We all make mistakes

Foolish, foolish woman. I managed to get through 3 hives on Saturday (digging very deeply: marking queens, cleaning propolis and burr comb from frames, etc.) before I had a visitor in my veil that told me I FORGOT TO ZIPPER THE VEIL TO MY JACKET!!! I’ll get to that in a minute. There aren’t many pictures because of that as well.

I was on a mission to clean the frames and make them easier to put back in the hives; cleaning the burr comb off the sides of the topbars helps to prevent any extra bee squishing. The bees neither like to be squished, nor do they like to have their frames scraped. I was asking for it.

We searched through the Aqua hive several times in an effort to find and mark the queen only to discover that she was already MARKED!! The Aqua hive has a 2014 queen. Wrong hive Anna… Then I remembered it was the Pink hive that had a new queen. That took some digging and searching but my hubby found her. It was this hive that reminded me I hadn’t zipped my veil down. I marked the new queens with a bright blue color. I use these pens which are easy to find: http://elmers.com/product/detail/W7571

Nice bright blue, should be easier to find her now. I prefer my queens marked because it lets me know whether the queen has been replaced.

Nice bright blue, should be easier to find her now. I prefer my queens marked because it lets me know whether the queen has been replaced.

Overall, we got quite a bit done and thankfully, I had anticipated it being a looong inspection. We were in the hives almost 3 hours. We managed to clean almost all of the frames in the Pink hive (bottom box 3 frames on the right still need to be cleaned). We condensed the Aqua hive to 2 deeps and took out empty frames. We marked the queens in the Pink hive and Orange hive. I spotted a bee with deformed wing so I may be doing a spring mite treatment. I should do a varroa sugar roll during my next inspection. I added medium foundationless frames to the top deep hive bodies to use for drone trapping as part of the IPM method for mite-control. The bees will draw drone comb on these frames and I can just cut it out. They will also build drone comb on the bottom of the frame because of the space left by a medium frame in a deep hive body. I’ll show you a picture when they’ve done it.

I colored the top of the frames pink to help me identify them more quickly. I had writtent the word "drone" on a frame and it has all but disappeared from the propolis, burr comb and constant foot traffic from the bees.

I colored the top of the frames pink to help me identify them more quickly. I had written the word “drone” on a frame and it has all but disappeared due to the propolis, burr comb and constant foot traffic from the bees.

On April 11th, I had moved the Purple hive queen over to the Orange hive and the Purple hive made queen cells, as planned. There were A LOT. So we moved 2 frames of capped queen cells into 2 nucs (one frame per nuc) and a frame of pollen/honey for food into each, the remainder of the queen cells remained in the Purple hive. The nucs were also each given a drawn frame and a frame of wax foundation. I’ll leave those queen cells to hatch, let the surviving queen mate and check back in a couple of weeks. The queens should emerge Saturday April 25. I would check for eggs starting May 2nd. My only concern is that the nights are cool right now (in the 30’s) and I hope it’s not going to be a problem for the developing queens.

Aqua and Pink had anywhere from 6-8 frames of brood, Orange had 4 or 5, it was most impressive. Several times I looked at frames and thought they were empty only to discover they were covered in eggs. It was insane. I’ll probably make 2 more nucs as mediums rather than deeps as the beekeepers in our area seem to be shifting to mostly mediums for the hive bodies.

Overall plan:
1. Do sugar rolls during next inspection
2. Make 2 more nucs (maybe)
3. This week I will need to add honey supers as the dandelions have started to bloom- DONE on Tuesday 4/21

