June 26th, 2012

We added a frame of brood with a swarm cell on it to a split hive last week that we thought was queenless. Turns out it wasn’t queenless, because by the looks of it, the queen inside the swarm cell was destroyed — stung to death by a queen that was already in the hive, then pulled dead from the swarm cell by worker bees. If a queen had emerged from the swarm cell, the cell would be open on the bottom, not the side. The hive had several frames of freshly capped brood when we checked it yesterday. I don’t think a week old queen could mate and begin laying that fast. Thus ends my interpretation of the above photo. I could be wrong.

June 26th, 2012

We inadvertently took a half decent photo of royal jelly during our hive inspections yesterday. Click the photo for a close up view that shows the larvae floating in the royal jelly.

Royal jelly is a white, gooey secretion that’s fed to all honey bee larvae for their first three days. Larvae intended to become queens are given a gigantic dose of royal jelly that more or less keeps them going for the duration of their development.
Read on . . . »

June 18th, 2012

Our hives in their new rural location, about 16km (or 10 miles) from our house in the city.

The first inspection of our hives in their new location was great. It was so much more relaxed knowing we could take our time and not worry about nosey neighbours. We’ll only be able to see the bees once every week or two, but the change of scene is worth the temporary inconvenience (until we get our own vehicle). It feels like a whole new world of beekeeping. All the hives seemed to be humming when we arrived around 1:00pm. I’ll write a summary of our inspections in the comments for this post. But in a nutshell, our hives aren’t in perfect shape, but we feel more comfortable dealing with whatever comes our way now that we don’t have suspicious neighbours close by making us feel hurried.

Here’s a slideshow that shows how we hived our swarm just before we left:
Read on . . . »

Day 700: We checked on our hives at their new home in the country today and we love it. We even captured a swarm and had a great time.

I normally avoid posting photos of myself, but my face is obscured in this one and I sort of look like a biker with a handlebar moustache, a fat head and no neck. That doesn’t look anything like me. Anyway, that’s about half the swarm I’m holding. It was big. It was thick. And the bees were so calm, we were able to cut the branch off the tree, not exactly in a delicate manner, and they didn’t budge from their cluster. It was a text book swarm cluster.
Read on . . . »

May 30th, 2012

Here are two swarm cells, two of a dozen or so that we found in one of our hives about five days ago.

The swarm cells were found at the bottom edge of the frames in the top box of the hive. We found a similar scene in another hive a day later and took some swarm prevention measures that I’ll describe in detail as soon as I have the time. Many momentous events have occurred. Changes are on the way.

May 22nd, 2012

3:13pm. May 22, 2012. St. John’s, Newfoundland. Temperature: 31°C. Check it out:

I had to post the photo because otherwise no one would ever believe me.

Updates: It went up to 31.1°C while I was writing this. 3:56pm update: 31.6°C. 4:25pm update: 31.9°C. 6:40pm update: It’s 25°C. The digital thermometer may have reached 32°C around 5 o’clock, but I was too busy painting hive boxes too check. The bees were out in full force from 10am to just about now. I added ventilation rims to all the hives and what passes for a screened inner cover to Hive #1, our three-deep hive that’s literally busting through the roof with bees. Today was a good day to be a honey bee in St. John’s.

May 22nd, 2012

A queen cup (a.k.a. a cell cup) is a cell the bees build in case it becomes necessary to create a new queen in a hurry, and it can look like this:

Read on . . . »

May 19th, 2012

I picked up two shots of Epinephrine today in case I, or someone near our honey bees, has an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting. I don’t want anyone dying on my watch.

It’s called an EpiPen. Basically it’s a shot of adrenalin. Remember Uma Thurman’s shot to the heart in Pulp Fiction? Not exactly the same thing, but close enough. It’s for emergencies.

I had to get a prescription for the EpiPen from my family doctor. I explained that I keep bees in my backyard and I’d like to have Epinephrine on hand just to be safe. My doctor asked me if I had any known allergies. I said no. She checked my medical file and wrote me the prescription.
Read on . . . »

May 15th, 2012

THE FOLLOWING WAS LAST UPDATED ON MAY 21, 2012.

NOTE: This post doesn’t provide much information about queenless hives (or queenless colonies). It’s an inquiry into a specific hive that I suspected was queenless. That’s all.

Well, I think we may have our first queenless hive. Or something.

I checked our one foundationless Langstroth hive today for the first time this year and saw no sign of the queen. No worker brood of any kind. Just a lot of empty cells and plenty of honey on the sides. I saw about twenty or thirty open drone brood about to be capped and some older capped drone cells — possibly from a laying worker — but not much else. No fresh day-old eggs. No sealed worker brood. Nothing. Here’s a quick video of some of the broodless frames I found during the inspection:


Read on . . . »

May 12th, 2012

Today, just for fun, I stuck the camera underneath our foundationless hive while it temporarily had only a screened bottom board. We’re concerned about our foundationless hive because we don’t see nearly as many bees coming and going from it as we do from our other three hives. Perhaps the two-year-old queen is failing. Perhaps it’s normal behaviour for a foundationless hive. Whatever the case may be, our foundationless hive will be the first hive we inspect once we have a good day for it. Here’s what the camera saw (it’s a 51-second video):

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