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Beekeeping, Brood, Bumblebees, Honey Bees, Queen Bees, Virgil, Wasps

Georgics Book IV, or since when are we running a spa?

BkIV:8-29 Location and Maintenance of the

at liquidi fontes et stagna virentia musco
adsint, et tenuis fugiens per gramina rivus,
palmaque vestibulum aut ingens oleaster inumbret,
ut, cum prima novi ducent examina reges
vere suo, ludetque favis emissa iuventas,
vicina invitet decedere ripa calori,
obviaque hospitiis teneat frondentibus arbos.
in medium, seu stabit iners, seu profluet umar,
transversas salices et grandia conice saxa,
pontibus ut crebis possint consistere, et alas
pandere ad aestivum solem; si forte morantes
sparserit, aut praeceps Neptuno immerserit Eurus.

P. Vergili Maronis, Georgicon Liber IV, T.E. Page editor, MacMillan 1909

But let there be clear  springs nearby, and pools green with moss,
and a little stream sliding through the grass,
and let a palm tree or a large wild-olive shade the entrance,
so that when the new leaders command the early swarms
in their springtime, and the young enjoy freedom from the combs,
a neighbouring bank may tempt them to leave the heat,
and a tree in the way hold them in its sheltering leaves.
Whether the water flows or remains still, throw willows
across the centre, and large stones, so that it’s full
of bridges where they can rest, and spread their wings
to the summer sun, if by chance a swift Easterly
has wet the lingerers or dipped them in the stream.


During the extended periods of warm weather beginning in April, I have been feeling a bit like swimming pool attendant/life guard at the local leisure center.  Each morning, I go around the yard ensuring that all the facilities are ready for the those members of the public flying in from parts known and unknown.  Yes, our clientele for the most part consists of birds and bees. (!)  We did have to review our safety policy at the beginning of the season.  Back in April, we had a few dead bodies in the shallow bird bath (see picture below).  No, not birds, but bees.  We have since read Virgil’s instructions above and implemented the appropriate safety measures.

However, it did seem that the bees learned from the casualty count, and instead started hanging around the garden hose (can you pick out the one on the spray gun above?).  In fact, when we came out of a morning, they were hovering about the garden hose, spray gun, and sprinkler, waiting for us to open for business.

But that was back in the spring.  With the return of warm weather in June and July, the bees have found a new, more dependable spa area–our rock pool.  It really does start to look like happy hour at the bar/pool at a Caribbean resort.  (hope you can see them in my bad cellphone picture below).  And, the customers are not always happy to wait for their turn at the bar, as I have witnessed a few slap fights as they jostle for prime position.  There are a few intrepid wasps who keep a discreet distance from the bees.  One member of the flying society not spotted though is the bumblebee.  There are loads of every kind in my garden; I just never see them at the watering holes.

Happy Hour!

Bee Report

26 June 2011

Nuc bees (now New Hive)

Happily re-homed into the new hive.  I know I have promised photos, and they are coming
2-3 frames with brood, not inspiring, but for a colony which has just made a major move, I will reserve judgement.
We have given them a sugar feed, because of the June gap, but we have been heartened by the regular deliveries of pollen.
We have now returned the nuc with replace ment frames to the Association apiary.  We have also let it be known that a nuc of our own is at the top of our Christmas wish list.

Main Hive
3 frames with various stages of brood, as with the above we are cautiously optimistic that the low brood/larvae count may be down to June gap, swarming, and in this case a new queen just gearing up.
5 queen cups spread over 3 frames, this however, has caused us much concern. Although they are all empty, we wouldn’t put it past the madams to be planning another breakout.  It is true, though, that they do make cups sometimes just because they can, and probably because they know it pisses us off (OK, this last is unlikely)
Few, if any, drone cells which is about right for the season.
A lot of multicolored pollen, again as with the new hive, they have been delivering a fair amount of pollen, so maybe they are planning to stay a while?
Think we saw queen on 3rd frame in, but I could have been imagining it, as if the bees I think are queens really are, than there are at least ten of them in there!  Geez, it could get like a Roman coliseum gladiator event in there if that’s the case.
Another thing that may be our imagination is that it appears to us as if there are more bees.  Could be wishful thinking though.

10 July

Main hive

Firstly, the queen cups remain unfilled!   Granted, they are still there, but the fact that they are filled coupled with the next item signifies that the queen may be in it for the long haul.

6 frames of brood/larvae, some fuller than others.  That’s not to say they are all completely filled.  But some good, strong frames mixed in with a few sparse looking frames.  It could be that there’s been a lot of hatching going on, because even stronger than last time was the impression that there are lot more bees in this hive.  We will have to look at swapping out some of the grottier, older frames (ones we got with the original nuc associated with this hive).

Anywhere from 5-10 drone cells spread across the frames, so about par for the course, I think.

In the super, there are aout 4-5  frames with in the process of honey production.  I forgot to say that last time, we swapped exterior frames for middle frames to spread the production out from the middle. It’s still a bit early to tell whether this will work.  But all the signs point to us getting at least a jarful of honey  at the end of the season.

The girls were in a good mood, and so were we!

New hive:

5 frames of nice looking brood/larvae, 4 of stores.  I have to say that, for an old lady, this queen is still pumping it out.  Maybe she’s inspired by the new digs?  Everyone else seems in a good frame of mind ad there is a lot of pollen gathering, judging from the deliveries made and the frames of beautiful multi-colored pollen.
Gave them another sugar feeding last week to encourage them in building stores, but the exterior frames are still empty

And, of course, both hives can claim regulars at happy hour!

Those keeping up with the Queen Bees might be interested in this from the Atlantic:



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