Beemused: A Blog

New bees, new names

27th April 2009

New bees, new names

We just installed a package of Italian bees in each of the hives that didn’t make it. The hive set-up that had been Mary is now Emma (Goldman- an appropriate name for pretty golden Italian bees, no?), and Elizabeth’s old home is not inhabited by Victoria (Woodhull).

These were excellent packages! Hardly any dead bees in the bottom, the queens were lively (or so Justin reported- he got a closer look than I did) and marked with a green dot- that will be handy when we want to identify her!, and the package bees seemed to be fond of their queens already, based on the number of them hanging out on the outside of her cage.

We’d barely shook them out of their shipping package when some started with their “come hither!” signaling- including one that was, at the time, on Justin’s butt. That made me laugh. They like him!

They zipped right into the hives, with relatively few hovering around outside, though there was a fair amount of buzzing. Not angry, just excited. And by the time Victoria was closed up again, almost all of Emma’s bees were in their hive.

I’m glad we waited till evening to install them- last time it was more in the afternoon, and they were a lot buzzier.

It’s a good time to have installed them, too- the hot weather means that all the flowering trees are flowering, and that’ll give the new girls a lot to do. Although they are very good at drawing comb, based on the amounts in their packages, the hives have drawn comb in them this time so the new queens can get right to laying as soon as they’re released.

I do love the Italians- they are such pretty golden bees! I hope we can do better at keeping them going over the winters.

-Amanda

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18th April 2009

Spoke too soon

Unfortunately, like many beekeepers this year, a hive that seemed OK at the start of the season has now died.  Elizabeth, always our weakest hive, appears to have lost track of honey stores - there was a clump of dead bees in the upper chamber, with about a 2-3″ region of depleted comb around it.  I probably shouldn’t have reversed the brood chambers, given how weak she was.

Now we have to scramble to find a local source of nucs.  Nucs wouldn’t be ready in this area until late May at the earliest, and it will be frustrating to have to wait.  Another option is to split our remaining hive (once she’s built up enough) and introduce a new queen.

–Justin

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