Friday, June 11, 2010

Bee Log 41: June 10, 2010

In early April, we moved a mature hive to a yard in Bellevue just before the cherry trees were in bloom. That hive got really mean and aggressive and had to be requeened about a month ago. Aggression in bees is a matter of genetics and the queen is the mother of all of the bees in a hive. Aggressive bees are dangerous to have around. Yesterday we got into that formerly mean hive and found a brood box (lower part of the hive), full of eggs and larva. A bee lives for about 6 weeks in the summer so there were still some aggressive guard bees in the hive but nothing like the buzzing attacks we experienced in mid May. Then, the guard bees would follow us away from the hive. We had to walk into the deep shade and wait for them to leave us alone before we could take our bee suits off. On this visit, no bees followed us as we left the hive.

We also saw honey in that hive!!!! The bees have one super (upper part of the hive where the surplus honey is stored) almost full of honey and capped. Capping is the final step in honey production for the bee. It is a thin coat of wax over the ripe honey.

I am so glad to see honey. We have worked through some problems this spring that we have never had before. I started to wonder if the bees would store a surplus that we could take. This spring, we have seen drone laying workers, drone laying queens, queens missing in action and queens with mean genetics along with swarms that left behind hives with new queens that couldn't mate because it was too cold and rainy.

We are thrilled and thankful that the requeening of the mean hive went so well. The two hives in our own yard that we requeened in April seem to be building up a good population but aren't storing surplus honey yet. We requeened 5 more hives almost a week ago and the new queens should be out of their cages now and starting to lay eggs. There is a candy plug in the queen cage that the workers eat through to let the new queen out. The bees need to be introduced to new royalty slowly or they will kill the new monarch.

I will try to get some more pictures so you can see the things that I am describing.

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