Drone Layer

Last Saturday I attended a meeting at our local honeybee keepers association, the Highlands Beekeepers Association.  It was perhaps the biggest attendance they’ve ever had, I counted over 40 people.  Local extension agent Phil Blevins gave a good presentation on spring hive management.  The presentation touched on pollen and syrup feeding, and swarm prevention.  Feeling invigorated from all this honeybee talk I decided to come home and feed my hives.  Any that were close to running out of food have been feed since mid-February, but I was ready to start stimulative feeding to kick start brood production!  Most of the hives looked good.  I’m still amazed at 3 of my small nuc hives that made it through the winter.  They only had 4 frames of bees going into the winter, and honestly probably never had more than 2 frames worth of bees.  But that’s a story for another post….

Ironically the strongest hive from last year was the hive I identified Saturday as having the biggest problem.  A drone laying queen!  I had expected to see brood on 4-8 frames based on my other hives.  What I saw was spotty brood on 3 or 4 frames, and it was all drone brood.  The bullet shaped brood was sprinkled all around the brood nest, with no worker brood.  Not to mention the abundance of emerged drones walking around on the comb.  I know the weather has been mild, but this is still far too early for drone brood to be appearing let alone walking on the comb.  If you back up from Saturday to the date drone eggs (unfertilized eggs really) would have been laid you get something in mid-February.  Clearly way to early for drone production.  I actually had one of my hives do this last year as well, so I knew exactly what I was looking at when I saw all the drones, and bullet shaped brood.

Drone in green circle, note the larger eyes than most bees on the frame.

 

So I plucked the queen off the frame, and replaced here with a queen from one of the three small nucs that had survived over the winter.  Another reason it pays to keep nucs around!  I placed her in an introduction cage and added a top feeder with plenty of sugar syrup.  I checked on her quickly today and you can see from the picture below the worker bees have certainly found her.  They didn’t seem aggressive, but I figured I wait another 2-3 days to release her to be on the safe side.  Queens are pretty tough to come by this time of year!  This introduction frame is probably a little overkill, but this is cheap insurance that colony accepts her.  You can wait up to 2 weeks if necessary before releasing her.

You can see the clump of bees in the green circle huddled up around the new queen. At this point the frame and new queen has been in the hive for 5 days.

I’m not entirely sure how good a queen she is, but I know at least she is laying fertilized eggs.  If she doesn’t have good brood production by early April she will be replaced.

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Red Maple in Bloom

Got a pretty good picture of a honeybee working the red maple that's just off my back deck. At any one time there was probably 100+ bees working the tree.

 

Got this picture on my back deck this afternoon after work.  It’s nice to see natural sources of nectar and pollen coming online!

 

 

Getting Ready For Swarm Season

Put together a swarm trap today, or finished putting it together I should say.  It’s constructed from a Sono tub I picked up at Home Depot for $11.00.  I actually cut the tube in half so I’ll be able to make one more from the tube.  As you’ll see in the pic I rigged up the ends to hold frames so should a swarm find my trap they would be easier to deal with and move into another hive.  Cornell university put out an interesting study a decade or two ago regarding capturing swarms.  Worth reading if you’re interested in giving it a try.  Get the online PDF here.

All that’s left is to slap a coat or two of paint on this and get it baited up.

5 Mar

More new honey bee equipment

Posted by gmeadevt in Honeybee Equipment. Tagged: .

Here are some photos of recently made honeybee equipment.  Getting geared up for April!

I’ve found that some items (covers, bottom boards, mating nucs, etc) I can make much cheaper than you can buy them.  Other items such as hive bodies, honey supers, and frames I can’t even come close to competing on cost.

Most commercial beekeepers use migratory covers and no inner cover. I'm making about 20 of these for new hives and mating nucs. They are made out of 3/4 inch exterior grade plywood ($30) and you can make 9-10 from one sheet of plywood.

 

 

5 Mar

Building New Honeybee Equipment

Posted by gmeadevt in Honeybee Equipment.

 

29 Feb

Maple Bloom Finally Here!

Posted by gmeadevt in Uncategorized. Tagged: , .

Today was 65 and sunny, certainly unseasonably warm for February, but I’ll take it!  And so will the honeybees!  I’ve been watching a big red maple in my yard for the past few days and the buds have finally started to open and I actually saw a few bees working the new blooms today.  This is a much anticipated (by me at least) and welcome source of nectar and pollen for the bees.  Maple trees are the first major nectar source of the season and will be the basis for the first cycle of new bees being created right now.

A couple of days ago I couldn’t resist and took a quick inside several of my hives.  After a recount I realized I actually have 12 hives.  However 3 of them are on life support and could pretty easily become casualties yet.  At any rate the other hives I inspected are doing well with several frames of brood in each hive.  I slapped some homemade pollen patties on several of them, fed a couple, and started making plans for some serious feeding in the next week or two.  The next time I make some pollen patties I’ll snap a couple of pics and post the recipe as well.

25 Feb

Welcome to my new Honeybee Blog!

Posted by gmeadevt in Uncategorized.

I’ve thought for awhile now that I’d like to share my honeybee adventures with the rest of the world, or at least anyone who happened across this!  I’m still a relatively new beekeeper, however I’ve spent more time than I’d care to admit studying, reading, and generally just messing around with my bees.

First a bit about me.  My name is Greg Meade, married to Gayle Meade, and we have two kids Hannah Grace, and Wesley.  We live in the great little town of Abingdon in Southwest Virginia.  I’m a forester by training and have a great job at The Nature Conservancy.

I hope to post from time to time the various activities me and the honeybees are up to.  Currently I have 10 hives, and I’m hopeful they can make it till Spring since we’re so close.  I’ve lost two hives this winter and one is barely hanging on.

With the warmer than average winter I’ve been able to check on the bees several times and they’ve been doing very well overall.  In fact just this week I caught them on a warm day gathering pollen.  It’s pale yellow as you can see from the picture.  Not sure what plant this is coming from, but they seem pretty eager to start collecting.

Bees gathering pollen in late February

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