As for the veil…as I proceeded to piss-off the Pink hive even more by continuing to clean frames despite their increasingly grumpy disposition, I heard a buzz that was way too close. I realized I had a bee in with me and figured I would just kill it. Well, then I looked down and realized the veil was not zippered to my jacket and suddenly I heard WAY more buzzing. CRAP! I had at least 10 bees in there and I walked quickly away from the hives (mind you I had just marked their queen and she was still sitting outside drying), I frantically tried to get the veil and jacket off. As I pulled it off the buzzing lessened somewhat until I realized I had at least 3 bees caught in my hair. Now, for those who are unaware, bees do not like being trapped. And if they feel entangled they will swiftly sting whatever is trapping them as a defense mechanism. Well, I bent over and was desperately trying to comb them out with my fingers only to feel them and hear them getting closer to my scalp–you have to understand that scalp stings are especially bad because there’s no “flesh” and so the venom will spread from the top of your head all the way down to your neck and face, it’s not pretty–I finally decided I was going to kill them instead and proceeded to slap them against my head and slap my hair between my hands. I succeeded for the most part. From getting my jacket and veil off to finally killing them, I ended up with only 2 stings: one right on the dead center of my neck and one under my shoulder blade. Not too bad when you think of it. I ran into the house, downed 800mg of Ibuprofen, put on another veil and shirt and went back out, less than 2 minutes is my guess. Thankfully my husband had put the queen back in the hive and had closed them up. Later on he said he watched me as I ran from the hives and when he saw the clothing start to come off he figured he better proceed with the hives…smart fella.

I later got a third sting (on my scalp, thank you very much) when I moved a frame that was left out by the Pink hive. I was like a magnet for the guard bees of the Pink hive, the INSTANT they saw me they actually LAUNCHED themselves at me. Anyway, I was stung but I must have kept the venom sac from pumping because I barely had a reaction. I actually combed a couple of dead bees out of my hair later on. What’s interesting is how you can easily read the “mood” of the bees. It becomes more than obvious when they’ve had enough of you, but you have to be smart enough to listen. Oh well. Nothing Benadryl and Ibuprofen can’t take care of.


The black locust has started to bloom and the bees are going nuts. We have been extremely fortunate to have remarkable weather: most days have been sunny with temperatures in the 80’s and below. A little rain to supply the plants and the reservoir, the vegetables and fruits.

I had added honey supers a few weeks ago and the bees had diligently started filling them up, drawing out the foundationless frames.

But when I saw my first black locust bloom last Wednesday and then progressively more black locust, I knew I needed to check the hives this weekend and man, was  I right! Oh my gosh, what was supposed to be a full inspection turned into a rapid honey super check with a mad dash to add supers and frames.

There were unassembled frames I was able to put together on Saturday, but I had to drive down to Jim’s on Sunday morning to get more supers and even more frames. A friend and I assembled frames and supers, I put small-cell foundation in the deep frames while she was given creative license to paint the supers at will. She seemed to enjoy that and I loved how many supers and frames we put together: 3 supers and one deep box, 40-50 medium foundationless frames and 30 deep frames. And everything was painted! What a relief, a crazy and productive weekend.

But I haven’t even updated you on the nuc! After aborting full hive inspections I wanted to look at the nucs. Hoping but not expecting to find queens, I pulled a frame out and hot-damn, found eggs! Also found the queen and marked her with a neon green dot.

Checked the other nuc, it still hadn’t built out one of the frames, whereas the other had biult out all of the frames. I wasn’t sure about it but when I pulled it out…eggs! Then I found that queen and marked her as well. Four strong hives and 2 good nucs!

I think I’m going to donate a nuc to a local nature center if they need it, otherwise, I may sell them. This may be a nice way to offset the costs of beekeeping, selling a few nucs every spring. This is an expensive hobby but I have to say, I just love it.

New queen

My purple hive, Demeter, had an open queen cell on June 30th. On July 4th it was capped and I calculated that the virgin should emerge July 11th. I waited 2 weeks before checking for brood just to make sure she had time to mate and I didn’t disturb them too soon. I quickly checked them July 28th and found a frame of capped brood, open brood intermixed with pollen and then approximately 2 frames of eggs and young larvae. I kept looking and looking and found her on the last frame of eggs. I was able to catch her and mark her though the plunger dropped on her rather quickly and I’m worried I maimed her, guess we’ll see. As always, click to enlarge the pictures.

Queen Pamela (it means "sweet" and "honeyed").

Queen Pamela (it means “sweet” and “honeyed”), marked pink.

Queen cups in the upper deep. These are always here, ready to be used if needed. They'll build them, break them down, build them somewhere else. These are in all my hives and yours too, don't panic. Take note if they become elongated, inside you'll find royal jelly which is a milky substance, and larva.

