Thursday, April 21, 2011

Confucius Say...

Confucius say... Bee keeper with sticky fingers have sticky camera. 

Today was a good day to check out the girls again. I had plenty of daylight to go in both hives, so I was prepared to spend some time. I have one thing to say about bee keeping:
It's hot. 

So I found her. The queen. And she is a beauty. 
Can you spot her? She is the darker, long one. She is bigger than the rest.
This is the hive on the right, the one I went in last time and took out the two queen cells. So, (sigh of relief) we have a queen. And she seems to be working. I didn't spend too much time in this hive because I looked at it pretty good the other night. I found her, checked for larva, and left them alone. 

The hive on the left seemed like it was more full than the one on the right. I found numerous queen cells in this one. 
The queen cell is the light yellow, peanut looking thing.

I also found lots of larva. 
See those little worm guys down in the cells? They will soon be capped. 

I don't quite know if I saw eggs or not. It was very hard to tell if what was in the cells just food (royal jelly, I guess) waiting for eggs, or if they were the early stage of larva. There was SOMETHING in there, but I am just not sure what.  So I felt confident that there was a queen, so I got rid of all the queen cells. There were probably six or seven.

I had also a hard time telling which one was the queen. I thought I found her, but she looked so different than my other queen I thought maybe I was just seeing drones. Drones are boy bees. They are bigger than the worker bees, because they sit around, doing nothing, waiting to "git wit" a queen (not necessarily their own queen. That can cause inbreeding, which is no good for any species). That is a one time thing, by the way. If a drone is successful in mating with a queen, he soon dies. Apparently after mating, his "beenis"is ripped from his little body. 

So I don't know if I saw the queen or not. What do you think? Is this the queen or a drone?

See the big one in the middle?
Maybe this one?

It is really hard to find the queen sometimes. I noticed quite a few drones and drone cells in this hive. That may be because there are more bees in there...I don't know. But the brood pattern looked good and they are starting to make a little honey. Take a look at the difference. 
Honey on the bottom and brood on the top. The colors are different. 

I also saw something pretty cool- a bee chain! These bees were making a chain across the gap where I had taken out one of the frames. 

They were all strung together all the way across. I wonder why they do that? 

It has finally dawned on me. I am a beekeeper. Keeper of the bees. Tamer of creatures most feared. :) I'm just being a little silly there, but I am very excited to do this on my own. I have the privilege to watch these creatures who have survived and adapted since the time of creation. Honey has been found in tombs in ancient Egypt. The Jews were led into the land of milk and honey. I just feel like when I look into the bees, I am watching how they have done their job for possibly millions of years. It is an amazing pleasure and blessing. Realizing that is how I know I am a beekeeper. Realizing that you can never really "keep" bees is when you become a beekeeper. I am just enjoying my time with them. Civilizations will change and develop, people will become "advanced" and no longer do the things that I understand today. But thousands of years from now, the bees that are still around will be doing business the same way they always have. I find comfort in that. 

1 comment:

  1. Good blog post! I think I can answer some of your questions:

    1) Is that the queen? I don't think so. You can tell a drone by the eyes that wrap around completely across the top of the head (the queen has distinct eyes). Also, a drone's wings go all the way to the end of his butt - the queen's wings don't reach the end of her body by a good amount.

    2) Why do the bees "chain"?
    It's called festooning. The thinking is that bees do this to form a natural curve (their bodies act like links of a chain). This curve gives the bees a pattern for the curve for building natural comb (if you've ever seen foundationless frames, they build the comb in a curved shape). It also is where the young bees who produce the wax hang out, waiting for others to grab the wax and use it.

    Keep up the good work!

    That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it! :-)

    P.S. I agree, there is a special feeling when you realize you are a beekeeper...

    -- Steven