To Bee Or Not To Bee (a Bee-odyssey)

Discussion in 'Environment' started by jjl, Feb 18, 2016.

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  1. jjl

    jjl orgone generator

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    Before we drive away, we look at the bee yard one last time.
    The girls are quiet again, hanging out on their landing.
    The bee yard tells a different story:
    A big corrugated plastic sheet I use as a rain guard on the be roof is laying behind the hive.
    The hive tool is on the ground, as is a lighter and the straps we hold the box closed with. Along with the stone that keeps the rain guard affixed to the roof.
    "Fuck it, fuck it and fuck it!" I say.
    Jim nods in agreement. All of the evidence littering in the bee yard is truly unnecessary. There will be no rain. We never had bears. We won't need the tool until we have big enough balls to open the box again.
    We will buy a new lighter.
    It will be another ten days before we open the box again.
    But in the end, we will be doing magical and amazing things to try and save this hive.
    I am still not sure if we have, but I am encouraged.
     
  2. jjl

    jjl orgone generator

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    Sounds like you've lost a queen, says my mentor.
    "NO!" I exclaim.

    But secretly I hope she is right.
    Because if I truly have a hot hive, I will have to hire someone very experienced to come pinch that queen. I hardly can ever find her in the best of conditions.
    To be sure, I called the apiary that I purchased this batch of bees from. The owner concurred.
    "You have to open that hive and look inside." She admonished.
    But I waited for my mentor.
    So it was ten days before it was opened again.
     
  3. jjl

    jjl orgone generator

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    About three days before the next inspection on this hive, I step into the bee yard and put the stone on top of the cover and pick up the lighter.
    I leave the straps undone and the rain-guard laying around.
    Weeds have grown around the hive tool and I cannot locate it.
    But the hive is in the same condition you would find any of my mentor's hives, which is the only reason I have placed the stone on top. (She doesn't use straps but now uses the rain-guard after I gifted here some corrugated plastic).
     
  4. jjl

    jjl orgone generator

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    A waft of angry bees floats up instantly, as soon as the outer-cover is off.
    Both my mentor and Jim have smokers.
    We are double dressed for Bees, and because it is hot as Hell out here, I have a bag of ice inside my clothing and Julie and I are both sucking on icecubes before we begin.

    Jim is in charge of smoke now, I am in charge of removing Honey frames and Julie is in charge of brushing bees off of frames and handing me empty ones to replace them.
    We are hoping we can move quick enough that we will be able to look inside the top Brood box.
    Luckily, we are efficient and once the top super is free of heavy Honey frames, I pry it loose from the top brood box.
    Jim smokes Julie and me while we peer inside the Brood box.
    There is lots of capped brood, but no open brood, so we know it's been at least 8 days since there has been a laying queen.
    Julie pulls two frames of capped brood covered in nurse Bees and directs me to place them in a nuc I have brought into the yard on the outside chance we would be able to split this hive.
    We add a couple of honey frames from the super we have harvested and a frame of pollen.

    Jim closes up the nuc and carries it into the shade.
     
  5. jjl

    jjl orgone generator

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    Julie is good at finding queens, and she scrutinizes each frame like a Buddhist in meditation. About two-thirds into the box, we see a supersedure cell which means the colony has seen fit to raise a new queen.
    Because colonies may create several of these cells, Julie and I have no idea if this colony is queen right or not. There may be a newly emerged Virgin on her mating flight, or she could be in the bottom brood box, getting ready to start laying
    The only way to tell would be to investigate the bottom box.
    There is a lot of capped brood, so I am encouraged.
    But Julie looks worried because there is also an over abundance of drone brood, and this could indicate a laying worker.
    Laying workers will frequently kill a new queen.
    But Julie knows I see this and understand what I see. She is sensitive enough not to point it out.
    Do you think I should requeen I ask anxiously?
    Truth is, with five hives, this shit is getting expensive. I will already be purchasing a queen for the split we just made.
    Close it up and see what nature does, Julie advises.

    *Queens around these parts run about $40
     
  6. jjl

    jjl orgone generator

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    Next year I will be raising my own queens.
    It isn't complicated after what I have witnessed so far.
     
  7. jjl

    jjl orgone generator

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    Dr. Jons Nuc didn't arrive until the last weekend of May.
    They seemed to be getting along OK, but they were not growing or building comb fast enough.
    The queen that came with the nuc was already two years old, and I wondered if she was up for the job.
    I contacted the apiary I had purchased it from. After exchanging a few emails, the Beek offered me two frames of nurse bees with a new queen.
    It was a pain in the ass to drive there at the crack of dawn, you can only move Nucs in cooler weather.
    But when we arrived at Dr. Jon's and opened up the Hive there, the colony had started building comb, and the queen was laying nicely.
    I couldn't see driving these Bees back to Massachusetts that evening. Perhaps the queen would slow down or something.
    In the end, I installed them in my own back Yard and called the guy to insist on paying for them.
    He only charged me fifty-eight bucks. The cheapest colony this year.
    So now I have four hives.
    Jim and I enjoy sitting nearby and watching it while we take our morning coffee.
     
  8. jjl

    jjl orgone generator

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    After I made a split of the Queenless hive, we brought it back to our house.
    I never had any intention of keeping two hives in my tiny backyard, but there you have it.
    Now I was up to five hives.
     
  9. jjl

    jjl orgone generator

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  10. jjl

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    After three weeks I opened the queenless hive.
    I didn't have much confidence because there were a lot of drones on the landing and no one was bringing in pollen. Bees bring pollen for a laying queen, I guess she needs a lot of protein.
    We had been feeding those Bees like crazy with a front feeder.
    This is not the favored way to feed among experienced Beeks as it promotes robbing.
    But this colony was so damned fierce, I did not concern myself with that possibility.

    One coolish day, We took advantage of the temperature.
    There was no queen and no brood.
    My fear was that the laying worker killed her.
    I researched and asked the advice of seasoned Beeks.
    They all agreed that I should combine them right away, with a younger, weak hive.
    I just happened to have one of those laying around.
    The split from that hive I had made three weeks before.
     
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