipped above for those who don’t want to suffer through the whole recording :)
Also saw a little wax moth silk on the queen excluder but no other sign of these pests.
We proceed to switch the two brood boxes. Which sends a large cloud of bees up into the air. Once a box is back on the bottom board the cloud almost immediately disappears smoke-monster-style (LOST).
F10 of the now-top box is mostly empty cells. No eggs. F7 is capped brood mixed with stored pollen. And then I can hear someone piping loud & clear. And then I spot her! So that’s probably not Gloria that I’m seeing. My understanding was that they do that when they’re newly emerged and looking for other virgin queens to kill (either by stinging them through the queen cell or by dueling with them). F6 is capped brood & stored pollen on both sides. No eggs. But also no swarm or supercedure cells. Mysterious…
Same story for F5 (?) capped brood, stored pollen again. I speculate that maybe all the supercedure cells are in the other box?
Special thanks to my beekeeping assistant, Jason. What a hunk.
Ey! Goddes mercy!” sayd our Hoste tho,
Now such a wyf I pray God keep me fro.
Lo, suche sleightes and subtilitees
In wommen be; for ay as busy as bees
Be thay us seely men for to desceyve,
And from a soth ever a lie thay weyve.
And by this Marchaundes tale it proveth wel.
– Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, 1386-1400
Well that’s not exactly the kind of busy I’ve been but you have to appreciate that since I’ve been “busy as a bee” I haven’t kept a good record of my bees. Here is what you’ve missed:
Saturday, April 21st it was pretty rainy, with a break just long enough for Jason & I to remove the newspaper from between the brood boxes and put in the couple of frames it was lacking from the package install (took them from the nuc). We only had time to peep a few frames since a storm was looming and the ladies were none too happy to have their roof removed. They were all staring at us. So we didn’t see any eggs but the queen cage was empty and there seemed to be a good population so I was happy enough with what I saw. We also pulled the little swarm nuc out of the yard since it had dwindled to only a handful of bees. I wonder where those little souls went in the hours after their home was stolen. We’ll never know! That left me with one frame of capped/uncapped honey to stick in the freezer in the house. Next to two half-gallons of Blue Bell.
Saturday, April 28th we cleaned out the garage and made a spot on top of the keg fridge for all the equipment that was SUPPOSED to be in the bee yard this season. What a sad reminder every time I pull into the garage! I can’t wait to see bees crawling all over the front of my chevron hive next year. If any swarm-minded bees are reading this: we have vacancy.
Sunday, April 29th we finally saw some glorious eggs in the hive! And bee babies (larva)! And a nice solid brood pattern! I say we’re back in the game now but still oh-so-behind. They had done almost nothing with the empty super on top which was disappointing (but eggs! at lease Gloria is doing her bit)! There wasn’t a whopping lot of bees in the bottom box but there were eggs both up and downstairs so we didn’t reverse the boxes. I guess I know better than to think the bees will build new comb when they have plenty of existing room – especially since I assumed the poplar flow was so grand that I didn’t need to stimulate them into wax production with 2:1 syrup. That was another dumb assumption. So later today I’m going to take a quick peek at that super which will likely show no progress and stick the feeder back on to see if that will get them to build it out. Next weekend we’ll do a more thorough inspection if we can steal an hour away from all the graduation festivities! My little sister is almost done with college. I can’t believe it.
[more hot bee swag! bee pendant from dear ol' Jen, I've worn it like 10 times already, and bee shorts from my Mom & Anthropologie. photos my own.]
4.29 INSPECTION AUDIO