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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

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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

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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

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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.
–Liam

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Back

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.

–Liam

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Via @BestBeekeeper: Epicurious has a feature about a biking beekeeper here in Chicago, Jana Kinsman, that’s worth a look. Another beekeeper inspired by news of Colony Collapse Disorder.

With the warm winter, we might see some early swarms, so here’s the Chicago Honey Co-op’s page on swarm removal. They list a few folks who are available to grab swarms in the Chicago area.

— Slim

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Bees unleashed

On Wednesday Dave and I unwrapped the hives, and they’re doing quite well. Of the two viable hives, one is Italian, the other Minnesota Hygenic. The Italian hive was very happy, almost no challenges and hardly paid any attention to us. The Mn Hygenic were kind of testy. Both had a good number of frames of brood, and at least two each of frames of newly laid eggs. Both had eaten a good bit of the pollen patties and have been bringing in a lot of nectar, each had several frames of new honey. There populations seem good but there were no signs of swarm cells, thankfully, and each has a number of empty frames, some of which I rearranged, including switching the top and bottom brood boxes in the Italian hive, to give the queen more laying room.

— Slim

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