A New Queen

  • By Elly Maxwell
  • 02 Jun, 2017

The overwintered hive didn’t start out strong, but boy that queen is an egg-laying miracle! I still have them in one-story, but they’re almost ready to expanded spaces.

The nuc we installed with the laying queen is also very strong! We watched worker after worker fly in with pollen baskets filled! The bees are working hard. We didn’t see the queen today, however we did see freshly laid eggs in addition to brood of all ages.

The second nuc, the weaker one that we could not confirm a queen on Tuesday, is still not showing signs of a laying queen. There is definitely not any eggs or brood. Fortunately, I sent a message to our nuc supplier yesterday around 4:00 and this morning at 7:50 the post office informed me there was a queen bee waiting for me on Rodd St.! That’s quick service.

We did install a new queen, as shown in the photograph. She’s inside a cage currently as she is not bonded with this new group of workers. The technique is to add the cage to the hive where the existing workers can get used to her smells. Meanwhile, they work to chew on the candy plug in her queen cage. By the time the candy plug opens, they are accepting of her and welcome her to rule! I’ll verify early next week she makes it out of the hive and will confirm egglaying too.

Additionally, we set up all three hives with a quart jar of sugar solution. Early on, it’s beneficial to feed the bees to help them get a jump start. We are choosing to feed our overwintered hive as well, because it was so small.  I make the sugar solution using a 5-pound bag of sugar and 1 gallon of water. This makes enough to fill 5 quart jars with solution. I also use a commercially prepared honey bee health product that smells of lemongrass and spearmint. Typically, I like to feed the hives until they fill one story and are ready for a second.

Dow Gardens' Bee Blog

By Elly Maxwell 02 Jun, 2017

The overwintered hive didn’t start out strong, but boy that queen is an egg-laying miracle! I still have them in one-story, but they’re almost ready to expanded spaces.

The nuc we installed with the laying queen is also very strong! We watched worker after worker fly in with pollen baskets filled! The bees are working hard. We didn’t see the queen today, however we did see freshly laid eggs in addition to brood of all ages.

The second nuc, the weaker one that we could not confirm a queen on Tuesday, is still not showing signs of a laying queen. There is definitely not any eggs or brood. Fortunately, I sent a message to our nuc supplier yesterday around 4:00 and this morning at 7:50 the post office informed me there was a queen bee waiting for me on Rodd St.! That’s quick service.

We did install a new queen, as shown in the photograph. She’s inside a cage currently as she is not bonded with this new group of workers. The technique is to add the cage to the hive where the existing workers can get used to her smells. Meanwhile, they work to chew on the candy plug in her queen cage. By the time the candy plug opens, they are accepting of her and welcome her to rule! I’ll verify early next week she makes it out of the hive and will confirm egglaying too.

Additionally, we set up all three hives with a quart jar of sugar solution. Early on, it’s beneficial to feed the bees to help them get a jump start. We are choosing to feed our overwintered hive as well, because it was so small.  I make the sugar solution using a 5-pound bag of sugar and 1 gallon of water. This makes enough to fill 5 quart jars with solution. I also use a commercially prepared honey bee health product that smells of lemongrass and spearmint. Typically, I like to feed the hives until they fill one story and are ready for a second.

By Elly Maxwell 30 May, 2017
  

Last Thursday started as an early morning, I left the gardens at 5:00 and drove to the beeyard to pick up our 2017 nucs. Yes, this is a little late to be getting bees for installation, so many great flowering nectar plants are done. But we like our supplier, are always happy with the quality, and can acknowledge that this is a slow year and a slow start to bees too is the downside.

Our nucs had a long ride from Deckerville in the early morning, so we chose to place them near their future home and let them settle before installing them into the sister hives.

Tuesday morning we set to work inspecting and installing the nucs. It is important to confirm with newly purchased bees that there is a laying queen. The first box we opened was hopping! They were bursting at the seams with adult bees and the frames were chocked full of brood of all ages- from tiny eggs up to capped larvae. The queen here is very productive and this hive is well on its way to a productive season.

Unfortunately, as we opened the second nuc we could tell immediately there weren’t as many worker bees. It didn’t take us long to acknowledge we didn’t have any brood of any age and no eggs either. We’ll give it a day or two and check again, but we anticipate contacting the supplier and requesting a replacement queen!

In addition to installation, we also medicated the bees today. New to Dow Gardens management, we added mite strips to both the newly installed bees and the overwintered hive. We also use an antibiotic to help control American Foul Brood. The risk of American Foul Brood is that an infected colony has the potential to contaminate all the equipment and honey. The necessary action after finding American Foul Brood is to burn everything, including harvested honey.  We surely want to prevent American Foul Brood!

ast Thursday started as an early morning, I left the gardens at 5:00 and drove to the beeyard to pick up our 2017 nucs. Yes, this is a little late to be getting bees for installation, so many great flowering nectar plants are done. But we like our supplier, are always happy with the quality, and can acknowledge that this is a slow year and a slow start to bees too is the downside.

Our nucs had a long ride from Deckerville in the early morning, so we chose to place them near their future home and let them settle before installing them into the sister hives. Tuesday morning we set to work inspecting and installing the nucs. It is important to confirm with newly purchased bees that there is a laying queen. The first box we opened was hopping! They were bursting at the seams with adult bees and the frames were chocked full of brood of all ages- from tiny eggs up to capped larvae. The queen here is very productive and this hive is well on its way to a productive season.

Unfortunately, as we opened the second nuc we could tell immediately there weren’t as many worker bees. It didn’t take us long to acknowledge we didn’t have any brood of any age and no eggs either. We’ll give it a day or two and check again, but we anticipate contacting the supplier and requesting a replacement queen!

In addition to installation, we also medicated the bees today. New to Dow Gardens management, we added mite strips to both the newly installed bees and the overwintered hive. We also use an antibiotic to help control American Foul Brood. The risk of American Foul Brood is that an infected colony has the potential to contaminate all the equipment and honey. The necessary action after finding American Foul Brood is to burn everything, including harvested honey.  We surely want to prevent American Foul Brood!

By Elly Maxwell 18 May, 2017
It’s starting to look like a bee-utiful season! Unfortunately, the outlook doesn't seem so good for the Whiting Forest bees as neither of our sister hives showed any activity in early spring. One was still alive, but with a cluster less than the size of a softball I wasn’t very optimistic. I wasn’t very diligent this winter with feeding the bees with the added complication of Whiting Forest being a construction zone, the bees were left to live on their honey stores alone.
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