Queen cups in the upper deep. These are always here, ready to be used if needed. They’ll build them, break them down, build them somewhere else. These are in all my hives and yours too, don’t panic. Take note if they become elongated, inside you’ll find royal jelly which is a milky substance, and larva.

Probably one of the most beautiful sights for a beekeeper: worker larvae from a new queen.

Probably one of the most beautiful sights for a beekeeper: worker larvae from a new queen.

Successful supercedure!

New purple queen! Oh my goodness, my eyes were NOT deceiving me! Two weeks ago, I thought they were queenless and asked Connie for a frame of eggs. I decided to wait a week and see of they were really queenless. Just another week and look!
Remember to click on the pictures to make them bigger and see the details better.

Capped worker brood!

Capped worker brood! At least 2-3 frames of capped brood and another of open brood.

I thought I saw eggs and larvae last week but the sun wasn’t angled right for me to be SURE, until now. Man, what a relief. Not only is the genetics of the hive preserved, the hive is now queenright. The old queen was a 2011 queen and to show the age of the current reigning monarch, I was planning to mark her.

I found these at Walmart:

I used the bright blue one to mark her.

I used the bright blue one to mark her.

I tried using the press-in cage to mark her but that was NOT successful. I used the queen catcher to move her into a marking cage:

Queen in marking cage.

Queen in marking cage.

Marked queen. I added a little white dot to make her a little easier to spot :)

Marked queen. I added a little white dot to make her a little easier to spot 🙂

See her?

See her?

When using the press-in cage, I inadvertently marked other bees too.

When using the press-in cage, I inadvertently marked other bees too.

I tried to put the queen marking cage in between the frames and the cage was so mobbed with bees that she doesn’t appear to have room to leave:

You can feel the energy of these bees surrounding the queen.

You can feel the energy of these bees surrounding the queen, I love this picture.

I shook her into the bottom deep and left them alone. I plan to start feeding them at the end of June/beginning of July to get them ready for winter. I hope to be able to harvest from two hives next year, I have some serious honey demands to meet.

Why must they torment me?

Haven’t I been a good beekeeper? Or at least tried? I’ve fed them sugar and pollen patties when it looked like they needed help. I’ve bought special queens for them, leaving work early and driving an hour to get the majesties; keeping the last one warm in my scrub top on the windy and unseasonably cool day. I give them homes painted pretty colors, lots of room to expand with foundationless frames so they can build to their heart’s content, whatever massive-sized cells they want. I talk about them constantly, defend their virtues and play up their necessity in our food chain. I even let my son poke their “bee butts” (gloved, of course). I BLOG about them for heaven’s sake! Why the “woe is me” attitude you may wonder?? Let me fill you in on the inspection I just completed about 15 minutes ago.

As you know, ten days ago I recombined the nuc that was housing Queen Vivienne (my VSH queen) with Melissa who apparently was queenless. The queenlessness came about because they had many, many swarm cells in mid-July that I expected to result in a laying queen. When we checked on August 19th there were very few bees, no eggs, no larvae, some pollen, little honey. On August 19th it had been 37 days since there was a queen in the hive, and there was no evidence of one then. So I added the queen I already had in a nuc, saving Melissa the hive.

Ten days later (today) I checked on Melissa and my well-traveled Queen Vivienne to see how things were going. I didn’t look at the top box (which housed the queen I added) because I was intent on checking the medium and bottom deep for stores. This was the set-up: bottom deep, then a medium on top and then the added deep with the queen. There was newspaper between the medium and top deep for the combine, this was completely cleared out by the bees.The medium had A LOT of pollen and I saw many bees with pollen baskets so full and in the oddest shapes that they looked like someone had glued torn yellow paper to their legs. Super weird. The bottom deep had pretty much nothing, just a tiny bit of honey.

