Monday, July 21, 2014

Inspection Notes: Guest Inspector

My sister's family is visiting for awhile, and her son has been wanting to see the hives for awhile. He's my favorite nephew, so I did an inspection just for him.

My favorite (and only) nephew
Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera out to the beeyard, which was just as well, because I was busy talking and pointing thing out to everyone, so my sis supplied today's photos.

Watching pollen come in

My son, nephew, and Dad all peeking through the observation window
Since 7 & 8 year olds don't have much of an attention span, especially when it's hot outside & they're covered head to toe & wearing winter boots (my nephew's idea), we started with a nuc. I chose to to begin with Peach since I knew she had some capped honey, which I let everyone taste right there in the bee yard. It was a pale golden color, very light and delicate in both color and flavor. Could it be basswood? Whatever it came from, it was just fantastic. Normally, I wouldn't take honey out of a nuc that was only half full, but the rest of the comb was overflowing with nectar, so we took this little bit as a special treat for the boys. 
Honey! Nom! Nom! Nom!

Of course, once they had a tub of honey, the guys ran away to strip off their hot clothing and to play video games in the comfort of air conditioning. I took just the quickest of peeks in the rest of the hives, mainly because I was already out there.

I discovered that the adage "You can make bees, or you can make honey" is true in more ways than one. Usually, it applies to making lots of splits or packages vs. keeping large colonies that can pack away nectar during a flow. However, I also discovered that during a brood break, the bees having nothing else to do, store crazy amounts of nectar.  Of course, we're having an amazing flow this year so I'm sure that's contributing factor, but nearly every cell in every hive was overflowing with liquid gold.

As for brood, I didn't do full inspections, but Peach was the only hive that showed any signs of brood or eggs. They were a bit sparse, which is not unusual for a new queen, though in a good pattern. So although I still haven't seen her majesty, I know for a fact that Peach is queenright. As for the other hives, I'm not yet worried about a lack of brood. It might be another week or two yet.

The other day, I mentioned hearing Persephone piping, and I did find her. I really wished I had my camera (or that my sister hadn't gone off for a nap) because she was positively striking. Actually, I almost missed her because she was so dark and shadowy. She was completely jet black except for the sliveriest (yes, I'm making that word up) of golden bands circling her abdomen. Very fitting for a bee named after the queen of the underworld, I thought.

Austeja's sororicidal queen was also still piping and hunting for capped queen cells. I didn't do a full inspection on her either, but I saw one remaining capped queen cell, though there might have been more on other bars. The other queen cells were either open or in the process of being cleaned out. This has me wondering -- do queens wait until they've murdered all their rivals before taking a mating flight? I've heard that a new queen can take up to 15 day to perform a mating flight. I know weather is one reason to delay a flight. However, I was also wondering if she needs to get rid of any possible competition before taking off. Does anyone know the answer?

Future beekeepers, I hope
Oh! I nearly forgot! My husband and I have had a long-standing debate about the lawn. He likes short, mown Kentucky bluegrass. I like tall flowering weeds. This argument has resulted in a lawn with crop circles. Yesterday, though, I let him taste some clover honey out of Austeja. A couple hours later he said to me, "I used to think you were just being crazy, but you've won me over. I'm on board with planting clover in the yard now." Hallelujah! I have a convert!


  1. What a sweet post! Future beekeepers, indeed. You're an inspiration!

    Meanwhile, in my little corner of the Pacific Northwest, we've got Varroa [insert menacing music here]. I haven't yet determined the extent of it or if/how it should be dealt with, but gads, i was kind of hoping our hives would decide not to teach us anything new this year! :)


    1. Aww, thanks! I'm not sure I deserve such high praise, but I appreciate your kind words! :-)

      LOL! Your comment about the bees not teaching you anything new this year had me rolling! Every inspection is an adventure isn't it? No matter how many books/articles I read, no matter how many videos I watch, every inspection feels a brand new lesson.

    2. It is, and i love it! And so far, i've enjoyed the little episodes of problem solving, but this varroa is kind of throwing me because its a topic of such controversy. Honestly, i was inclined to live with a bit of a mite load, but when i posted my most recent inspection photos on that regional board, someone with amazing eyes noticed a worker bee with deformed wing virus. Ut oh! So it looks like it's bad enough that i'll need to figure out a corse of action, even if it's just a confectioners sugar dust (which i now have in my cabinet). We shall see!

      You definitely deserve high praise. Your blog is among the best i've seen, which is why i have it on my home page. :)

    3. Oh, no, I'm so sorry to hear about your bees. :( I hope that however you decide to treat them, it works out. I hope you'll keep me posted, too, about what you use and its effectiveness. I had some mites last year, but, I never did anything about it, so you are blazing uncharted territory for me!

      And thank you so much for the kind words. I'm grinning from ear to ear. :D

  2. Not only does clover make good honey, it's also fun to find 4-leafed clovers. I've gotten a lot this year from my patch in the bee garden and I took a couple of the neighbor kids on a hunt for some a couple of weeks back. As a kid, I spent many an hour with my grandmother looking for 4-leaf clovers in her yard in Vermont. We'd dry them and paste them on little pieces of paper. I still carry one in my wallet for good luck that's dated August 26, 1973. They always remind me of those summers in Vermont. This year I gave them to graduating high schoolers and my college graduating son. He came home the other day and said that his wallet went through the washer and the clover got destroyed. So, we went out in the garden and found a new one! I always attribute my good fortune to the 4-leaf clovers.

    1. You are lucky!!! I bet the kids loved getting those 4-leaf clovers. What a great graduating gift! Amazing that they last for so long!

      My oldest son is really good at finding them, too. Once, he even found a 5-leaf clover! However, I think I heard the record for most leaves on a clover is something like 16, so I've been challenging him to find one of those. If he ever does, I'll let him get a lottery ticket, too. :)


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