So you wanna meet the queen bee…

But do you know a queen when you see one?  She’s here looking all royal.  If you look closely enough you can see some of the eggs she recently laid.  She’s surrounded by worker bees and capped brood.

Queen Bee

Just a few days after taking that pic things got a little wild in the bee yard.  Found a bunch of supersedure cells and swarm cells, and went from two hives to 5!  Here are some of the pics:

Swarm cells Swarm cells and drone cells Supersedure cell with capped brood and honey

Supersedure cells look like peanuts, and swarm cells are often at the bottom of the frame.  They are both queen cells.  Worker bee cells are much smaller.  You see some in the pics.  Drone cells are just a bit more raised than worker bee cells, you can see some of those in the second pic.  That liquid is honey.  The nursing bees like to keep honey and pollen close by the brood for feeding purposes.  When I took these pics, being the newbie that I am, I didn’t realize I had all these queens in the making.  Basically the workers were preparing to flee the hive or felt something was wrong with the queen and needed to raise a new one, and I didn’t get that right away.  I think they actually did swarm not long after I checked, but I just missed it.  Anyway, I made splits with the queen cells and have five hives now.

Here’s something cool.  It takes about 16 days for a new queen to develop and hatch.  So the cells you see above became the queens and hatching queens you see below.  If you look closely you can see the queens making their way out in the first pic to the left.  There are a couple of queens making their way out of the cell.  They’ll duke it out once they are free; queens aren’t into sharing their domain.  May the best queen win! In the second pic is a new queen from one of the new hives.  She hatched this week.

Queens hatching All hail the new queen!

This is me feeling exhilirated and a little stunned at all the growth.  Wowzer!  See the the nuc boxes behind me (smaller hive boxes)?  Those weren’t there just over a week ago.  It just got real, super fast.

Chief Inspector

Newbies and the New Bees

The bees are home!  A few weeks ago we installed the nucs in their brand new hive boxes, and it seems we managed to not totally screw things up.  If you’ve never seen this kind of thing before, it might look like we are pros.  If you have seen it before, well, it’ll look like we tried our best.  So glad I had help from my hubby, buddy and my baby.  The difference between the theory and practice of beekeeping becomes pronounced when you are staring down a few thousand bees.  Team work makes the dream work.  Check it out!

Leveling

The making of a hive stand

The making of a hive stand turned out to be more involved than I expected. I took the bee keeping class, I read the books, and I talked to experienced apiarists. By most accounts the simplest hive stand I could make would be with a couple of 4x4s and some cinder blocks. Figured I’d plop them down and that would be it. Easy peasy. What I didn’t realize was that the need for level ground beneath the hive was more than a mere mention in the books and conversations I had; It was, in fact, critical to everything.

I didn’t have a level at home. Couldn’t find one in the garage so I went back to the hardware store and got me a nice handy serious-about-my-work level. As soon as I put it on the wood for a check and saw that it couldn’t be more UN-level I knew the easy stand idea was too good to be true. Discovered that a tiny bit of a slope is pretty significant, and learned that if the hive is tilted, the bees will build comb that way too! Makes sense to me.

So I hatched a plan, recruited hubby, searched YouTube, and then got to digging, and digging, and digging some more. Along the way I gained a new respect for leveling, real and metaphorically speaking.  Bottom line: balance is worth the effort and so much depends on it.