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Archive for May, 2009

New York bee swarm

Well, apparently the Associated Press isn’t educating their video reporters on bee topics any better than New York public schools are teaching their kids. This report on a bee swarm, which says that employees at a video store were “trapped” in the shop for hours because of a swarm shows a complete lack of understanding about swarm dynamics. Bees don’t sting very often, and they really don’t sting when swarming. So the video unfortunately feeds into the general ignorance about bees in NYC, where beekeeping is inexplicably illegal.

Here’s a link to the video.

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Did a quick check of the two hives on the restaurant roof early this afternoon. Helen still has the smoker, so I suited up and checked them without it. Not always advisable! But although they were a little annoyed, no bees stung me.

To distinguish among the hives this year, as we will soon have four, I’m going to call the ones that are on the roof now South2 and South. We have two hive stands that each hold two hives, one that my friend Joe built last year, and one that Helen’s husband Mike and others made this year.

Diagram of our stands

Diagram of our stands

First, an update on the splitting. It was pretty simple. I made sure the two empty hives had enough frames and constructed hangers out of copper wire for the queen cages.  (Queen cages that come in packages tend to have strips of metal attached, but that’s not always the case when the queens come separately.) Without something to hold a cage between two frames, it may slip down into the hive and the queen may not be released.

I may have taken a few too many bees from South2, the north hive of the two, but otherwise everything went well.

Today, S2 seemed busy, if less populous than South. S2’s queen took longer to get out of her cage, and so I wasn’t surprised when I saw no brood in my quick check of the hive. (it can take a while before a new queen starts laying.) But I also didn’t check all the frames. South, however, whose queen was released earlier, already has some brood going.

They both are bringing in honey and pollen, and still eating sugar water. More later.

— Slim

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Helen installing one of our packages of bees.

Helen installing one of our packages of bees.

Well, we’re back in the bee business, so to speak. Sorry for the delay–not that I have too many people reading this, given the paucity of posts in recent months. But I was finishing the index for my book at the same time as I was getting the hives set up.

We got the packages on Saturday, May 9, and installed them a couple days later. There was a complication, in that the supplier had sent us two queenless packages. Perhaps I could have waited a couple days to install the queenless packages, or asked for full replacements. But what we ended up doing on the spur of the moment was combining the queenless packages, getting new queens from the supplier and then splitting the two hives.

Splitting the hives meant that we had to put them somewhere else, other than the rooftop where the two earlier hives are. So Helen’s taken them to her house temporarily, and they’re doing fine there.

The initial installation went well otherwise. Helen and her intern Allie had all the equipment set up beforehand, largely. (I’d cleaned out the hives and set aside several frames that had gotten moldy in one of the hives. Bad beekeeper! We replaced them with some new frames that Allie and a group of volunteers had made in a workshop a few days before.)

So, more to come. But wanted to update this and get things started for the spring.

Oh, and by the way, the new bees have Russian queens, and appear to be pretty Russian themselves. When I split the hives, I found them even more docile and easy to work than the Carniolans.

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