The Healthy Honeybee

Learning about Beekeeping

update

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I heard from the person who had the bees in the wall of the house – they had to call an exterminator because there was really no easy way to get the bees out. Which I am not holding against them. You gotta do what you gotta do. It really doesn’t make sense to tear up your house over this. This person is also allergic to bee stings, which makes it all the more important that the bees are gone quickly.

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bees in a house in kitchener

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Last night was interesting…. someone had contacted the beekeepers association about a swarm of bees nesting in the siding of a house, so I went with a fellow beekeeper to check it out. The pic above is the hive entrance, but we couldn’t actually figure out where in the wall they were. So, they’re still in the wall of the house. Until we figure out how to get them out.
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backlit

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Today I’ll be taking my observation hive to my daughter’s class! Should be fun. I took a sweet photo last night while checking them out (above). It was late and dark, and the hive was backlit by my back door light.

Why late and dark? Because everybody’s home then. I need to lock them all in for safely transporting and showing the kiddies in the class. If I had waited until this afternoon, a lot of the bees would be out foraging (provided it’s not pouring down rain like it is right now) and they would be very confused upon returning home to where their house once was.

Grade 2 here we come….
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rub a grub

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Here’s the main reason my bees have been so angry with me and humankind lately: all of the extra comb and brood in the picture above needed to be scraped off, so I could actually inspect the hive. The white grub-looking things are larvae: stage 2 in the life cycle of a bee. Before that, they were eggs laid by the queen. After that, they were going to be pupae, locked in their cells by a wax covering over the entrance. The pupa stage is kind of like the cocoon of a moth or chrysalis of a butterfly; when pupae eat their way out of the cell, they are adults.

Angie reports that the bees were still dive-bombing people 2 days later. It’s a bit disconcerting; I feel like my children are misbehaving, badly, and I can’t do anything about it. Sigh. Fortunately my human children are much better behaved.
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bees in a glass box

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Here’s what the ob hive looks like so far! It was quite the production getting it populated – I have never been in such an angry cloud of bees. One crawled into my brand new glove and stung my hand!!! I thought I was Fort Knox with all my gear but it turns out I had a weak point.

Many thanks to Andrew, who is an intern at Fertile Ground CSA, who braved the angry buzz to help me out with the glass and wood and screws.
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bad behaviour

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I’m sorry to report that my bees have not been behaving themselves lately. The girls decided that Janine Grespan and her cameraman Kevin were a little too close to the hive – at more than 50 feet away! Angie was about to be interviewed for a special feature on organic farms when the bees came charging on the scene, sabotaging the shoot. They had to relocate so they could finish the interview.

I thought they were still mad at me for disrupting their hive yesterday, taking some brood and honey for my observation hive. After talking with Ken, though, it seems there might have been a skunk around. I’ll have to investigate further.
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up close and stingless

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I’m hoping to get out and see my bees tomorrow – and also hoping I’ll have a full hive that won’t mind me taking 2 frames for my observation hive. I cleaned it out a bit tonight, and also figured out how it comes apart and goes back together. I thought it might be good to be prepared *before* I’m in a cloud of pissed bees. I even wrote myself a list of things not to forget – like extra veils for helpers! Here’s hoping for a great afternoon.

Look for the observation hive if you’re coming to the Seedling Sale at Little City Farm! Saturday, May 22, 9-12. It just might be there. Sealed, of course.
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s is for sarah

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I took a little trip to Better Bee Supplies today, to pick up some frames for my honey supers and some gloves. Gloves were not something I really wanted to work with; it’s great to have the sensation in your fingertips and be able to ‘pet the bees’ with your bare hands. However, my allergist tells me I have a Colophony allergy, which is basically an allergy to coniferous trees and products made from them.

This is an issue because the propolis – the super sticky gummy glue that the bees make and use to seal and weatherproof their hive – is made using things like pine or spruce sap. Too much touching that stuff, and I’ll end up with a major rash like I did last summer.

So – on go the gloves. Monogrammed, even – see the ‘S’??
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oh boys

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My only real issue with this video is the stingers on the boy bees. You can’t have a stinger package and a *cough* male package. There’s not enough room. The girls get the stingers, the boys get the ability to genetically alter the next generation. Fair is fair I guess. In both scenarios, the bee dies after using it once. Quite the sacrifice.

Thanks Ken for sending me the link.
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cleaning house

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Here’s another reason why I thought the blue hive was dead: no dead bees on the outside. Bees are such tidy insects – they’ll haul out their dead so the hive is kept clean. No dead bees on the outside made me think they were all dead on the inside! Not the case, though, as I mentioned in a previous post. They’re all happily working away at building their colonies, and in a month or two they should be up to about 50,000 bees or more in each hive.
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