Bee Season is Up and Running in Full Force

| 5/20/2014 9:31:00 AM

Honey BeeHey, all! Sorry it’s been so long since I last blogged. It is, after all, bee season, and things are firing off to the left and to the right of me!  I’ll do my best to catch you up to where things stand at present.

The weather’s made a drastic change from the last time I wrote — it’s been hot and muggy: in the 80’s and 90’s with high humidity.  We’re getting a bit of a respite right now...a storm came through and dropped only about an inch of rain, but the humidity has dried up and we’re having beautiful 70-80-degree days! On the downside, the mosquitoes are out in force and it’s biting fly season! I find at this time of year I’m wearing my veil more often to fend off the darn flies than for working the bees! Actually, this time of year, the girls are at their sweetest (no pun intended). The nectar flow is strong — quite evident when you look in a hive and see all that beautiful new, sparkling white wax and smell the sweet nectar being dried and processed by the girls.  Such good fortune leads to good humor and as a result, it’s been a stingless spring so far.

Newbee Eric and Met at Hives

Bee School and Ensuing Adventures in Working Bees

Bee school is over for the time being, I’m thrilled that we have lots of brand new, young beekeepers (Trivia:  the average beekeeper is over 60 and is female!) They’ve taken the written portion of the Certified Test through the N.C. State Beekeepers Association Master Beekeeping Program, and have only to take and pass the practical test (where they work a hive and tell me the names of items and what they see and what it means) to become state-certified.

Most of my newbees visited my beeyard for the first spring inspection on March 22. As expected, both hives were exceedingly strong and ripe for splitting.  But since the purpose of the day was to show my newbees what goes on inside a hive and to let them see these things for the first time so they could identify them in their own hives when they get them, we didn’t “work” the bees; we just “inspected” them. On the downside, we did see a few small hive beetles (a surprise so early in the season), but the girls were keeping them at bay, out of the central hive and on top of the inner cover where they could do no harm. On the bright side, the brood pattern was good and the appearance of the cappings and larva were as they should be—no signs of varroa infestation. We did open some of the drone brood with the cappings scratcher to see if we could find any infested drone, but all pupa were a beautiful, pure white without a single varroa on them (varroa are very easy to find in this way, since they are dark brown or black and are quite obvious on the white pupa). Although we couldn’t find the queen in the crowd, we did find eggs, which tells us that there was a queen in there at least three days ago (a bee egg hatches into a larva after 3 days) and that everything was going along as it should. So we closed up shop for the day.

One Of The Hive BoxesOn April 8, my all-time-best student, Janet Keethler, and this year’s best newbee, Megan Paholsky, came to help me in my beeyard to make the splits and see if anything else needed doing. Janet’s affinity for honey bees is amazing and although she will not take credit, I insist that in her case the student has surpassed the teacher. Janet has a booming beeyard and still has time to help others, including me! Her eyes are much sharper than mine and she can easily find those bee eggs (about the size of a half grain of rice) down there in those honeycomb cells.

5/28/2014 1:42:41 PM

Susan, sorry for the delay in responding. . .some problem with getting my response to post. Anyway, the answer to your question is it's hard to tell. As long as there are flowers with a good nectar flow the bees will be there. But the good news is you needn't worry. If there's a nectar flow on, the girls don't care about stinging you. They're too busy collecting food for their colony. You can work right alongside them without incident. Honey bees sting generally only when they're squooshed, if they think you're threatening their hive, or if you flail your arms at them as they fly around. Just remember to keep calm, and not to wear black (they'll think you're a bear!). Don't smell bad (yesterday's gardening clothes) or too good either (Hairspray and heavy fragrances like Chanel No 5 are no-no's around bees). Their sense of smell is really strong, so what might seem to you to be a nice smell can be offensively strong to them. About the strongest scent the bees will find pleasing is baby powder! Hope this helps.

5/21/2014 6:26:14 AM

hi i have an allotment and the person on the next allotment has bees these are great for the allotment but my allotment is covered with thousands of bees today and the last few days which means i don't really want do do any work on my allotment, could you tell me how long roughly this will last as i have lots off work to do but feel very unsettle when there are so many off them thank you for your help

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