May 2012 Bee Update

After the installation and first checks, we let the hives sit another week before opening it up again.


Here is what the hive looked like when we removed the top cover – a few bees milling about on the top, but not a lot of activity. It was still quite cold outside – bees don’t usually start flying/foraging outside the hive until it’s about 55 Fahrenheit.


Roman removing one of the frames where bees are busy building up new wax comb.


The bees have been incredibly busy!  It takes seven pounds of honey to make one pound of wax, so they have to collect a lot of nectar to construct a hive.


I just loved seeing these little bee butts sticking out of the cells! They enter the cells like that to clean them, feed eggs or larvae, and to eat stored honey.


We worked with varying amounts of equipment on – often just gloves and long shirts.  The bees were surprisingly gentle – when they crawled on us they weren’t trying to attack, just kind of hanging out.


This was one of those details we learned along the way. What you’re looking at is a ‘pollen patty’ – a pollen substitute wrapped in wax paper, given to the new bees so they had enough protein to raise young before any plants were blooming or natural pollen was available. We gave them way too big a piece, however, so there was a lot of it sitting in the hive that wasn’t being eaten by bees. As a result it became infested by what looked like carpet beetles – dermestids of some sort. At first we were really concerned, since there are types of hive beetles which can really hurt a colony – but these ended up being benign. When we removed the uneaten patty the beetles cleared out, and we never saw any damage done except for some tunneling into the wooden cover when they were feeding there.


Here are the offenders – small, quick black beetles. The bees totally ignored them.


One of the other denizens of the hive – I believe this is a bold or daring jumping spider (but is a jumping spider of some sort!) – there were a few of these living on each hive all summer long. We did see them eating bees on occasion but they seemed to catch other bugs around the colony and didn’t seem to be doing any harm so we left them alone. They were really spunky and would raise their forelegs or occasionally jump at us while we were working. Really cute spiders!

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