Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hive Check 8.27.13

Still trying to find out if we have a Queen.

We did a complete hive check.

Since I’ve seen several Small Hive Beetles, and I am going to feed the bees,  I thought I should use a clean hive body and clean bottom board and kill all the beetles I could find.

I only have 2 deep boxes. I used a propane torch to make sure there were no eggs in the box with the window that Jim made me. He also narrowed one end of each frame for better viewing. These frames will have to go into the next one he makes.


I moved the hive a few feet …put the new bottom board and box in it’s place…and as I removed each frame and looked at it, Jim photographed it. Good thing…he got stuff I didn’t see. Then each frame was put in the clean box in the same position it was when I removed it.

This frame will be removed one of these days….but it has a little honey on each side and they need all the stores they can get. The board at a slant is the starter strip. It is supposed to be in the top of the frame to guide them…guess they did OK without it….just worked around it.


In the lower right is an open Queen cell. Kind of looks like a peanut. I found at least 4 of them. I know the hive swarmed twice but it is possible it swarmed before we got home also.


This frame has some nectar and pollen…


When I first looked at this frame I thought I was just seeing light shining thru the comb….I hope I was wrong. I didn’t see this until I downloaded the pictures.


I’ve cropped the part with the white cells…does it looks like larva?  or wishful thinking. A couple of them look like a little “c”…curled up larva.

I’ve been told the Queen likes to lay near nectar and pollen and I believe there is some at the top.


Here is another interesting frame. Looks like a little white larva and a few capped cells.


Closer look….what amazes me is …I never saw this when checking. Good thing Jim was taking pictures. How could I miss this!!


and in the upper L of the same frame is this one….is that white in the cell a larva?  Kind of looks like it.


More nectar and pollen….


Looking for a Queen….not having any luck…040cs

Here we go again…a few more larva? Upper L and upper center?


another closer look…looks like a capped cell there too..flat like a worker bee. If it had a big dome cap it would be a Drone.


After I put all the frames in the hive box…there were a lot of bees on the old one so I stood it on end with a corner next to the entrance. As I was putting in reducers (make the entrance smaller to help prevent robbing by other bees when feeding) I noticed a few bees fanning….I watched all the bees in the old box march right into the hive.

We killed about 20+ Small Hive Beetles…but was told that is not an excessive amount. Did not get them all. Saw 3 through the observation window.

I still find it hard to believe that I did not see any of this larva when looking. Had my glasses on…but still missed it (if, in fact, it is larva.)

Sam Comfort will be in FL the first week of September. I’ll do another check in a week or so to be sure, but maybe that little window Jim put in will allow me to see without opening it up again…that is what it is supposed to be there for.

Sam is the beekeeper I bought these bees from. If I need a Queen I’d like to get it from him. His bees are raised natural and treatment free.

The more I look at the pictures…the more I feel we are going to be OK…if I am wrong…let me know.

The girls are cleaning the new entrance.


Cute and fuzzy….but don’t pet her…

010csGathering pollen on Spiderwort.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Honey Bees 8.25.13

I can see my hive from the screen room where I have my morning coffee.

This is the hive entrance  before the sun gets to it. They look like little soldiers all standing in a row. There are scouts going in and out. I guess this is the “guard”.


Once the sun hits the front of the hive there is more activity. More of them come out and start some serious cleaning.


This Jatropha bush has been blooming all summer. I had never seen a bee on it until a few days ago.

It was fun following this one around. She is gathering pollen.

You can see a nice drop of moisture hanging from the plant. Humidity is very high.


Most of the Cabbage Palms have already finished blooming. I expect they are gathering where ever they can find it.


Look at the size of the pollen sacs on her legs.


You wouldn’t think she could fly with all that pollen…but she wasn’t finished yet.


My old camera does not do good close ups….and when I crop them out they are a bit blurry.


Looking for more. She is flying away from me…that is her proboscis (tongue) you can see hanging down just forward of the pollen sacs.


The bees have been working  the Bottle Brush. It has been blooming off and on all summer, but it was pretty much ignored.


Now they are back. I can see 4 on this bloom that is still opening.


This Salvia has been blooming all summer but didn’t interest them until a few weeks ago.


This is another type of Salvia ….have never seen a bee on it.….but this little Skipper seems happy that it is here.

I never realized how cute they were until I took some pictures of them.


I’m glad I have such a diversity of plants. Guess I can use these to judge how much feed there is out there.. Nice to  see them feeding closer to home. Unfortunately….it probably means these plants are not their favorites or the easiest to work…or they’d be on them all summer.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Another Hive Check…looking for signs of a Queen 8.19.13

It’s been 9 days since the last check.

I came prepared with a magnifying glass. Jim suited up and did a good job of taking pictures. Unfortunately….I always had the comb in the wrong direction for looking directly into the cell with the camera.

It was HOT!   You can see sweat beads on my veil.


I’m posting some of the better ones.  Guess I need to number the frames so I can look at the pictures and know I’ve seen them all.


There is a good sized bunch of bees on the right end of this frame.