Now for the top deep: I pulled out the second frame from the end, saw some stores, nothing exciting. The third frame, I spotted her: a big, beautiful golden queen. (Not that bigger is better in a queen necessarily, but I think beekeepers like to imagine all that sperm and all those eggs just waiting to be laid…Does that sound weird? If you’re a beekeeper you understand!) But gosh darn it, where was her mark? Why, of COURSE there’s no mark because she’s NOT the queen I put in there!! @!#$! Well, I knew I needed to mark her so I set her frame off to the side by itself but still in the hive body so she wouldn’t crawl over to another frame and make me hunt for her again. I started wondering “What if Queen Vivienne is still in there? What are the chances?” Let me tell you…100%. After looking at a couple of frames with ridiculous numbers of eggs (I’m comparing to last time), I spotted my queen. MY queen. The one I know. I hadn’t marked her all that definitively the first time so there were two itty-bitty tiny specks of paint that identified her as Queen Vivienne. I also moved her over to the other side of the hive body so she wouldn’t escape me either.

I didn’t have my marking cage or pens (of course not, why would I have something when I needed it?) so I high-tailed it back to the house and got my white and yellow marker with an idea…

If I marked both queens yellow I wouldn’t know which one stayed. The floozy, I mean interloper, excuse me…I mean other queen, I marked with both a yellow and white dot. It ended up being yellow at the top of her thorax and white at the bottom. Queen Vivienne I remarked yellow. This time it was a nice mark; I’ve become more brave with each marking, especially when there’s a spare queen!

Here’s the kicker: I saw queen cups. No big deal, I always see them and when I look in them, they’re empty. So they’ve become a nothing cup to me. Taking into account how this inspection has been going, what do you think I found? Not nothing let me tell you…but eggs. At that point I started cursing them and chastising them that they were going to supercede themselves into oblivion and I didn’t care! I actually do care but I didn’t want them to know that.

I added 2 quarts of invert sugar syrup and made all entrances the smallest one (my big hive has had the tiny entrance since spring and is doing fine). After watching them for a few minutes I had to switch out the ventilated inner cover for a solid one because there were quite a few bees investigating the top (where they could smell the sugar syrup) and I just wasn’t sure if those were “stranger” bees. Even honey bees need to be aware of “stranger danger.” If only there was some way to safely spray your bees a particular color, you’d know if one hive was robbing another, ha!

So at this point, I’m guessing the new queen is from one of the swarm cells and those cells were on frames from Queen Vivienne. Granted I have heard that bees will move eggs into queen cups but I’m going to assume that this queen is Vivienne’s daughter. So do I take out Queen Vivienne again so I don’t lose her?

What am I going to do? I need to think and my brain is starting to hurt.

Addendum: When I look at bee math, it says 28 days + or- 5 days until a laying queen. This would give 33 days on the high end and 23 on the low end. This queen was not laying at 37 days but laying by the 47th, so this queen was >37 days but <47. They just keep you guessing. If I didn’t fear losing the VSH queen I would be curious to see which one survived, the bees will choose the well-mated queen. Plus I have those queen cups with eggs to contend with.

The bees have decided…

That I apparently, need to have 3 hives. It’s amazing what has happened in the past week: I added the nuc with the VSH queen (Queen Vivienne, do you like the name?) in a newspaper combine on Sunday July 8th with Melissa. On July 8th, I first looked for the old queen (Queen Maria) two times, I finally found her and removed her into my queen marking cage with plunger. I set the cage under the pine tree to help keep her cool, there were about 3-4 attendants in there. I went on to look at Demeter, saw Queen Penelope and the hive looked really good though the bottom deep was essentially empty.

Two deeps, 3 mediums and a shallow. The bottom deep was empty, the shallow had some wonky frames and the mediums were loaded with honey.

We harvested some frames of honey from Demeter on two separate inspections (Demeter is the stronger hive) and can I just tell you that the foundationless frames worked like a DREAM!!! I had a hard plastic spatula and all we did was go around the edges with the spatula and the whole thing dropped into the bucket. We put the empty frame back in the hive. It was perfect. As for the plastic frames, that was a pain. Since you know I don’t really want to use an extractor, I just used the same spatula to scrape off the comb with honey, and that was really messy. We saved several bees that ended up stuck in the honey bucket. By the way, that 4 gallon bucket was free. I called my local grocery store and spoke to the bake shop. I asked them if they had any empty frosting/fondant buckets and I picked it up on the way home from work! It has a handle and a lid and it’s food grade plastic.

