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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

"What's in a name? That which we call a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

This quote is from Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.

I've been thinking about this all morning since I opened the hives today to see how the honey supers were looking. What's in a name? Well, maybe a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've been struck all day by how like their names my hives are behaving.

Last year I was into the beehives as leisure activity (what was I thinking???) and named my hives for vacation destinations. The hive that barely survived through the winter was Bermuda.

Bermuda, the country, is only 22 miles in length and 2 miles in width - quite a small piece of land. If I were to drive (I usually take MARTA) to the Atlanta airport from my house inside the perimeter around Atlanta, I drive 26 miles - farther than the entire length of Bermuda, the small country.

So my hive Bermuda, lives up to her name and is quite small. I'd like to give her an extra frame of brood but since I haven't yet switched to all medium boxes, the brood I have available from other hives is all on deep frames.

So Bermuda is growing very slowly. This bad picture is of a frame in the second box that the bees have finally drawn out and the queen (see middle of picture wearing a white dot) is laying well. But the hive is so small that today I put an entrance reducer on it to help them maintain their forces.

The hive that drew the crazy comb is named Proteus. I named the hive Proteus because the Greek god Proteus saved the lives of bees, but he had another characteristic - he was a shape-changer.

So in this hive the bees refuse to build straight comb. The comb is never the shape it is supposed to be.

Michael Bush said that sometimes you can't get bees to draw straight comb. I think he must be right because the bees in Proteus take after their namesake and are continuing to draw crazy comb. I got them to stop it in one box which is now filled with beautiful capped honey, but in this their new box, they are still making bridging comb between frames (see the pieces in the frame below). Wikipedia gives all kinds of shape-changing references for Proteus. Perhaps I should have researched further before naming this hive in a way that suggests the bees will be shape-changing with the comb!

And finally there's Mellona, named for the Roman goddess of bees and beekeeping. Blessed by Mellona as this hive is with her name, the bees are quietly and methodically making wax and honey, busy as bees.

They are currently building up their fourth box. The boxes all have been drawn from starter strips. Mellona has a beautiful brood pattern and gorgeous capped honey (see below) in two boxes and the bees are busily drawing out comb and storing honey in the fourth box.

So what's in a name?

I think a lot - or in psychology we might say that this represents magical thinking on the part of the beekeeper to think that the name of the hive has influenced me to make assumptions about the bees in it. And they are fitting right into my assumptions....which is why magical thinking seems so effective!
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  1. Anonymous9:30 PM

    Hey, great blog! I am enjoying reading about your experience. I wish I had the time for a hive, too.

  2. Hello Linda, thanks for this great blog, its brilliant!
    I had my right hip replaced last week so am home resting ! It is very hard doing nothing and I am missing my bees and the Gardens - I love autumn, hopefully will get some one to take me there on the weekend and I will hobble around on crutches !
    All the best ..


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