Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Silver Lining...

If there is anything good that has come from CCD, it is the way the media has portrayed the hobby of beekeeping. There is a repeat of a good piece about CCD on 60 Minutes tonight, and there was an article in The Examiner that really put hobby beekeeping in a good light.

As beekeepers use antibiotics or chemicals in the fight against mites or viruses, the overall ability to fight off infection declines, entomologists say. Commercial beekeepers, particularly, may turn to antibiotics because they can't risk losing bees.

But hobbyists can. And that means the bees they raise - and that survive - are stronger and will withstand whatever is decimating commercial bees. These bees, known as "survivor bees," could prove to be the saviors, some bee experts believe.

"We need the smaller beekeepers, and it's a fascinating hobby," said Ken Kloepper, president of the St. Clair Beekeepers Association in Illinois. "They can provide a great service to their communities. We need new young blood to keep this thing going."

Monday, February 18, 2008

First inspection of 2008!

Today, I was able to do my first hive inspection of the year. Let me say right off the bat, my bees are kicking butt and taking names. There were many more bees in the hive than I expected, they have plenty of honey (more likely sugar syrup) stored, and there are several hand-sized patches of brood on several frames. They are bringing in tons of pollen (which is used to make new bees!). The additional super of sugar syrup that I left on the hive remains hardly touched. In fact, I doubt I will need to use a queen excluder this year when I super up for honey, since that super of syrup will keep the queen from laying eggs above it. I was worried that I might need to start feeding soon, but the way things stand right now, I won’t need to worry about feeding for a while.

The most surprising sight in the hive was the presence of capped drone brood on my drone frame- although I did not see any hatched drones. Thinking like a bee for second, I am a little worried that they might decide to swarm. Although this is only a second year queen, they have a ton of food stored, so the queen might decide to establish a new colony (by swarming) since this one is doing so well. If that is the case, I will see some swarm cells in another month or so, in which case I’ll split the hive. That will really put a hurting on the honey crop I was hoping for this year, but I will have two hives instead of one. The beekeeper wants the bees to make honey, but the bees want to make new colonies of bees.

Here they are trucking in a whole lot of pollen:

Here are the capped drone cells:

J. Crew announces a line of beekeeping footwear...

And no, they are not mine.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The weather is beautiful

After a few weeks of bitterly cold temperatures, today the weather turned out very nice. My bees took full advantage of the nice weather to do some cleansing flights and other chores outside the hive. It was so nice to see a flurry of activity going on around the hive. It brought back pleasant memories of Spring!

One of the tasks the bees were performing was bringing out the dead. I like to inspect the dead bees to make sure there are no obvious signs of disease. It is difficult to see in this photo, but one of the dead bees had a varroa mite on the underside of its abdomen.