Still on July 8th, after harvesting the frames I returned them to Demeter for the bees to clean up. When we were done with Demeter, I went back to Melissa to merge it with the nuc (with the new queen). We opened her up and placed two layers of newspaper on top. Why two? Since they had JUST had their queen and were queenless for a short time (less than an hour) I thought adding extra protection may work better. I cut a tiny-tiny slit in 2 corners of the bottom paper, and then the same thing at opposite corners of the top paper.

The VSH queen with her open brood on top, the old hive below. I used a double layer of newspaper. Just in case

I didn’t see much paper outside on the ground over the subsequent week and figured these bees just did what the bees did last year: made a small hole and just kept going in and out of the small hole. Boy, was I wrong:

On July 13th.

I managed to spot the new queen, big, golden and beautiful: I marked her with the new, non-terrifying queen marking cage and it worked just fine. I managed to mark her again after I freed her because I find the cage doesn’t hold her still, just limits her escape. The one advantage could see to the British queen marking cage is that the spikes go all around and if you use wax as your foundation, you can plunge the spikes down as far as necessary to keep her immobile without squishing.

Queen Vivienne, my VSH queen

But gosh darn it…guess what I saw during the brief inspection on July 13th? Queen cells. Oh so many queen cells. At first I thought they were superceding Queen Vivienne but as we looked on other frames there were other queen cells, probably over a dozen and we didn’t even look at all of the frames. Oiy (I seem to write that a lot). There were also a ton of bees, I mean a TON. I saw only one frame that was undrawn. With many queen cells, essentially no empty frames for them to expand into and loads of bees, they had swarm prep written all over them. You know the adage, “A swarm in May…”

What to do, what to do? I just kept hearing in my head all of the other advice I’ve read: “If I see queen cells, I pull them into a nuc and make a split.” But if they’re swarming I don’t want to lose my new VSH queen, I just got her! Plus I don’t know how long the VSH trait remains expressed through the generations. How many daughters later do I need to replace the queen? I need to ask Adam. So to hopefully prevent a swarm, I pulled out Queen Vivienne, put her into a nuc with 3 frames mixed of pollen, honey and brood. I didn’t worry about getting brood because there is a laying queen in there. I added 2 undrawn foundation frames. I did shake in about 3-4 frames of bees but I couldn’t use the frames that had a good mass of bees because those frames had active queen cells and if you shake a queen cell you can really damage the developing larva. Don’t want to do that! So I got what I could. At least Melissa now has the ability to make a queen, I still have the Queen Vivienne and she’ll keep laying.

Queen Vivienne, back in the nuc. Oh, for heavens sake! I’m moving this  into a deep hive box. I already have all of the trappings for another small hive: screened bottom board, screened top, outer cover. So, three hives it is.

Back to Queen Maria: I went back to her under the tree and found a slew of bees on her cage. Poor things they just wanted their queen. I started to take her toward the house (I planned to keep her in the utility room until I figured out what to do with her) when I noticed the workers LEAVING the mesh. I started thinking “Uh oh” (this is how slow I can be sometimes) “If they’re coming out now, then that means they’ll come out later when they’re in the house…that’s not good.” I also happened to notice at this time that there were many, many more bees in the cage with her than I added originally. Holy crap they had crawled in there with her! There were about 20 workers in there! Could you even imagine what would have happened in the house as they came out? Ugh. So I got a piece of cheese cloth and a rubber band, covered the mesh with the cheese cloth and I think there was adequate air supplied. I gave them a big smear of honey on Sunday and Monday and when I went to check them Wednesday, [sob] I found the queen and one attendant dead. The others were very sluggish. Do you think there wasn’t enough air or food? I felt soooooooooooo horrible. I had planned to go into the hive on Wednesday to pull some frames to make a nuc for Queen Maria because I felt terrible for keeping her from being a queen. But I was too late. Seeing Queen Vivienne so big and beautiful with so many frames of brood and eggs already, I felt a little better. But still.

On to the gardening front, we’ve harvest >60 pounds of tomatoes since Sunday the 8th. And it’s only going to get worse.

Just a drop in the bucket, as of tonight we have 65 pounds harvested in 8 days.

Cherokee purple I believe.

A hive! A hive! My kingdom for a hive!

