Tuesday, May 26, 2015

We interrupt regulary scheduled....

Stitching, sewing, painting, gardening and all things housely came to an abrupt halt several times on Sunday and Monday because,
the bees are back.
The previous hive failed over the winter. Michelle, the beekeeper, thinks that water must have penetrated into the hive and the bees froze. Her friend's hive came through with flying colours (black and yellow of course) and he was able to give enough bees to Michelle for two new nucleii hives.
I had been sad over the spring because the busy little beggars weren't diving all over the garden and I missed the glinting light off their bodies. Now, there are tons and tons.
Michelle introduced a new Queen into each nuclei hive and now we wait to see if the Queens are accepted or not. If they are, then terrific because the bees can get organized into finding pollen. If not, then the bees will kill the new Queen and start incubating eggs to produce a new Queen. That process takes about 5 weeks, then she has to do her reverse dive into the sky to become impregnated and hopefully make it back to the hive, when things will settle down into honey production again. It's like Coronation Street in there.
Below is a photo collection of the steps Michelle took to introduce the Queens. I hope you love it.
In bee protection clothing, Michelle gets all the parts ready. The two boxes in the foreground contain the incoming bees, the yellow box in the background is last year's starter box.
One of the new Queens in a transportation box. It is a blur because she has a couple of attendants to keep her groomed and calm. A beekeeper friend of Michelle's had several hives and two of them were producing new Queen cells, meaning that these Queens would be tossed out. Since Queens are hard to come by, Michelle is doing an experiment to see if the two young hives will accept these 'mature' Queens.
Not a great photo, but the right box gives you a better view of a Queen.
Michelle smoking the hives and flying bees with smoke from dried pine needles and wet grass. It is a very soothing moment in the process and it often mellows me out as well.
Michelle has shaken off all the bees (it was covered) and is making sure that each hive has an equal number of panels that look like this. These are brood cells. Unfertilized eggs laid by ?worker bees? I'm not sure, I'll have to confirm that. But they result in drones. Gee, I hope I have my facts right.
There were many flying bees disrupted by the commotion of moving things around, so Steve thought a little music might help keep us all calm.
Dead centre in the lower portion of the brood cells you will see a black fuzzy blop. This is a drone bee hatching out. There is one on either side of him coming out as well.
Michelle inserted the Queen's transportation box into each hive, and as they all get used to each other, she will emerge and start queening about.
A feeder bucket with sweetened water. This ensures that the hive has food until they get used to the area and find supplies of pollen they prefer. It also keeps the hive calm, knowing there is a food source easily available.
All tidied up and ready to roll. At this point, there are many, many bees flying about, looking for food and wondering if that big white thing is a threat and if the lady in the straw hat is edible.

and just as Michelle, the bees and I were all ready to collapse in our respective hives/homes, along comes Phoebe with her friend Randy and 30 lbs of lead to melt down.
Yes, melting lead over the BBQ in my pot used for storing kindling. Steve is making a boat (we won't make any comments on how long this takes because all you stitchers and gardeners know how long it takes a project to mature) and the boat needs a lead keel to balance the boat.
That woody thing on the ground between the BBQ and Phoebe's jacket is the wooden form they will pour into.
Phoebe loves this kind of thing. Randy is a bit worried because he normally melts only enough lead to make bullet forms. He works at the Citadel Fort where they re-enact 18th century life in the fort and making bullets is a cool thing for kids to look at. He's never melted this much lead before.
Trouble, trouble, boil and bubble.
 It was a very busy couple of days. Today, the bees are going about their business calmly. In two weeks Michelle will look inside the hives to see if the Queens survived or not. In the meantime, the keel has hardened and is in the garage 'seasoning' and my cast iron pot is ruined. I am getting ready for an exciting discussion with the fuel people to see if we can move the oil tank to a better spot for winter access and so we can repair a falling retaining wall. Excitement abounds.

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