Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Different Kind of Honey

Activity has been slowing down now that the major flow has wrapped up and the girls are only slightly irritated about it which means there is still enough food out there to keep them busy.  Bored and hungry bees can turn into pissy bees quickly!

There are many types of plants in bloom around the area right now which gives the girls a lot of variation in food sources.  This late summer variety in food sources should equate to them raising healthier winter bees and ultimately a stronger hive in spring.  I've also noticed with the cooler weather that some of the blackberry patches are starting to kick off a second round of new bloom spikes.  Nothing like the main flow, but something to help keep the girls working.

Collecting nectar from the heart of an Echinacea bloom.


A girl pushing her way into a Crocosmia 'Lucifer' bloom.


Sea Holly


One of my favorites the Black Eyed Susan.


Hollyhocks producing clumps of pollen.


Have you ever noticed that certain trees drip a sticky sappy like substances over you car or the sidewalk in summer?  Well there is a good change that what you are seeing is probably honeydew.  Honeydew is a byproduct of aphids and scale insects feeding on plant sap.  The insects secrete the surplus as a sticky sugar rich substance that attracts ants and bees to the trees.  The bees can then collect this and make a green tinted honeydew honey which some parts of the world consider a premium honey that is rich in antioxidants.  However from what I've read collecting honeydew is hard on the worker bees and can shorten their already limited life spans.  However it's food when there isn't much of a surplus and I've noticed a few oak trees just covered in bees in the last week.  Even when there aren't flowers there is still food out there for the girls to find in unusual places.

Licking honeydew off an Oak leaf.


Hive check (7/29/2012)

Geeks
Saw the queen and there are some eggs, but mostly capped brood.  They are showing signs of stress from varroa mites and I saw DWV (deformed wing virus).  Powder sugared the hive and I am debating my next steps if there is no sign of improvement in a couple weeks.  I'm still not sure what mysterious factor has taken place in the Librarian hive to turn them around so dramatically in the last few weeks and am curious if it will last.  I have read that bee immunity or resistance can be transferred from bee to bee by sharing nectar/honey.  I'm considering transferring a frame of honey from the Librarian hive to test that idea out, but my fall-back plan is to move the queen into a nuc and let them raise a new one which will give them a brood cycle break and knock the varroa down.

Engineers
Saw the new queen and she's darker than her mom.  I took pictures of what an opened cell looks like vs. a cell that a new queen as eliminated. When a queen kills another queen still in a cell they sting through it and bite the side to open it.

Opened queen cell from emerged queen.


The dead queen is quickly cleaned out of the cell once she has been disposed of.


Icons
The hive has a far amount of stored honey and is still building up.  I am feeding them to push them to continue building up so I can pull a few frames to raise new queens in the next few weeks.

Brood from the Icons.


Ballard Swarm
They are slowly building comb and mostly still clustered so couldn't inspect.  I added feed to help them along.

Nuc 2
These girls are doing good and building up.  They have a little honey stored.

Queen Castle 1
Slot 1
Queen cell opened, no sign of queen.  This slot got one of the donated frames and they have made two new queen cells (capped) on it.

Slot 2
Queen cell opened, no sign of queen.

Slot 3
Saw the queen.  She looks big and healthy... and she's another blond.

One of the other new queens from the Engineer hive.


Slot 4
Queen cell opened, no sign of queen.

Queen Castle 2
Slot 1
This has the hive from Nuc 3.  The sunshine does seem to be doing these girls good and there is a noticeable boost in brood.

Slot 2
Queen cell opened, no sign of queen.

Slot 3
Queen cell opened, no sign of queen.

Slot 4
Unused.

Hive check (7/31/2012)

Sand
Full hive check and they have built two new combs in the last week.  I was slightly concerned they might try to pull off a late season swarm based on their strength, but everything looks good at the moment.

Surf
Added syrup.

Walking home the other day I walked along the boulevard that looks out over the trees on the hillside down at the Puget Sound and came across a large tree top about the same level as the road.  While looking at the view I noticed a beeline that was using the tree as a wind break to fly up the hill and continue on to either a food source or to their hive.  It was amazing to come across a bee freeway like this away from any hive.  If it had been earlier in the day I might have been able to trace them to their destination, but once they got to the top of the tree and over the road they took off further up the hill out of sight.  It's amazing what you can find when you look.

- Jeff