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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

You've got to be joking...you're not joking?!

I got a call from a neighbor about one mile away today saying that she had a hive of bees on the outside of her tree about 25 feet up. I kept telling her that bees build nests INSIDE objects, not outside them. Eventually though I was intrigued enough that I went over there at about 4:00p.m. She wasn't kidding, they're honeybees alright. A nice hive too, it looks like they were from a swarm just a few weeks ago as there's alot of white comb. Comb is only white before it's exposed to brood or pollen. The cluster itself was about the size of a basket ball. I think they're closer to 15 or 20 feet up. Tomarow afternoon I'll do a flag test to determine if I want them (a.k.a. that they're not africanized [killer bees]). If they pass that test I'll take them that night. I want to do it at night because, that way it's too cold for them to actively fly and therefore I can drop them right into the bucket. Oh yeah, I'm gonna be dangling from a ladder 25 feet in the air with thousands of cranky, cold bees. What could go wrong...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Eggs!

I checked on the Italian hive and they seem to be doing well. They've got more than enough honey to sustain themselves and the Russian hive. They're also very populous but, they know that winter is comming and are propolizing the hive to prevent the cold winter winds from drafting in. The highlight of the day, however, was with the Russian hive. There wasn't to much activety at the enterence so, I was a bit worried when I was comming to inspect them. I donned my gear, lit the smoker and looked inside. There were still plenty of bees but, they really haven't drawn much comb. They've stored alot of the sugar syrup I was giving them and, I finaly saw eggs in cells. A sure sign that there is a queen. There were even some young larvae. I'll be able to better diagnose how well this queen performs over the next few weeks but, it's a releif to see eggs! This hive may make it through the winter yet!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I'm worried.

This is no change from the usuall but, I'm worried about the Russian colony. I went over to check on it today and they were very aggressive. The population had certainly increased but, my Italian colony was 3 times that size before their increased aggressian became noticable. I inspected the colony as usuall but, after opening it I decided to go with gloves. They were NOT happy. I pulled out a frame and they had completely drawn the comb but, it was empty; no brood and no honey. I continued searching all the frames and some had honey but, none had larval brood or eggs. The bees had a very loud buzz but it all sounded the same. Then, I picked up a frame, they buzzed as usuall but, just after I turned it over to inspect the other side I heard a loud sound, "Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee". This repeated a few times and I was slighly dumbfounded. I had never heard bees say their name. I've heard that this was the reason they are called bees but, never heard it myself. I was thinking at the time that possibly the broodless state was due to a lack of resources so, I put on a quart of 1:1 sugar syrup. I still have no idea why the only brood is capped. Some was emerging when I arrived but, I have come to a few likely conclutions. I saw some bees coming in with pollen and there was also a fair bit stored so I don't think their is a pollen dearth but, a lack of nectar. Their honey stores have been deeply tapped and I think the lack of brood has been caused by a lack of food. I do have some facts to back this up. Russians are more efficient in their brood rearing activeties and if the temperature is too cold to keep the brood warm or they don't have enough resources, they will stop brood production. Italians will maintain a large amount of brood until it gets too cold to cover it and keep it warm. Another idea as to why they are so short on brood is that their queen is dead, either by supersedure or my manipulations and inspections. This is very unlikely but, if it is the case, it's too late to buy a new queen and too late for the bees to raise their own so, I'd have to combine them with the Italian colony here. I really hope that isn't the case. If it does turn out to be a lack of nectar then, that is easily manageable. I'll be able to tell by how fast they drink the sugar syrup. I'll probably continue feeding them even if that isn't the problem just because they need to draw out comb and they need winter stores. I'll be checking up on them daily or at least every other day to see what the situation is. I hope they're alright.