Sunday, May 17, 2015

At a Crossroads and a Weird Reaction

It's been a week since the packages were installed, so I figured it was time to check. I'm not sure whether my blondes are simply taking advantage of the comb I gave them or if it's because of their Italian nature, but they are packing away syrup/nectar. Eggs are present, but not nearly as many as I'd like to see. It's weird to see the difference between them and my Russian/Carniolan mutts who make brood like crazy in the spring, but don't store nearly as much.

Ants were starting to make a few nests on top of Persephone's bars, so I chucked the feeders. She has enough syrup/nectar stored that I don't think she'll miss the feeders too much. I also used my tried-and-true remedy of applying orange oil on top of the bars.

Austeja, my 2nd-year hive, looks like she wants to swarm. A lot of the drone brood has emerged, and a lot of backfilling appears to be going on. I gave her 3-4 empty bars hoping to stave off any queen cell construction for a few days at least. So now, I'm at a crossroads. By Thursday, I hope to decide whether I'll try to keep her going without any breaks or if I'll split her. On the one hand, a brood break would reduce mite loads in the colony. I've only seen one or two, but that doesn't mean the mites aren't in there.  On the other, it would be really nice to get a real harvest.

Bloomwise, the dandelions are nearly over, which means that we can now mow our lawn. I've seen bees working henbit and ajuga, though. The honeysuckle looks like it will be on it's way out soon, too, but blueberries and viburnum are flowering. My raspberries and black cherries have buds, and so does the basswood. Tulip poplars have got to be coming into flower soon, too. Clover will start sometime in June. Fingers crossed for a bountiful flow and loads of honey.

Speaking of honey, I cut out a bit of cross-comb out of Austeja that was full of honey. My parents, children, and I thought it was delicious. My husband took one bite of the comb and had an allergic reaction. I can't figure it out. The comb and honey didn't have any venom in them, but his throat immediately began to itch and he started vomiting just as if he'd been stung. I'm pretty sure it can't be a reaction to the honey since I use honey all the time when I cook. However, my propolis toothpaste evokes a similar reaction from him. Could the wax have aggravated his allergies, too? Or might it have been the pollen in the honey? Bizarre.


  1. Hi Julie, sorry to hear your man is sick by your wares.
    There is a good chance that if you cook with honey the heat with denature any of the allergenic proteins sufficiently that he doesn't have a reaction.
    May be try topically applying the honey, propolys and wax to his skin and see if he a localised reaction to any/all of them. This might be a better way than waiting to see if he vomits :)
    The dandilions here are still going strong (I have some pics I was going to put on my blog) but the bees are MUCH more interested in the oil seed rape (canola) still. Happy bee'ing!

    1. You're probably onto something there. Heat would definitely alter the proteins. However, I also use raw honey in salad dressings, etc., with no reaction. Maybe the amount is too small to cause a noticeable reaction, though. BTW, he only seems to be allergic to MY honey, which is weird. I really don't know what's happening. Maybe the raw honey I've been purchasing isn't truly raw. I'll have to see if he'll agree to a local test on his skin. Thanks for that idea! Besides, I'm always looking for novel ways to irritate my DH. Muahahahaha!

  2. I'm glad that spring is coming along in your neck of the woods! My Italians are also not making comb very fast, nor are they taking much of the sugar water. I think like yours, they are taking advantage of already having good comb to start with. Sarah's queen does not seem to be laying very well, but it could still be early. We've had constant rain for most of the month - I've almost gotten 1/2 our annual rainfall in the last 30 days! That's kept them cooped up, which has me perplexed on why they aren't taking the feed.

    Does Austeja have full fledged queen cells, or just queen cups? My BnB2 had a lot of drone brood which has now all hatched, and a bunch of queen cups that are just staying as empty cups. When I looked in this weekend, they're not making any new drone cells, have 8 frames of mostly nectar and pollen and 6 frames of brood. Adding in some space has seemed to slow them down, to I'm not afraid of them swarming anytime soon (famous last words). So, maybe patience is required for Austeja?

    That's so weird about your DH's reaction to only your honey. I'll be interested to know if Dewey's suggestions work. Dandelions are mostly past here. My clover is starting to bloom and the irises and peonies will be in full bloom if it ever stops raining. Hope your fence keeps the bears away this year!

    1. Rain is a mixed blessing, isn't it? Hope the sun starts shining for you soon, although the bees sound like they're making it work since they've got 8 frames of nectar and pollen (without the help of your feeders). You installed them about a month ago, right? So they should start booming soon. Hopefully, Sarah's brood pattern will improve, too.

      As of Sunday, Austeja had just a few queen cups (no cells), but I thought they looked kind of slick. There weren't any eggs or larvae in them, though. I keep peeking in the observation window. No queen cells yet, though. Anyway, I haven't made up my mind yet, but I guess I'll have to soon since I'd like to make any splits by the end of this month.

    2. You've probably used the Google to look things up about honey allergies, but I found this one:

      interesting in that 3/4 of the patients were allergic to dandelion honey, so maybe your DH needs to mow more often. ;-) It also seems that those allergic to bees are more likely to have honey allergies.

      I also thought that I could see the queen cups looking like they were getting frosted through the window, but inspection after inspection proved me wrong. One thing that came up at a recent talk was that colonies that have been created from a swarm might have a swarming instinct and will continue to do so. Maybe a requeening on the split would be in order instead of using what they grow?

      Still raining - not supposed to let up until the end of May!

    3. Interesting abstract! We did have a lot of dandelions this spring, and the particular comb I cut may very well have contained dandelion honey. Michael Bush and Mike Palmer have also suggested that there may have been propolis in the comb (which we know my DH is allergic to). Michael says that bees often use propolis to strengthen the corners of the cells and to strengthen the comb attachment to the bar.

      I've 75% made up my mind to split. This is a 2nd year colony now, and a brood break would be good for knocking down mites. Just trying to decide when to do it.

      Fingers crossed for some sunshine for you!


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