Bee check


I’ve a beekeeper for many years and yet I’ve always been a hands-off beekeeper. I guess you could say I’ve been a bee-haver. But lately I’ve taking a more active role: taking classes, learning from old-timers, going to beekeeping meetings. The other day I realized that I could spend my whole life studying this insect and would still never know everything about them. Somehow, I find that comforting. I still want to learn as much as I can.

With that in mind, my friend John came over and we opened up the hive. We took some honey supers off, and really got into the brood chamber area, a place that makes me sweat. The bees were not disturbed at all, these girls are the most gentle bees I’ve ever worked with. We didn’t see the queen, but evidence of her was everywhere: that brown capped stuff is brood comb. In the hollow spaces are little white larvae that the workers feed for 6 days. They then cap the larvae which transforms into a bee in 8-10 days. We saw a few young, soft looking bees–the young ones who remain in the hive all day long cleaning and feeding everyone. After a few weeks, they become field bees, out collecting nectar and pollen. We didn’t see any swarm cells–peanut-shaped protrusions that indicate the colony is planning on splitting into two. It was a successful spring inspection.

Lately many hives have been hit by varroa mites. I was curious about my mite counts, so I did the powder sugar test (sorry there are no photos, Bill wandered off). After our inspection, we closed up the hive and dumped two cups of powdered sugar over the top. The idea is the mites can’t hold onto the bees when they’re covered in powdered sugar. After waiting for the sugar to disperse through the hive for a few minutes, I pulled out a hastily devised “board” (aka a cookie sheet). In a class a beekeeper showed slides of the squirmy red mites floating around in the powdered sugar. I pawed through the sugar and couldn’t even find one from my colony. Hooray!!
Then we harvested honey. Yum.

2 responses to “Bee check

  1. What would Mookie do?

    zowie. what a life. we moved from oakland to austin. thinking about adding chickens to our life.

  2. Novella Carpenter

    mookie: i have a dear friend in austin! what brings you to the bay area? i have chicken advice if you need it.

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