Saturday, April 21, 2012

queen rescuer

Today I decided, this was the day to take a peak in the hives. I wanted to check if the queens had been released from their cages.

From everything I read or videos I watched, there seems to be some discrepancy as to when to do the first check on a newly installed hive. Some said, three days. While others said, seven days. 
I decided I wasn't going to wait seven days.
 I was debating about checking yesterday, but the weather decided that for me. It rained pretty much all day. At this time of year, I'd rather have the rain instead of snow. I wasn't complaining.

I was worried, anxious, and uncertain when I went to open my hives. I had the smoker ready, but not really sure how to use it. So I really didn't it use it this time. But I know that I will probably have to in the future when the bees have something to defend. I also did use my gloves. To big and bulky. I had bees crawling on my hands. The whole time I just kept talking softly to them, and to myself. Reminding myself just to work slowly. Take your time. Patience. When I was done all three hives, and I walked away sting free. The emotion that swept over my was EXHILARATING!! I really enjoyed the experience. I can't wait to do it again!!!

I worked one hive at a time.
 I basically did the same thing in  in each hive.
I took the outer lid off, and gently removed the inner cover. On the underside of the inner cover there were plenty of bees.

I didn't think to take a photo right away, when I lifted the lids off. This was all that was remaining on the lid after I had done everything else in the hive.
I ever so careful leaned the inner cover up against the outer cover. I next checked the frame feeder. I refilled the feeders. I made the syrup earlier this morning, so it would be cool enough to add to the feeders. I lifted off the pollen patty, and turned it over, so that I wouldn't squish any bees. They chewed through the paper that the patty is sandwich between.
I removed the third frame from the right and than the next two. I made sure that I replaced the frames in the same spot that I took them from. I located the queen cage at the bottom under one of the frames.

This picture I took after I filled the feeder, and checked for the queen. When I first opened this up, there was a whack load of bees on top of the frames.

 In O Bee One and Super Bee, they had released their queens.

But in Leave Me Bee, the queen was still in the cage!

queen cage

When I was installing this hive on Monday, I accidentally pushed that teeny tiny cork inside with the queen. And now, because she has such a huge abdomen, she couldn't negotiate around the cork. I thought she could.
I wasn't worried.
Until today!
I found a tiny stick and ever so carefully moved the cork towards the back of the cage. Queenie moved her body to the other side, and I moved the cork completely out of her way. She started crawling for the opening. As she was doing this, the words that Rodrigo told me quickly flashed through my head. "Be careful that the queen doesn't fly away on you. This has happened to alot of beekeepers". I quickly put her back on the bottom of the hive, and put the frame back over her. I got a glimpse of her as she crawled under the frame next to her.

I didn't do a thorough check. I didn't look for the queen in the other two hives. Nor did I check to see if they had been drawing comb. Next time when I check, I will search the frames for signs of drawing comb, the queen, and eggs. Until I know, off by heart, what I am inspecting for at each visit, I am going to make a check list to put in my bee box.

I am going to have fun trying to find things on the frames. I have noticed as I am getting older, my eyes are changing. My glasses are for distance.  So I need to take them off to do any close up work. Like crochet, sewing, eating, reading, and now checking frames. What makes this even more of a challenge, is looking through a 'screened' veil! 

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

bee buzz

This morning, Frank plowed the snow from an area where we are going to temporarily keep the bees until the big move. We figured it would melt quicker if the snow was removed. And it did. A beekeeper that I found, out in Spirit River, told me that bees get disoriented in the snow. So we thought this would help them orientate themselves. 

 We removed all the insulation from the hives. We left the hives intact and on the board-walk. Let me tell you, they were heavy!!! We moved them out from along side the house and to the spot where Frank had cleared. It  is only a few feet away from the house on the East-South East side of the house. When I look out through my kitchen or living room window I can see the hives.

 We also unblocked the entrance. It took the bees about four hours before they started getting busy outside their hives. O Bee One was the slowest to get active. Maybe tomorrow or Saturday, I will have a look inside to make the sure the queen is out of her package.

O Bee One

Leave Me Bee

Super Bee

On the new farm, we will find a special place for the bees, and place the hives, if you can imagine, in an "S" configuration. It helps them more to find their own hives, and I believe that it would be less crowded that way. It will also give me a bit more space to work around them.

And on the farm front. I had another set of twins today. Both of them are ewes. And it was not Freckles. It was Ali Baba. Also, Boots had a bull calf. So, I think the next one to calve will be Annie. And Freckles should be the next one to lamb. I don't think she can get any bigger. I wonder if she has a set of triplets in there?

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Monday, April 16, 2012

installing the bees

Young Frank carrying one of the Arataki Tubes. Each tube was filled with 2.2 pounds of bees and one queen.

Storing the tubes in an upright position, until we can stall them later tonight.

The husband and I are prying/pulling the staples out  of the white plastic ventilated cup. I hated wearing the protective veil. It is attached to my jacket. I felt claustrophobic in it! Frank made sure he was duct taped around his gloves. He was paranoid of being stung. Yet young Frank was taking the pictures, and he had no protective gear, and he got right in there. He was helping me pulling staples, and he was even picking bees up with his bare fingers, to place them inside the hive, so they wouldn't freeze!

We discovered, before we went outside that one of those simple little office supplies, a staple puller (or whatever the proper name of it is) worked the best for removing the staples.

The queen is in her own separate wooden box, which is stapled to this green 'ribbon'. After we pulled the staples out from around the edge of the tube, and from the green ribbon, we tapped the tube hard against the wooden pallets, to knock the bees to the bottom. Frank gently worked the white 'cap' from the tube, so we could pull the ribbon out of the tube.

Here I was prying out the tiny little cork. That dark object is the queen. She isn't marked, so she might be fun to find in a few days amongst the bees. I was trying to find out from bee blogs and forums, and groups what I was suppose to replace the cork with. I end up using a piece of a tiny marshmallow.

Here is a better shot of the queen in her box, that is stapled to the ribbon.

After I 're-corked' the queen with a marshmallow, I set her on the bottom of the hive, with the screen side up. We then dumped the rest of the bees on top of the queen. 

I gently replaced the two frames on top of the bees. Before we even installed the bees, Frank and I filled all the frame feeders with a sugar syrup. I did 1:1 ratio. 1 cup of water to 1 cup of sugar.

I placed a pollen patty on top of the frames on every hive.

Replacing the inside cover.

All three hives done. 

We did one hive at a time. We only brought one tube outside at a time. We installed the bees at 8pm tonight. You may have noticed that the hives had been moved prior to the hiving of the bees. Over the weekend, we received over a foot of snow, and the temperatures dropped down to minus 13 Celsius. Frank thought the bees would be better protected up against the house. This is the East side, and it melts faster on this side. Once the overnight temperature gets closer to being around 0, we will move the hives out from the house.

Frank loosely put insulation around the hives to help keep them warm tonight. The weather guy was calling for overnight temperatures around -12 Celsius. We also blocked the entrance hole so the bees couldn't leave the hive.

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