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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!
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Distressing First Inspection at Blue Heron

Today Julia ran the first inspection of the year at Blue Heron.  She made a new sign for the apiary from the side of one of the hive boxes that washed down the creek in the flood last year.  It is at once both a sign about the apiary's location and a memorial to the seven hives that died last year.

We installed the nuc we got from Jennifer yesterday into a hive at Blue Heron.  We also looked at the other two hives which were installed on March 30.  I don't really know what to think about the first installed hives.  We saw no eggs or new brood in either hive.  Both were filled with bees.  There were no queen cells in my hive.  There were five queen cups, open, in Julia's hive and one closed one that didn't look like a queen cell....it seemed too small to me.

Jennifer told us that the intense early bloom was making the hives swarm.  She warned us to watch for signs.  We have seen no queen cells in either hive and we have looked.  Usually a hive doesn't swarm until after there are drones in the hives.  Julia's hive had drone brood and we saw a couple of drones.  Mine also had drone brood that looked old.

Also we know not to cut queen cells when there are no eggs in the hive.  Why?  Well, if you cut the queen cell and the hive has already swarmed AND there are no eggs in the brood box, then you have killed the future queen and there are no resources in the hive to make another one.  It's a moot point, really, since there weren't any closed queen cells.

So this is a very odd problem.  Have both hives swarmed without leaving a queen behind?  Did we totally miss queen cells that emerged in both hives and they both have virgin unmated, as yet, queens? 

Interestingly, without discussing it,  each of us went home feeling awful and opened our hives at home.  We each have at least one hive with brood and eggs to spare so we are going to add a frame of brood and eggs to each of the first installation hives at Blue Heron.  If they have a queen who isn't laying for whatever reason, the brood and eggs will boost the numbers, but if they need a queen, the brood and eggs will give them the resources to make one.

Oh, and while this is good news, it also felt like a let down.  I had put a sticky board on my Blue Heron hive. We pulled it and after three days, only saw one mite, and it was questionably identified.  I've seen mites on boards easily before, but I think Jennifer's bees came with very few mites so our mite drop was beyond insignificant.  We thought we'd show the participants what a mite looked like and weren't able to do even that!.

So here's the slideshow of the nuc installation. When we realized we had a problem, I got so worried that I forgot to take many pictures after the installation. 



1 comment:

  1. I imagine the weird weather this year can't be helping. I hope it all works out for the good.

    ReplyDelete

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