Posts Tagged ‘urban beekeeping’

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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It’s been too long since I posted, but I’m busy on my big writing project.

Suffice it to say that since Ann and I came back from vacation, we’ve had a couple nail-biting weeks with South, and continued burgeoning success with North.

I checked the hives quickly the week of July 27 and on Aug. 2. At first, it looked like our new queen was starting to lay, then it looked like she might not be. Last week, after an Aug. 8 check turned up little brood, we added a frame of brood and eggs to South from North, which has consistently had 12 to 16 frames of brood and eggs in recent weeks. I was worried in case QE II might not be getting accepted–or even worse, if I might have squashed her accidentally in one of my quick checks.

But last Friday, everything was good in South.  We saw some capped brood, some developing brood, and a couple frames of newly laid eggs. Altogether, about four frames of developing bees. South still looks like they most likely will not give us honey this year, but they’re doing well again, thank heavens.  And they have plenty of stored honey and pollen. And North looks like they may give up two full supers, not just one!

We’ve also had more visitors, and questions from other people about visiting, including a visit for a full check Aug. 8 by a woman named Claudia who used to help her family keep bees when she was a young girl. Quite heartwarming. 

More when I get a chance.

A photo of Helen and one of our visitors:

Helen and Claudia. Claudia's family raised bees when she was a child.

Helen and Claudia. Claudia


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Bee musings

Keeping bees on a roof has many challenges. My friend Joe helped enormously when he designed and built our excellent, heavy hive stands. (Below) With some chair straps to keep the hives secure, so far they haven’t moved an inch, despite thunderstorms with 70-mile-an-hour gusts. I continue to worry a bit about how well these Slovenian ladies are tolerating the heat. But so far, they seem to do pretty well. The roof is not monstrously hot, as it’s silver rather than black. And although they sometimes hang out outside the hive, largely on South, that seems to be more an issue of perceived overcrowding (you have another whole story, ladies! Use it) rather than overheating. I don’t think the temperatures–it’s gotten close to 90 sometimes here in Chicago already this year–have thrown for a loop yet. And as you can see from the picture, I’ve also given them a water dish designed for dogs that feeds them fresh water as fast as they can drink it. (I put some concrete and rocks in the dish so they won’t drown.)The hive stands

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