Beemused: A Blog

Bee Class: On Queens

24th June 2007

Bee Class: On Queens

posted in Personal, Our Hives |

This bee class at Warm Colors Apiary focused on queens. Dan shared lots of information with us, and I am more and more intrigued by queen-raising. A dangerous interest, since each queen needs a hive, and a few hives can rapidly become *ahem* rather more than a few if a beekeeper pursues such an interest! And we don’t really have a good place to install a bunch more hives…

I do think, though, that next year we can probably do 1 more hive here. And I am very eager to experiment with a top-bar hive. So- who knows?

High points: we saw several queens in their natural context. This does not make me any more confident that I would be able to spot her on a frame myself, but at least I can easily tell a drone from a worker, which capability was not universal. :) We got to see Dan marking a queen- he suggested getting the equipment and practicing on drones, which seems like a good idea to me! (Marking means putting a spot of paint on the queen’s thorax, which makes her a bit easier to spot in the hive.) We also learned about various methods to limit the queen to improve the ratio of foragers to in-hive workers, and to interrupt the mite breeding cycles. And ways to (try to) avoid swarming.

We also got to see a swarm live and in person! It was gathered at the top of a tall maple tree, and was pretty much a basket-ball sized lump of bees. Dan was planning on trying to collect it after our class- but it took off before that, right about at the time when I and a few more people were looking at it. All of a sudden it started to BUZZ (it had been quiet before), and then it took off. We watched it fly over a swamp and head into a wooded are in which the scouts had presumably found a nice hollow tree or something. Very cool!

And there was another swarm hanging around his beeyard while he was examining a hive and pointing stuff out to us. I got a bit overwhelmed by bugs at that point, what with so many bees doing random buzzing around our heads, plus the couple of horseflies that had decided I was a tasty treat. Generally I swat first, ask questions later- but I didn’t want to do that with so many bees around…

The second hive Dan opened was amazingly mellow, though. The girls basically ignored the fact that we were pulling frames, passing them around, capturing the queen and marking her, reformatting the hive- all of that. VERY mellow girls! Now, the downside was that they have a lot of Russian heritage, and were clearly planning to swarm in a few weeks. But they were lovely bees to work.

(OK- “lovely” in behavior. The Italians are still the prettiest bees around. Such bright gold they have! I wish beauty were the only consideration, because they are totally gorgeous. Nice, too!).0

So. I am still in rather a love/fear dichotomy with the girls. However, I am trending more towards the love, and less towards the panic.

Also: It seems that continuing to indulge their huge appetite for syrup makes sense at this point. They’re still drawing comb and setting up stores. We probably want to swap a few frames around next time we go into the hive, to encourage them to utilize all their space- but it sounds like they’re doing well, and we might be able to cut them off from the syrup in the fall, and maybe put some supers on them and get honey. Maybe. :)


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This entry was posted on Sunday, June 24th, 2007 at 7:43 pm and is filed under Personal, Our Hives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 3 responses to “Bee Class: On Queens”

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  1. 1 On June 25th, 2007, AzureLunatic said:

    I thought you might enjoy this comic: — note the alt text for the image, in particular.

  2. 2 On June 25th, 2007, AF said:

    Thank you! *choke* That was too, too funny!

  3. 3 On September 26th, 2007, bee pin said:

    bee pin

    I find it strange that the pupa was not simply removed from the hive. It was almost like it was taking the pupa somewhere.

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