Bee Mama Missive, May 2014

It’s been about seven weeks since we hived our honeybees and I’ve received requests for another update with their progress.  You can read about the hiving of our honeybees here and our first hive check here.   I’m glad to report that our honeybees are great!

Eating!

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Drinking!

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Eating more!

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Hanging out!

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Bearding!

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Visiting one bloom,

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flying to another.

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and sipping from that bloom!

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Gossiping with the neighbors!

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About three weeks ago, we added a second box to both hives because our industrious bees completely filled the bottom box with drawn comb.

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In that comb we spotted capped brood, recently hatched brood (next generation!), drone cells and capped and uncapped honey.  We also saw eggs and larva.  All looked healthy and prosperous (from a bee prospective), so we decided it was time to give the girls a bit more space. We haven’t opened the hive since, but all appears well.  I stopped feeding the bees sugar-water as there is plenty blooming for them, plus they’re good commuters.  (They don’t have to deal with Austin’s traffic.)  I placed wood at the entrance for the first week or so after I removed the Boardman feeders, so that the ladies wouldn’t need to suddenly defend a significantly larger entry space.

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You can spot the foragers bringing in pollen.  The pollen sacks on the hind legs are called pollen baskets or corbiculas.  I prefer to call them pollen pantaloons; I think that name has a certain charm.

I eased the wood away over the next ten days, so now they can defend with impunity.  I hope that’s happening.  All seems well and the hive is active and flourishing.

Now,  what to do with the extra sugar-water????

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Anyone?

Thanks to Deb at austin agrodolce for the Bee Mama moniker.

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14 thoughts on “Bee Mama Missive, May 2014

  1. Glad your bees are doing so well. It seems you had a smoother start than I did. That’s a lot of sugar water aka simple syrup, maybe you should have a happy hour 😉

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    • Did your hiving not go well? It is tricky and no matter how much one reads about the process, there’s simply nothing like actually doing it. I don’t think the sugar-water would be all that great for a happy hour–cloyingly sweet and massively sticky! Pour into the compost??

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  2. Bee Mama! Nice shots! Your babies are growing so fast. You and Bee Daddy should be rightfully pleased with your success to date. In the face of dire news of pesticides implicated in colony collapse disasters word and images of your happy bee hives provides welcome relief. The more I think about it the more I realize, what you have in those boxes are most definitely VIB (Very Important Bees).

    How about putting that sugar water out for hummingbirds? Or hmmm, do hummingbirds and honeybees not play nicely when there are hives close by? If you don’t have hummingbird feeders maybe a neighbor does? Lemonade for the entire neighborhood? I’m out!

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    • Well, duh. I didn’t even think about using it as hummingbird feed. The solution is different for hummers than for bees and it’s been a long time since I’ve had a hummingbird feeder, but I’ll check that out. I’m so happy that the bees are happy. Or, if not happy, at least industrious and healthy. It’s still fun to say ‘hi’ to them every morning and to watch them in my gardens and around the neighborhood.

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    • Hi Jenny! We probably won’t get honey until summer 2015. We’ll leave what the bees make for their winter store for this coming winter. I’m not really in it for the honey, though it’d be fun to have some.

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  3. How thrilling! Congratulations. Pollen pantaloons is a charming and apropos description. =)
    Your experience is inspiring. I have often thought about getting pet bees but thought it might be like starting an aquarium (difficult).

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    • Hi Debra! There is a bit of work in starting the bee hive, but once they’re up and running (or flying), they take care of themselves. There will be things in the future we’ll have to deal with (what if another queen is chosen, how do we split the hive/; if our queen dies and a queen isn’t chosen, purchasing another queen; extracting honey–though we’re not particularly interested in that). We have books and there are quite a few groups here in Austin for bee keeping support. One step at a time!

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      • If I can say so I am really impressed that you aren’t necessarily gathering the honey. I like bees just because they are bees. It is so nice to see someone just letting them be themselves.

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      • It sounds weird, but I don’t actually care all that much for honey. I do cook and use it occasionally, but not that much. I’m with you: I want the bees because we need more pollinators; I like bees because I like bees. We just checked our hives: one has reasonable comb development in the second box, the other lags a little behind. We saw brood in both upper boxes, so yeah, I’m feeling really good about our girls and their hard work. Go bees!

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  4. I would love to tend bees, but here I would have to put up electric fence to protect them from the bears. There are a few bee keepers in close proximity, but when I drive by, I never see a human to talk to. Maybe I’ll add bees to my five year plan.

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    • Goodness. Bears. That’s so cool. All we have to worry about are racoons (which isn’t really much of a concern) and those who might use pesticides. Though that’s probably a bigger danger in the long run. The bees are interesting–we’ve learned a lot. My husband is in the process of building another hive, a Langstroth this time. The Warre hives are pretty and they’ve been a good learning tool, but are hard and a bit impractical to use, in certain ways. Good luck with your plans.

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