New bees

Well, it seems I haven’t posted here for a while. So I’ve decided to try this again.

New packages arrived a little more than a week ago and we installed them on Saturday.

Here are some photos.


Here’s a great graphic the Tribune apps team came up with, showing some information about bee-dependent crops.


More soon about how the hives are doing.

— Liam

Did a very quick check on the two hives today, as is recommended for new colonies. The bees are bringing in lots of honey and pollen and each of the two hives has drawn out about three frames of comb and is working on a fourth. Newly laid eggs were present in the one frame I checked closely in each hive. The north hive has a much darker-colored queen than the south hive, and I saw her. Tried to take a photo, but the problem with doing that with an iPhone when you have a bee bonnet on is that it’s hard to make sure of the focus. So you’ll have to do without a photo of her for this week. Here’s a photo of the fourth frame of comb, though:

Bees in our north hive are drawing out their fourth frame of comb in a week.

Bees in our north hive are drawing out their fourth frame of comb in a week.

The two hives have been sucking down sugar syrup quickly. I haven’t done a full check yet, but this morning, despite the threat of rain, I had to go in to make sure the queens were out of the cages. When we installed them, the attendant bees had already done a good job of eating away much of the candy, but I poked a hole in each cage’s piece to make sure they could get out. They’d been in with the bees for almost a week in the packages, so I figured the bees would have already accepted their queenship. It was striking how different they looked. A smaller, darker queen in one cage, a visibly larger, more Italian-looking queen in the other. Today, both queens were out of the cages, and the bees have been doing a lot of comb-building. So I got the cages out and left them alone. We’ll see how they are, and If the queens are laying, at the end of the week.

— Liam

Starting again

Well, we had Colony Collapse this winter, so we started anew today. We tried to order northern-bred bees, but the shipments were cancelled because the cold spring killed half of the supplier’s first shipment. It’s been a busy winter for me, for personal reasons, but we were able to get two hives in shape enough to install two packages from an alternate supplier today. I’ll try to keep up the blog this year. as things move along.


Hive hot, missed a swarm

Rainy week last week kept me out of the hive. Today, hot day, bees were happy though. The queen is laying profusely, 10 or 11 full frames of brood. She’s moving between the two hive bodies still, but there was a lot more room on the lower, so we did a reverse of the hive bodies. Added a super. More details later.

On an unrelated note, got an email about a swarm in Winnetka, but after almost dropping everything to go catch them, learned they were about 20 feet up a tree. Too high for me today, I’m afraid. Hope someone gets them.


I haven’t been keeping up this blog recently, but have decided to start up again this summer. We lost both our colonies this winter, but the new hive is doing well. I’ll write more about that soon.

For now, here’s some fresh Illinois bee news. The harsh winter led to high losses here, and that has pumpkin, raspberry and apple farmers scrambling, according to this Associated Press report.