A Bee-autiful Experience

I thought this little outhouse was the perfect picture for this post, because we had bee problems this week and the word was Sh*t!

Outdoor toilet

Gerald (my brother-in-law) and I have three hives between us.  Last Sunday, two were very strong (one of his and one of mine) and one (mine) was weak–we suspected the queen was dead since we could not find her in two searches and the hive continued declining. By late Sunday afternoon, half of Gerald’s strong hive had swarmed, and while I was trying to get my protective clothing on to help him get them off the apple tree they were hanging on, they flew off.  Gone.  Just so fast. I could not believe it because we take such good care of them. They’d rather live in a tree where no one brings them sugar water? Stupid bees!

So…two things became really apparent after this. We had to do something about my weak hive, and we had to do something about my strong hive that might be planning to swarm and as well as the bees remaining in Gerald’s hive (still a lot of healthy bees). The strong hives were very crowded and this may have influenced the fact that his hive swarmed, so the first thing we did was add supers to the two healthy hives to give them more room.    A super is one of these white boxes.

Bee Hives

I then emailed John Rhoten at Poor Valley Bees to discuss getting a new queen for my weak hive. Thankfully, he had some queens arriving this week. I got the new queen yesterday. Here’s John….

John Rhoten

And here’s the queen…she’s the large bee in the tiny little box. My queen!!

Box of Bees

I also talked with John about moving some of the healthy bees over to the weak hive that we believed to be “queenless”. He said to move five frame over. We swapped out five empty frames from the weak hive with five frames full of bees, honey and brood (eggs). This is called “splitting the hive.”

Here’s Gerald doing all the work..I was just out of reach of the picture.

Gerald and the Bees

The picture below is the healthy hive…about to lose five frames full of bees. When you pull the frames out, they are covered with bees. We had to check and make sure we weren’t moving the queen bee. That would be bad.

Healthy Bees

In this picture, all the frames are swapped and we’re preparing to leave the tiny box with the queen bee and her helpers on top of the frames. Over a three-day period, the hive will accept her as their queen, and they’ll also eat her out of the candy part of the little box. On Tuesday, we’ll open the top of the hive and see if this happened. Hopefully all of this occurred, she’ll be free from the box, and her presence will restore order to the hive.

Installing the Queen

I’ve got sugar water with Honey Bee Healthy in it on the hives.

Hive No 1

I’m not sure if feeding the bees is necessary because Mendota is in bloom. Here’s some pictures…Swinging Bridge Road…just in front of the house.

Swinging Bridge

Back to the little outhouse just down the road…have you ever used one of these? Tell me!! I have! My grandmother used to have one.

Outdoor toilet


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