Goodness, what would you do if you found out you had 4 reigning monarchs and only 3 hives?

That’s exactly what we found at Connie’s bee yard on Sunday. The uber-mini nuc we made last weekend came from the green hive. We had taken the frames that had eggs in them hoping (with fingers crossed!) that we got the queen and MAY stave off a potential swarm. Before looking at the nuc, we checked the green hive which Connie calls Pistachio and found a lovely fat queen. I used my new queen marking cage (a less terrifying version of the British one): here and it worked very nicely. It doesn’t hold the queen firmly so she keeps running around but at least she’s confined to one area. So we marked her royal highness and two frames later find ANOTHER one. A little fatter this one I thought and I marked her too.

As we were starting to look at the frames, I noticed the brood cells (the bees were emerging) were surrounded by honey. In a normal brood frame the brood is clustered in the middle in an oblong shape, like an American football and the honey is along the top edge, with pollen in a band around the brood:

Capped brood surrounded by honey at EDGES, pollen is between the honey and brood. This is the way a brood frame should look: brood touching brood.

But this frame had uncapped honey in all the holes left by emerging brood. This is what is referred to as “backfilling the broodnest.” This may indicate swarming intent, or it just may mean they need more space for stores. What made me think they were NOT preparing to swarm was the presence of over 2 frames filled with eggs. I think I remember 3 frames of eggs but I can’t be sure. Usually a hive won’t swarm when there is a lot of open brood, there may be some but not several full frames-worth I would think…

Anyway, we saw lots of capped queen cells and open cells:

What a perfect picture: capped queen cell on the right, looks like an elongated peanut and an open queen cell on the left, you’re looking right into it and there is larva right inside! As always, click to make bigger.

After looking at Pistachio, we went into the nuc and found lots of queen cells, some closed, some open. I removed them in preparation to drop the sole 2 frames into the purple hive and as I was double-checking to make sure I got ALL of the queen cells, I spotted c-shaped larvae, the kind that’s 3-4 days old. I thought “Oh my lord” and looked for eggs, and there they were. Not a lot, but clearly at least a few dozen of them, they were perfectly placed in the middle of the cells and only one per cell. Oiy. Clearly the nuc had a queen too. But based on the fact that there were just a few eggs, I don’t think we took the old queen (she would have had more frames laid) but rather, a virgin had just mated and started to lay. There were supercedure cells in there though and so they were not happy with that queen for whatever reason. After debating what to do, we decided to pull the 2 frames back out and put them back into the nuc. If there STILL were supercedure cells on Sunday, I’ll try to find the queen and take her out. Here is a queen cell that I removed from the nuc, before the final swipe, you can see the larva right in the middle:

See the little larva? It’s surrounded by royal jelly which the bees secrete to feed all larvae for the first 3 days, after that they feed bee-bread to the workers but only the queen continues to eat royal jelly. That is what she will consume for the rest of her life. It’s a bitter, white jelly-like substance.

I didn’t have time to look through the purple hive completely so I’ll do that on Sunday. We’ll mark the queen if we see her. The plan is to let the green hive sort out which queen stays–this is not something you can decide for them as they will invariably make the best choice for themselves and you have no idea how they do this. Don’t mess it up for them!

I wanted to include a super-cool picture of festooning bees we captured:

No one is quite sure why bees festoon but one idea is that they do this during wax-building.

Hive Inspection 7/24/2011

This is a delayed post because I’ve been distracted by Lisa See’s “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.” Definitely a good read.

Went into the hives on Sunday, here are the results.


  • Set-up: 10 frame Deep brood box
  • Number of frames being worked: 5? Can’t really remember
  • Queen spotted: Yes
  • Frames of brood:2.5 frames with large areas
  • Type of brood identified: eggs, larvae and capped
  • Food: Quart jar of 1:1 sugar syrup with HBH added, 1/4 used. Left on.

Overall Impression: Improving, clearly more bees are present. In the picture below you’ll see every single empty cell, which used to be capped brood, is now filled with eggs!  They really have no stores. I was really glad to see the queen was okay, I was fretting all week that I had ruined her or the workers “took her out.”

Plan: Feed until the cows come home. Make it 2:1 sugar syrup.


