Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Requeening and Hive Inspection

A couple of weeks ago when we set up our new hives at Andy's house we did everything we could to ensure success. Because this is agriculture nothing every works out 100%. Three of our bee colonies didn't accept their queen, and so we had to present them with new queens.

The first step was to look into the hives.

You cans see the bees are only on a few frames. They're clustered on the frames we originally put them in. Although 10,000 bees that come in a package may sound like a lot, a mature hive can have around 50-60,000 bees. So these 10,000 barely cover 3-4 frames. Also, bees only live for a few weeks, so we've already started to loose bees. We may have already lost 1-2,000 bees. So getting a laying queen in there is essential.

Here is a frame of bees on way comb they created. The ones that have a yellow color have been filled with pollen, food for the young bee larvae. The black cells are empty. They should each have a tiny white dot, a bee egg or have a developing larvae in them, but these don't.

The bees on the other hand are on top of capped brood. This queen must have come quickly out and started laying right away. The yellow color is capping wax that seals more mature larvae in for the final stage of development. Many times Priscilla and I have seen a new born bee chew it's way out of the capping to make her debut in bee society.

Here I shuffle things around int he hive to make room for the new queen, who waits in a brown paper bag before being introduced to her colony. I think the Queen of England does something like this too on state occasions.

Here is the view inside the bag. Each one of these girls will lay hundreds of thousands of eggs. We may think that machines are pretty amazing, but bees kick butt all over every machine ever made.

Curious worker bees observe the queen. They will feed her thorough the screen until she is released. The queen is held captive by a plug made of candy that the bees will eat away to remove her.

Here is a view between two frames of bees. I cannot express how amazing bee keeping is. If you're asking for an answer about why I do this, here it is.

We've been experimenting with different fuels for our smokers. There is some evidence that Sumac heads may be a mite suppressor. At any rate, it looks good. It's nice to be able to work with a natural product.

This picture you can see an active queen, can you spot her? This is what success looks like.

Hello. Curious bees check us out during the hive inspection. Here you can see that bees cover the tops of many frames in our over wintered hives. I know that bees are insects, but with their furry looking business I can't help but think of them as sweet somehow, as sweet as honey.


  1. Very interesting. Where did the queen in the "lunch bag" come from?

  2. Adam--

    How often do you and Priscilla visit your hives? and

    ... does any one queen always get accepted by the worker bees( if they dont have a queen with them?) I like the photo of the bees trying to meet the queen .. through the screen...

  3. The bees come from Warm Colors Apiary in South Deerfield. Those are special "blond Italian" queens. They are very yellow.

    Dan breeds great queens.

    When hives are new we visit them once or twice a week, more or less. As they become more established we look in on them every week or two.

    The bees do not always accept the queen. It's hard to say why not, but sometimes they don't. Bees can reject a queen and create a new one at any time.