Don’t know why…here’s a closer look.


They were very calm as we went about our business.



There is a bee in the upper L corner that interests me….looks like her abdomen is down in the cell…laying?  Queen or laying worker?


Here’s a closer look….and looking at the other bees…there seem to be a lot of them with their heads in a cell cleaning…. more so than on other frames….making more room for her to lay?…or is it just wishful thinking.

026cs2Here are a few on a bit of capped honey…..aren’t they beautiful?


Nectar and pollen. Notice all the different colors of pollen. This is really very pretty when you see it.


I ask lots of questions on the forum and it has been suggested I wait a little bit longer to give a Virgin Queen a chance to mate and start laying.

I’ve located a beekeeper that has Queens and will order one after the next check.

If any of you “beeks” out there can see something that would swing it either way…please let me know.

Monarch Butterflies 8.21.13

It always makes me think of laundry day….they hang there and dry their wings.


I released 12 today.  There are a few more to go.

You can see a Queen caterpillar in a “J” in the back. She has 2 sets of antenna. Both are hanging straight down….she pupated a few minutes after I took this. Her chrysalis looks similar to the Monarch’s but does show a light pink color later on.


This was an escapee. I have a basket on the top of the Butterfly House where I keep some small tools etc. Thread and scissors for tying up a “J” or Chrysalis that is on a leaf. This on was on a plastic bag in the basket. I keep several small sticks to tie them to. I’ve found them on the ceiling, under the coffee table and even on the foot stool. Always on the lookout for one.


I’ve 4 tiny Queens….they’ll go inside as soon as the rest of the Monarch’s have gone to the top.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Drones at the hive entrance 8.11.13

I try to watch orientation each day that I am home. This was always a great thrill for me…but they’ve swarmed twice now and I get nervous that this will be the third time. They probably wouldn’t recover from another.

Today I noticed an unusually large number of Drones. I have learned from other beekeepers that Drones can go from hive to hive….I wonder if they are waiting for a Virgin Queen to take one of her mating flights.


All the big bees with the dark heads (eyes I think) are the Drones.  Their heads appear round while the worker bees heads look like a triangle. There are a few in this photo but most are Drones.


Maybe a “beek” with lots of knowledge could pick out a Virgin Queen…but not me.


A few hours later everything had settled down…I sure hope this is a good sign that a Virgin Queen is in the hive and just needs to make her mating flights. Without  a laying Queen fairly soon….the hive will die out….unless I purchase another.

Sam Comfort…the beekeeper I bought these from told me to check the hive again on Thursday ….if I see no sign of a laying Queen he could send me one. I’ll forward a link to the blog to him and see what he thinks this could mean.

Here’s a video of the action at the front of the hive.

Oh….remember those little Monarch caterpillars I posted about a few days ago?   Here are some of them today. They are little eating machines….most of these should go to the top and pupate shortly… least I hope they do….I’m running out of plants.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hive Check ….2 weeks after first swarm

I decided to do a hive check….there have been 2 swarms from this hive and I killed a white larva with a brown head that was almost in the hive. I think it was a wax moth larva. They can ruin a weak hive.
Good news….no wax moth larva in the hive…no small hive beetle larva on the combs…..but all brood has emerged. There will be no more bees unless they have a new Queen and she gets mated and starts laying.
Here are some of the frames as I checked them for eggs…the sign of a new mated Queen.  I couldn’t spot any…
005cs     013cs
Jim tried to get pictures of both sides of each frame…
017cs   019cs
He was photographing in bright sun light and thru a veil. We were not sure how the bees would be acting….but they were pretty nice. No stings.
I had hoped to be able to zoom in and check for eggs…but he was too far away. It is probably too soon for a Virgin Queen to have gotten mated and laying.
Since there is no capped brood…there will be no more new bees and these bees only live about 5 or 6 weeks during the busy foraging season. I did see empty Queen Cells…but one may have left with the second swarm.007cs
I've been told by a knowlegeable "beek" that this is an "anticipation" cell. They make them ...tear them down...make them...guess they keep them on hand incase they need a new Queen. The Queen cell would look more like a peanut.

I’ve been over and over these photos but cannot find a Queen. I don’t think a Virgin Queen would be very easy to spot anyways…
2  more anticipation cells
might be another in the upper L corner…
I believe this is the other side of the one above.
I think this one has a little capped honey in it….and maybe a couple of open Queen Cells in the lower left corner.044cs
Now here’s a nice mess….looks like the starter strip came out and they’ve just worked around it. I put it back just as I found it…might be a Virgin Queen running around on it somewhere and I wasn’t going to take any chances.
I was surprised there were this many bees…If you had seen the size of both swarms you’d think the hive would have been empty.
You can tell by the picture above….these are foundationless frames. They make their own honey comb for brood and honey stores. There is a bit of capped honey on the top of this one and 2 full medium frames of honey.
If any of you beeks out there see something that I can’t….please let me know.
There are a lot of Drones….they still bring in pollen….and they still have orientation flights. All they need is a Queen…a laying Queen.