Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Bee Saga Continues

The bees seemed to have stopped moving into the new hive and are balling up on the dome again. Jeff, the beekeeper, came by today and looked in on the new hive. The process began three weeks ago with the arrival of the new hive and queen and the closing off of the old hive. (See blogs for April 14 and 20.) In a few days, any new bees are likely begin hatching and may not be accepted by bees still attached to the old hive, so it's important for the bees from the original hive to transfer to the new colony now.
Jeff lighted his smoker, which calms the bees, and sent a few puffs with the bellows into the hive before opening it. Although a small colony has moved in and settled down to business, they've only begun building new combs on two or three racks. But that was amazing. He pulled a rack out and found a nice new hive underway. In the picture, the black material at the edges is a sheet of plastic lightly coated with beeswax to encourage the bees to build a new hive. Looks like it's working.
Near the top, the comb is thicker and filled out. You can see where they're spreading downward as the cells thin at the outer edges. Jeff could see larvae in some of the six-sided wax cells, a good sign.
But the large cluster of bees at the dome over the old hive seems to be growing, so he decided to close off the old hive for a day or two and see if he could force them to move. Hence the duct tape. The bees got very agitated and clung to the metal pans.
A fine mist of water helps settle them too, and they don't fly well when wet. So we provided a small hose and he sprayed them. Then taking a chance, he scooped the bees into a cake pan (you never know what will come in handy) and dumped them into the top of the new hive. He did this several times, figuring he added at least a thousand bees. This technique isn't supposed to work, but he couldn't wait much longer and have the old bees accept the new hatchlings (some of my terminology may be a little off).
So now we'll wait a few days and see if the bees that were so unceremoniously dumped accept their fate or go to war with those already settled. The new queen will be protected by a group of drones already loyal to her. We'll just have to be patient and see what happens. 


Polly said...

The ongoing bee saga is fascinating, Ellis. I've determined in my next life, I want to be a queen bee, protected by an army of drones. Is that the life, or what?

Ellis Vidler said...

I'm not too sure about that being a good life. All the queen does is eat and lay eggs. Well, I suppose she somehow mates with the drones--there is that.

Marian Allen said...

I continue to be fascinated by this saga. The life of a bee is a complicated and dangerous thing!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Ellis Vidler said...

Marian, they really are fascinating. I've been reading how they tell each other where to find pollen. Just amazing.

It will be kind of sad when they go. But I expect when the wall comes down I won't be too sorry.