Another queen is seen, plus a drone that attempted to mate

After seeing the damaged queen, we were waiting for the hive to get another new queen.  And it did!  Here she is:

We also came across a very interesting dead drone bee that had attempted to mate.  Drones are the male bees and their main purpose in life is to mate with the queen.

A drone dies immediately after mating, that is because their sex organs errupt from their body.  This particular drone in the pictures above looks a bit immature.  The sex organs do not look fully developed.  I found this out by looking at this PDF from the entomology department at UC Davis.  http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/courses/beeclasses/drone.pdf

In other good news, we have plenty of honey! Looks like next weekend we might be able to extract some. Check back because I will have lots of pictures to post about the extraction process.

Emerging, damaged queen

We were finally able to inspect our hives after all the rain.  Our first priority was to check on the hive we combined and were trying to requeen.  Status = failure.   Our requeening efforts were not successful.  Upon opening the hive we discovered some new capped brood, but no new eggs and no sight of the queen.  Then we saw this…

An emerging queen!!  Something we have never seen before. Very exciting!!

Then we realized she was damaged. Not good! She was missing her right wing and did not look good in general.

But we have hope, we found about 10 more queen cells in this same hive from the new brood that was laid, so we are pretty sure we will have another new queen within a week.

Lots of queen cells

As we continued checking our swarm nucs, we saw some good progress going on.  The burr comb we attached to a frame with rubber bands was fully built and already had honey.

And finally, we saw the new queen of this nuc, very large and impressive.

Honey scrub

I came across this honey scrub in one of my beekeeping magazines and thought what a great holiday gift idea this would be.

Honey Scrub

2/3 cup honey
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp almond oil
1/2 tsp rosemary essential oil
1/2 tsp lavender essential oil
2 tbsp dried lavender
1 tbsp dried rosemary

Mix almond oil, sugar and honey together.  Add essential oils and mix well, then add in the dried herbs and mix.

If you don’t like lavender or rosemary, don’t worry, you can substitute with which ever oils and herbs you like the best.  The idea is to use scents that are relaxing and soothing.

Spoon mixture into an airtight glass jar and decorate with ribbons.

Requeening a bad behavior hive

The hive that did not swarm was not behaving well lately.  The bees seemed a little bit more aggressive than our other hives, plus we noticed the queen was not performing well.  So what do you do in this type of situation? Requeen!

This particular hive had 2 deep chambers. We put a queen excluder between the two for a about a week so we could easily determine which chamber the queen was in, by looking for eggs.

Right away when opening the hive we noticed something – the top chamber that did not have the queen was very calm and gentle.  The bottom chamber where the queen was, the bees were still aggressive.  We found the queen and quickly ended her life – no pain or suffering.

Once that part was over with, we left the hive queenless for a few days. We went back after a few days to check for any queen cells.  We found a couple and destroyed them.

Our next step was to combine one of the newly swarmed nucs that had a new laying queen with the bad behavior hive.  We put a piece of newspaper, with some holes poked in it, in between the new hive and the old hive.  The newspaper allows the bees to smell each other, but not attack one another.  The holes in the newspaper help them to start chewing through and eventually the two hives are combined.

We are allowing them one week to get combined and reorganized within the hive and then we will check on them again.  Stayed tuned to see how it works out.

Checking up on our nucs

So today we did an inspection of our hives despite the terrible windy and rainy conditions.  The two nucs that swarmed about a week ago are doing great!  They both have laying queens, we saw lots of new eggs.  One of the nucs made a very nice burr comb attached to the lid that we had to cut off.  We noticed it was full of eggs, so we attached it to a frame with rubber bands and put it back in the hive so the bees could tend it.

The third nuc that swarmed on Monday is OK.  We did not see any eggs, but since it has been less than a week since we caught them the new queen might not be mated yet.  We’ll wait a few more days and recheck.

We believe we are going to combine two of these nucs to make a bigger hive, and that way they will have a better chance of making it through the winter.

Again? Really!? Yup, they swarmed again!

We almost can’t believe it, but yes, the same hive that just had two swarms had a third one!  So now we have 3 nucs sitting in our yard.

We actually saw when all the action was taking place.  All the bees came out of the existing hive and were flying around our yard, then we saw a large group moving away and towards a palm tree on the other end of the yard.  Sure enough that is where they made their cluster and we were able to easily catch them.

Stung for the first time

Believe it or not, in all my 31 years of life I have never been stung by a bee…until today.  The day finally came, and I knew it would being that we are beekeepers.  I walked out into my backyard and I was in the wrong spot at the wrong time.  I was in the flight path of a bee, she bumped right into my forehead, I flinched and before I knew it she stung me right above the eyebrow. Ouch!  I don’t think I will ever forget that initial sharp stinging and burning sensation.  At least now I know I am not allergic.