And not exactly like the ones you might imagine I would write about.
Early last week I was somewhat frantically looking for two queens. Since there were no brood in the combs and no active queen cells in the two nuc hives that I had bought, I had to guess that the two new hives had lost their queens and didn’t have eggs at the right state where they could be raised into new queens. I called several places and left emails.
I had spoken with my bee keeper friend to see if he had any ideas. He actually found someone in the local Wake County bee club who had queens. I spoke with him about mid week and he thought he could have two queens for me on Friday or Saturday. I also got a lot of good advice about how hives can raise their own queens (again assuming eggs in the right state). He also suggested an idea which I had considered which was to take a frame from an existing hive with eggs and put it into the hives. The colony could then raise a queen that way. Given that I didn’t have a lot of time, arriving back home late Thursday and then leaving again on Sunday, I opted for two queens.
However the whole experience left me wondering about how to propagate my on own queens and hives in the future… A topic for more reading and a future posting.
I picked up Dad Saturday morning and we went to get the queens. The bee keeper raises nucs for sale and he had two packaged and marked queens for us.
It was after lunch by the time we got back to the farm. I suited up and got the smoker going. I opened the hives and checked a few frames. No change in status. Some pollen and honey stored, but no brood or eggs. This queen case is a thinner profile and I didn’t have to remove a frame to put it into the hive. I just wedged it between a couple of the center frames. I think that when you pull a frame and wedge the larger queen cage in, the bee will produce a lot of comb to fill the space gap. I have had to clean that out in the past, so I think this will result in less wasted energy on the part of the bees. I was out of sugar so I didn’t try to feed the bees this time. Pretty short order, I had the hives closed back up.
I decided since I had a few hours I would try to bush hog one of the front fields. I started up the tractor and made several rounds. At one corner of the field, I suddenly felt a “pop” one forearm and then the other forearm, of course I had on a short sleeve shirt. I pretty quickly concluded that I had a yellow jacket bite on both arms. The stings were a bit painful, but I decided it made no sense to stop mowing.
I have found honey bees to be gentle. Wasps and bumble bees won’t bother you unless you really threaten them. But yellow jackets nest in the ground and they just bite and ask questions later. Not very nice members of the bee family, in my opinion.
I had to stop the tractor after a few more passes around the field. The grass seed accumulates in the filter in front of the radiator and causes the engine to heat up. I cleaned out the debris and started to go again. I don’t know whether it was the yellow jacket stings or something in the field, but immediately after starting again, I started itching all over. I could not quite figure out what was up. Made a few more passes and then noticed splotches on my arms, hives.
I decided it was time to quit for the day. I put up the tractor and headed home. The air conditioner in the car and a cool shower helped when I got home. I took some antihistamine. By dinner time the hives were gone, but the forearms were doing the typically swelling thing. The next morning, the hives were long gone but I looked like Popeye and the forearms really itched. Oh well.
Took a few notes to self:
-Wear jeans and a work shirt, even in the middle of summer. It will protect against stings and sunburn.
-Yes, better talk to Dr about getting an epi-pen.
Went to Camp Raven Knob for the week on Sunday, taking the younger two kids who had finished school. I get a volunteer week off each year and the last several years I have help at the Scout camp where I had worked as a teenager/young adult.
I had ordered some deep hive bodies from Miller Bee Supply. I hadn’t received them yet and I knew I needed more foundation. I also decided I wanted to get two swarm traps. I called them up and ordered the additional items and since they aren’t too far from the Scout camp, I told them I would pick them the order.
The kids and I drove to North Wilkesboro on Tuesday afternoon. We picked everything up. I had asked my good friend, the Scout Executive of the camp, (btw, we were boyhood friends in Scouts) about a scenic drive back. He recommended Haystack Rd. We stopped at Stone Mountain Park and hiked a bit and then found Haystack Rd.
It is a beautiful, winding drive. Some of it was even dirt road. My friend told me that they had found maps from the 1700s and Haystack Rd existed even then as the main road between Mt Airy and North Wilkesboro. It was a pretty drive.
This weekend I will check the progress of the hives. Hopefully the queens will be out and in command of the hives. I also am going to put in the separator that causes the bees to exit the honey shallows and not return. I hope to pull the shallows off and have a honey harvest soon. Can hardly wait to taste this year’s honey!