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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. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a Master Beekeeper! Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.


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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hives at Blue Heron Nature Preserve

My new beekeeping buddy, Wade, has a new hive at the Blue Heron Nature Preserve. This is a community garden. People rent plots and grow organically at Blue Heron. There are three beehives located at the preserve. Several beekeeping friends have asked or emailed me to find out if I know who they belong to. It's such a great idea to put hives at the site of an organic community garden - so we are all curious.

Lucky me, one of the beekeepers there emailed me to comment on my blog. Mystery solved!

He was concerned about his hive and the performance (or lack thereof) of his queen. I offered to come for an inspection with him and he took me up on it. Wade (who has an injured foot and is clomping around the trail in spite of it) is one of the best smoker lighters I have ever met. He alluded to Boy Scouts, and I imagine this experience serves him better as a smoker-lighter than it did me to be a Girl Scout!



Wade had seen the queen in his nuc when he installed it, but when we opened the hive, there was no sign of a laying queen - no young brood, no eggs, lots of empty cells. The only brood in the hive was old, emerging now from being laid about three weeks ago. We did find opened queen cells. One of the queen cells was appropriately opened (see yellow circle in the picture below - you may have to click on the picture to enlarge it for better viewing). Wade is pretty sure this cell was not open the last time he inspected.

In addition to that opened cell, we also found two other intact, closed queen cells.

We decided that probably his hive had requeened itself and the virgin queen had not started laying yet. If this is the case and there is, in fact a queen, she may not lay for three weeks. If Wade had had another hive, we might have taken a frame of brood and eggs from it, but the other two hives belong to other people and were started at the same time as his.




We closed the hive up. You'll notice the hive box sitting on top of the inner cover. Wade is doing this as a way of storing the hive box until the bees need it.



We opened his friend Kent's hive and found beautiful brood patterns throughout the hive. Perhaps when he and Kent are back at the preserve at the same time, they can move a frame of Kent's into Wade's hive. A frame of brood and eggs would allow Wade to give his bees the opportunity to make a new queen in the event that they are queenless.

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