Monday, May 31, 2010

Back in bees-ness!

Sorry for the pun! My bees arrived Saturday night. My mentor forced swarms into my two hives and I have two young and possibly sexy Carnolian queen bees hard at work, laying eggs:

They are closer to the house this year, behind the garage with several varieties of mint plants growing around them, which they should love! Last year they were way out in the back of beyond, by the pond in our woodlot. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The hive on the left is my fancy new hive of British design, the one on the right is my old used standard hive. It'll be interesting to see if one hive fares better than the other, although the green one is already ahead because it has drawn comb (the wax has already been drawn out into hexagonal cells by the bees, rather than being a flat sheet of foundation), whereas the one on the left does not.

My mentor William brought the hives over in his truck after sunset on Saturday, and he and Gordon quickly put them in place. The girls were, not surprisingly, quite cranky after their journey. Poor Gordon didn't move away fast enough; he came up to me in the semi-dark, gesturing at his firmly shut mouth. Impaled on his top lip was a very agitated honeybee! I quickly pulled her off, then we went inside the house and I removed the stinger. The unfortunate bee did not survive. When honeybees sting, they do it as a last measure because if the sting a human/mammal, the stinger gets caught in the skin by its barb and rips out the bee's abdomen!

The result is that Gordon now has lips that would be the envy of Goldie Hawn:

Meanwhile, things were going fine at the hives on Sunday. Here's a worker bee being met by a guard bee as she flies back with a load of pollen. That yellow "ball" at the top of her hind leg is actually pollen stuffed into her pollen "basket." She has one basket on each of her rear legs:

And here are the cranky bees in the green hive. After I took this, one came at me and started bouncing off my hair, buzzing angrily. This is always a sign that it's time to walk quickly away from the hive!

I have to put a new super (in this case, a deep box like that already on the hive) on top of this, because according to William, the girls have almost filled all the comb in this hive already with honey and brood! Tight quarters -- no wonder they are cranky.

In my first year of beekeeping, I was not stung once! Gordon and I have both been stung in the past, though, and didn't have allergic reactions, so we should be safe from anaphylactic shock, (although I understand that can develop at any time, but isn't all that common.)


  1. Knatolee, the bees are so interesting! I really want to get bees here on my farm. My parents used to have honeybees when I was very young, and I have always wanted them since then. I need to get a bee mentor!

  2. Good luck with all those bees & do hope your assistant with the bee-stung lips is on the mend. Looks like you had a blast in New York - one of my favourite cities as well - you can never have enough time there - so sad when the money runs out and you have to come home.

  3. Bees are so interesting. I would love to have a hive, but there is nothing in the woods for them to eat. Hope your bees have a great year!

  4. I think bees are one of the coolest bugs on the planet. If I had the space, I'd totally get myself some bee boxes!

  5. Lynn, you must keep bees! :) I found the Beesource forums VERY helpful:

  6. Barbara, Mr. Angelina Jolie picked up some strong antihistamines yesterday and the swelling seems to be going down. ANd I need to get back to NYC!

    Callie, bees do like pollen from trees in early spring!

    WanderingCat, you really don't need a lot of space. They keep bees on rooftops in NYC! A lot of people have a couple of hives tucked away in their backyards.


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!