Sunday, May 20, 2018

Recovery

We had another bear attack a few weeks ago, this one on the two hives in our own yard.  Eric did his best to slap the hives back together, and then I picked up queen cells form a local master beekeeper, to help the hives recover with strong, new queens.

This afternoon, after face painting and balloon twisting in Ramsey, Eric and I finally had a non-rainy, fairly sunny-ish day to check on the bees!  Miracle of miracles!

So we took advantage of the opportunity and checked to see what was doing.

In the first photo, you can see a big empty space in the hive, which the bees are filling in with honeycomb.  Bees don't like spaces, and fill it - the larger ones with comb, the smaller ones with propolis.  This space was caused by the mess Eric faced when he put the hives back together post-attack, and he wasn't able to get all ten frames in there.  We're really going to have to figure out what to do about that, but right now, we're happy to let them have it so we don't kill the pupae in there and diminish their impending population.  In that photo, you can also see the very top of the queen cell that Eric installed, that green plastic cap is what it's attached to.  In the second photo is the bottom view of the same queen cell, with a nice round hole.  The queen hatched out, and hopefully is prepping for mating or is working on mating. 



We question what's going on a bit, because although we saw brood, we also saw a LOT of queen cells on that hive, built by the colony's workers themselves.  They're sealed and not hatched yet.  You can see them in the third photo - the ones hanging down looking like peanuts.  The bees build them out and down like that because queen bees need to grow bigger than workers, and will need that space.


In photo 4, you can see capped over honeycomb cells, which contain worker pupae.  We can tell by the way the caps look.  They're tan, rather than white (which would contain honey), and flat, rather than bumps (which would contain drones).  In the open cells, you can also see larvae, white worm-like bee babies.  The ones that pretty much fill their cells are obviously older than the ones that have smaller larvae set farther in.


Happily, in one of the photos, I also got a really nice shot of a drone, photo 5.  Those are the male bees, identifiable by their rounder, fatter abdomens (not really visible in the photo), and also their HUGE eyes, which are visible.  Aren't they crazy?


The sixth and seventh photos are just great shots of larvae and capped worker brood, in which pupae are busy growing, respectively.



And the eighth and ninth photos are photos of foragers coming on back home.  You can see the bright yellow pollen packed onto their back legs, and if you look closely, you can see one with red pollen.  I'd love to know what flora that's from!



Somewhere in the middle of it all, I was being a bit of a brute, and took two stings to my upper, inner thigh through my jeans.  I'm glad to have the first ones over with, and with some apple cider vinegar topically and a dose of prednisone, I'm absolutely fine.

The end result?  Both hives look good, and we added honey supers, hoping that they give us a crop this year.  The resource hive that Eric used to make a small colony looks amazing, so we put on a second level.  And since we had so many more frames with queen cells (more than the one in the photo here), we took a few to try more colonies in two more resource hives.  Theoretically, we could have five hives by the end of the season.  That would be nice after all the losses!

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