Monthly Archives: April 2011

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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Varroa in the House

In my previous post, I mentioned that I removed 8 frames of honey from the hive over the weekend. One them had a line of drone cells on the very bottom of the frame.

drone larvae

Here is a closer shot.

drone larvae

I took a small spoon to remove the drones and wax before starting the harvest, and I was horrified to see varroa mites scurry out of the cells as I scooped them out. I’ve checked the hive regularly for mites over the past year, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen them. They do prefer drone cells, and the hive has been producing a bunch being spring time and all.

Here is a shot after removing the comb.

drone larvae with varroa mites

Here’s a closeup of the nasty little bugger.

varroa mite

I’ll need to be more vigilant in my inspections over the next few weeks, and I’ll put a sticky mat on my bottom board next week to do a mite drop count. This does give me pause about sharing some brood frames when I install my package next week because I’d hate to introduce mites into the new hive right off the bat.

Any suggestions on non-chemical mite control? Do those drone frames actually work?

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Large Marge takes her honey dark…like her men.

I pulled 8 full frames of honey off the hive today. The bee escape worked great, and there were only a handful of girls left in the super that were easily removed. I still don’t have an extractor so I harvested the honey using the crush and strain method. One of these days I would like to get a small extractor, but right now this method isn’t too time consuming plus I like the added benefit of having beeswax for projects.

Overall, I pulled off just shy of 25 pounds of honey which was very dark compared to last year’s fall harvest which in turn was darker than the initial 2010 spring harvest. I think I’m going to break down and send a sample off for pollen analysis because I’m very curious about the pollen counts. Here is a side by side shot of last year’s fall honey on the left and the recent harvest on the right.

2011 First Honey Harvest

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where I reveal the not so sweet side of honey harvesting.

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Pre-Honey Harvest Prep

I’ll be taking a full super of honey off the hive Sunday, so I went out today to put the bee escape on the hive to make tomorrow’s activities much easier. I did my first and last harvest last fall without using a bee escape, and I’ll never do it again. It took forever to get all the bees off the frames, and I ended up with a yard full of pissed off bees.

Another advantage of the harvest is reducing the size of the hive to a more manageable level. Right now, I’m resorting to a step stool to get the height I need to inspect the top most supers.

Tall Hive, Little Man

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T-Minus One Week

I received an e-mail today that my package of bees will be arriving next weekend. I’m very excited about the prospect of starting a new hive, and I’m sure Queen Ramona Flowers is anxiously awaiting her new home.

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