Swarm Cells

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

Swarm cells cut from a swarmed hived. (May 30, 2012.)

The swarm cells were found at the bottom edge of the frames in the top box of the hive. I 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.

Epinephrine for Beekeepers

I picked up two shots of Epinephrine today in case I, or someone near my 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.
Continue reading

A Broodless Spring Hive

April 2019 Introduction: This was one of the first times I thought one of my hives had become queenless but wasn’t. Another time was in the fall, September or October, when I found no brood in a hive. That turned out to be normal behaviour for that time of year. Some queens, depending on genetics, stop laying in the fall as soon as it begins to get cold and the days get shorter. Finding no brood in the middle of May, however, especially when all my other hives were full of brood, seemed like a potentially queenless situation to me. But it wasn’t. A beekeeper causing too much stress and disturbance inside the hive can throw the queen off her rhythm and trigger defensive behaviour in the bees (which was a strong possibility during my first couple years of beekeeping), but in this case I think it was genetics again.

In general, queens with Carniolan and Russian genes seem more sensitive to environmental changes, shutting down early in the fall and starting up quickly in the spring. Italian queens, on the other hand, seem to lay eggs well into the fall but are slow to start up in the spring — which is what I think happened in this case.

The rest of this post has been heavily edited.

I checked one of my hives 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 cells about to be capped and some older capped drone cells, 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 (there’s not much to see):


Continue reading