Eggs, look closely!


Same frame, can you spot the queen?? She's toward the center right, on the bottom.

Capped brood

Same frame, other side. Lots of capped brood, good laying pattern.


  • Set-up: 10 frame Deep brood chamber
  • Number of frames being worked: 8.5
  • Queen spotted: Yes and marked white
  • Frames of brood: 5+
  • Type of brood identified: capped and larvae
  • Food: Switched to hive top feeder, added about 1/2 gallon.

Overall Impression: Doing very well, expanding. Using the 5.1mm foundation I added. It’s neat to see the capped honey around the brood–they just started working this frame a couple of weeks ago. Impressive little bees. They have not expanded into the 2nd deep I added on July 19th.

Plan: Check the feeder to make sure no bees drown. Figure out a way to add pollen patties.

I marked the queen in this hive, made a much better job of it this time 🙂

Here is the 5.1mm foundation in Demeter:


5.1mm foundation. You can see the wires along the bottom frame where some wax broke off during installation.

Another update this weekend! To my hive checklist, I’m going to add “number of frames covered by bees” to help me gauge population. I need to figure out a way to take notes.

Hive Inspection 7/17/2011 and Marking a Queen

First, let’s go over how not to mark a queen. In my case, it would be not enthusiastically. Ugh. After watching videos on youtube and reading about recommended paints on beesource, I bought a white enamel paint pen from Testor. The queen was made this year and this year is a white paint year. As the life expectancy of a queen is about five years, the paint colors rotate every five years with a different paint color for each one of the 5 years.

For years ending in 1 or 6 the color is white (or gray), for years 2 or 7 it is yellow; 3 or 8,  red; 4 or 9, green; 5 or 0, blue.

I have a queen marking cage that looks like this

You get the queen to walk in there, oddly she resists, and then press the plunger very slowly until she is held ever so gently in place and you dab her with the marker. Or in my case, drench her. Oiy. Well, it might not be so bad. I definitely covered her thorax and some of her left wing where it attaches to the thorax. I just seriously hope I haven’t covered her spiracles or maimed her so much that the others don’t recognize her.The paint dried really quickly which was nice.

I originally purchased the marking cage because one of the blogs I follow uses the marking cage to keep the queen safe during an inspection. I really like that idea and will put that into practice as I get better with inspections. Right now I’m just trying to get used to handling all of the equipment and looking at frames without killing everyone. By the way, I use a frame rest and frame grips and I love them both. I especially like the frame grips for the honey frames as those can be really heavy and slippery in the heat.

Hive inspection results:

Melissa (orange) with Queen Maria (Marc’s queen = a queen name starting with “M”)

  • Set-up: 10 frame Deep brood box
  • Number of frames being worked: 4 (unchanged)
  • Queen spotted: Yes and marked white
  • Frames of brood:2 frames with small areas (unchanged)
  • Type of brood identified: capped and larvae
  • Food: Quart jar of 1:1 sugar syrup with HBH added, 1/4 used. Exchanged for a fresh bottle.

Overall Impression: Still struggling. It needs a “critical mass” of bees to allow the queen to lay more eggs. Right now there just aren’t a lot of bees in there.

Plan: May add a frame of capped brood from Demeter to boost the numbers  a bit. The other option is to combine them for the winter. I may end up with one hive overall come September. I would nix this queen in favor of Penelope. Also may change their food to higher sugar concentrate to facilitate evaporation.

Demeter (purple) with Queen Penelope (Peter’s queen)

  • Set-up: 10 frame Deep brood chamber
  • Number of frames being worked: 8
  • Queen spotted: No
  • Frames of brood: 3-4 with obvious expansion onto new foundation
  • Type of brood identified: capped and larvae
  • Food: Quart of syrup with HBH, empty (gave them Melissa’s unused food)

Overall Impression: Doing very well, expanding nicely. Scraped off burr comb from the tops of the frames. This nuc started with a boatload of bees. It’s amazing the difference between an adequate and an inadequate workforce.

Plan: May need another brood box by Wednesday. Better make some more frames!

Sorry there are no pictures today, I was kind of thrown off by the queen fiasco. Better luck with the next one!