Posts Tagged ‘Early Season Beekeeping’

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.


Maple Bloom Finally Here!

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.