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This week’s hive check

This week, I checked the bees much later in the day than usual. But because it’s the height of long days–and it’s warm and sunny today–the hives had clouds of bees returning from foraging still.

Both queens are laying well. The farm manager says the north hive has been very busy, but the south hive has more brood and honey. They’ve filled six of 10 frames, so I’ll be adding a hive body next week. The other hive has only started on the sixth frame. Both queens seem to have been laying today, but I have yet to spot either one. Partly that’s because I haven’t wanted to disturb them that much, as they still are establishing. Partly it’s because two of the three prior checks had to be on less-than-optimal days and the bees were a little testy. Today was better weather, and more bees were still out or returning laden with nectar.

I’ll add more later tonight.

— Liam

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Hives doing well so far

Bees are doing well. Checked Sunday, didn’t see queens, but after a couple weeks, both hives have lots of brood and are taking in lots of both nectar and pollen. The north hive, green, is slightly weaker. The photos are from the South purple & yellow hive, which is stronger.

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.

http://apps.chicagotribune.com/news/national/beefood/

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.

–Liam