5 responses

  1. Rusty
    July 7, 2011

    Phillip,

    Just a couple of thoughts:

    Your errant bees are not scouts. Scouts don’t start looking for a home until after the swarm has landed somewhere. The change in flight path could be due to a change in nectar source.

    Although a swarm is possible, swarming drastically drops off after the summer solstice. Bees detect the days getting shorter and usually the queen’s laying slows down. That’s not to say a swarm can’t happen, but it is less likely than it was a few weeks ago.

    Cloudy, rainy, or very humid weather can make the bees ornery, too. It’s hard to say, but crankiness is usually cyclic. They will probably calm down in a bit.

    • Phillip
      July 7, 2011

      Thanks, Rusty. Like I said, I don’t know what’s going on. I’m just speculating when I don’t really know anything and I don’t have time to do much research. (I’ve been trying to read a novel in my spare time for the past month. I just can’t find the time.) I hope the bees start playing nice soon. The cats are virtually attacked every time they’re out back, and us humans aren’t doing much better. We see bees flying around the windows of our house and our back door like they’re looking for something, waiting for us to come out so they can get us. It really looks like they’re scouting out the territory getting ready for an attack. I know we’re still new at it, but we’ve never seen anything like this before.

      Hive #1, the hive that’s overloaded with drones, looks like it’s ready to boil over with bees. I’m curious what we’re going to find during this Saturday’s inspection. I think all the mean bees are coming from that hive. The bees must be cooking in the heat. 90°F is the average high from the past week. If this kind of grumpiness is typical with this heat, I have to take better measures to make sure the hive is cooler. I wouldn’t be able to keep bees if it was like this on a regular basis.

      I’m looking to secure some land behind our shed where we have a big open field perfect for bees. Four hives in our back yard, especially if the bees are in a bad mood, won’t be good for us or our neighbours.

      We’ll see how it goes this weekend.

  2. Emily Heath
    July 7, 2011

    If you get time (and can get close enough!) inspect the frames closely for eggs. If the hive has been queenless for a while you’re likely to have laying workers in there laying more than one egg to a cell. It might be a good idea to check this before introducing one of your lovely new queens as a hive of laying workers are very difficult to re-queen and will often ungratefully kill any new queen introduced to them.

    The famous English beekeeper Ted Hooper (author of Guide to Bees & Honey, 2010, sadly now passed away) recommends that the only sure way of finding out whether a hive is queenless or not is to put in a test comb of very young larvae and eggs from another hive. Put this in the centre of the ‘queenless’ hive’s brood nest area. If the colony is queenless they will make queen cells on this frame which can be seen four or five days later. If they have not made queen cells they have a queen in there.

    The only times the test comb method doesn’t always work is immediately after a colony has swarmed or when you have laying workers. A colony which has just had a swarm is likely to make more queen cells in another attempt to swarm (even if they have a virgin queen in there) and laying workers may just ignore the chance to make queen cells.

    Sorry for going on for ages, good luck!

  3. Phillip
    July 9, 2011

    Our beekeeping experience is gradually downhill. We may not keep the hives in our backyard anymore. We’re still constantly pestered by one or two bees, and I’ve been stung a few times no where near the hives, just sitting out back reading a book. That gets old fast.

    If this is typical bee behaviour for July, I wouldn’t recommend anyone keeping bees in a small backyard like ours. Who wants to hang out with mean bees?

    We get a new queen tomorrow. We’ll inspect both of the hives then. If we find signs of a queenless hive, then we know where the new queen is going.

    If the bees don’t start playing nice after that, we’ll have to relocate the hives or get rid of them altogether. This is not what we signed up for.

  4. Phillip
    July 10, 2011

    Note to self: Always inspect the hives on Saturday if possible, because the sunny forecast for Sunday can easily change to wind and rain overnight.

    We don’t have rain today, but we’ve got 100kph winds barrelling down on us. That’s about 62 miles per hour winds. We won’t be inspecting the hives or introducing the queen today, not any time soon anyway.

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