Monthly Archives: April 2011

BeeSweet Lemonade

A friend of mine sent me this article from the the Westlake Picayune. Mikala Ulmer, a first-grader at Trinity Episcopal School in West Lake Hills, will be selling her special, award-winning lemonade Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. at a stand on the corner of Sixth Street and Lamar Boulevard.

Mikaila will donate 20 percent of the profits from her lemonade sales that day to the Texas Beekeeper’s Association to help save the honey bees. I’m going to try my best to get downtown to buy a cup.

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Prickly Pears in Bloom

The cacti are blooming in Austin right now, and the bees are loving it.

Prickly Pear in Bloom

The flowers are full of pollen, and the honey bees are taking advantage of it.

Honey Bee in Prickly Pear

The native bees really seem to enjoy these blooms the most. They really get down into the flower and get covered with pollen.

Native Bee in Prickly Pear

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Large Marge just keeps trucking along

I also checked Large Marge’s hive this weekend, and I think it is going to be the last inspection for a few weeks. Her hive has been so big and vigorous, I just figured it was going to swarm, but I don’t see any evidence of queen cells that would indicate that.

She still has a great brood pattern and, even with this drought, they are managing to still stock away honey.

Large Marge Brood

Brood and Honey


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Queen Ramona 2nd Week Hive Check

It has been two weeks since I first hived the new package of bees and a little over a week since Ramona was released from her cage. The girls have been busy drawing out wax even in areas like the hive feeder.

Building comb in the feeder

Once I got into the hive, I was a bit nervous on how Ramona was doing. A good chunk of the comb is filled with the syrup and they are starting to cap a lot of it off. I really don’t want the hive to be honey bound and not have anywhere for Ramona to lay. I did see one or two frames with eggs, larvae, and capped brood so maybe she is just starting to hit her stride.

Starting to see eggs and brood

I did see a few cells with 2 eggs in them which usually indicates a laying worker if you find them in large quantities. I only saw a handful so I’m hopeful this is normal for a new queen. We did see Ramona so we confirmed she was still there.

Queen Ramona

The thing that has me the most worried is a possible supersedure cell in the picture below. It was covered in bees, in the middle of the frame, and was hard to see clearly. I have a shot below if any one wants to weigh in with an opinion.

Possible Supersedure cell

I know Ramona is alive and is starting to lay, but the bees know better than I if she is up to the task. We’ll see what it looks like next week, but who knows, Queen Ramona II may be just around the corner.

Finally, as the girls have pretty much filled out 7 of the eight frames, we added the 2nd Evil Ex Super to the hive.

2nd Super Added


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When life gives you a drought….

…go find the drought resistance sources of nectar.

Bee on Cactus

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Queen Ramona Update

This post is extremely late as I inspected the new hive last Saturday, but work has all but consumed my life for the past week so I’m just now able to take a moment and give an update on Ramona.

Last Saturday, I did a quick check of the hive to make sure Ramona had been safely released from her cage and was out and about in the hive. Here is a shot of the frame with the cage still attached by a rubber band.

Frame with queen cage

I forgot to bring scissors so I had a heck of a time getting the rubber band off without hurting bees in the process. Luckily, my hive tool did a good job cutting through the band.

After a few minutes of searching, I finally spotted Ramona. She has a white dot on her back.

Queen Ramona

The girls are drawing out comb nicely, and I will most likely need to add a 2nd super to the hive this weekend. The girls are also really sucking down the syrup as Austin is in the middle of a pretty bad drought right now. I can’t even remember the last time we got any decent rain which is a complete 180 from last year when I started Large Marge’s hive.

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Quick Check on Ramona

I performed a quick check on the top feeder in Ramona’s hive. The girls had sucked it dry so I filled it up again. I really meant to visit on Wednesday, but work unfortunately got in the way. This should see them through the weekend when I’ll check to see that Ramona has been released from the queen cage.

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Queen Ramona and a Tale of Two Stings

I picked up my package this morning from Bee Weaver and went straight to Baab-Brock Farms to install.

Package and new hive

Last year, I had a heck of time getting the syrup can and queen cage removed from the package while wearing gloves. I opted not to wear gloves this year because bees are generally docile when they don’t have a home to defend. Here is a shot of my removing the cage before they had fun attacking my hand.

Removing the queen cage

After getting stung on my right and left hand, I put my gloves back on for the rest of the installation. Here I am attaching the queen cage to a frame.

Attaching the queen cage to a frame

Next up was shaking the bees into the hive.

Shaking the bees into the hive

I then added the frames back into the hive.

Adding frames back into the hive

Now all eight frames are back in the hive and spaced properly.

All eight frames with queen back in hive

I placed the package at the entrance so any bees left in the box will find their way into the hive.

Remaining bees in the package

All that was left was filling up the top feeder and closing the hive up. Here is a shot of both hives.

Large Marge and Ramona

Except for getting stung, it was a straight forward installation. I’ll come back mid-week to check the syrup level in the feeder and next weekend I’ll verify that Ramona has been released.


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The Venus Hive

A friend sent me a link to another local Austin beekeeper’s blog, and one of his posts was about the Venus Hive he just purchased. The video he took is below.

It certainly is a cool looking hive, and I’ll definitely be following his blog to see how it works out. My only concern would be the size of some of the frames in the main brood section if you ever needed to get them out to inspect.


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Vanishing of the Bees

I’ll be attending a screening of the Vanishing of the Bees this evening at the Alamo Drafthouse Village.  If you would like to see this movie, here is a link to the upcoming screenings around the country.

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