Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Loaded!

...with pollen, that is! My two hives of bees survived the winter and seem to be doing well. Yesterday I watched them flying in, absolutely loaded with pollen.


They gather the pollen by packing it into "pollen baskets" on their hind legs. The big yellow blobs you see on these girls are full loads of the stuff! Pollen comes in various colours; I saw shades of yellow yesterday.  I was told that around here, the girls take pussywillow pollen in early spring. Other flowers are starting to bloom now, too. I have seen daffodils in sheltered areas, but mine aren't out yet.



I don't have the winter wrapping off the hives yet, but will do soon.



Look at all that lovely pollen. Food for baby bees!

It's great to see the girls out foraging after a long, cold winter. In a few weeks, we will be splitting the hives. My mentor is bringing us two new queen bees. We will split each of the hives, and install a new queen in each half. Voilà, four hives from two! 

If you don't manage your hives in this way, your hives will manage themselves. The hive will make a new queen in preparation for swarming, When they are ready, half the hive will leave forever with the new queen, leaving the old queen and their hive-mates behind. The bees will look for a new place to set up shop, like the hollow trunk of a tree.

We beekeepers prefer not to lose our bees in this way, so we do what we can to prevent it! I have never split a hive before so I am looking forward to learning all about it.

Be kind to honeybees!


9 comments:

  1. Looking forward to hearing about the splitting of the hives. Do the old queen and the new queen not try to kill each other? I remember having a metal screen divider at one point - perhaps this was to separate two queens, but allow the workers access to all the frames? Too many years ago, and too much water under the bridge to recall all the details.

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  2. Can you keep doing that every year or will there eventually be too many bees to fit in the hives?

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  3. Ah now that is a wonderful sight. I have gazed into my crystal balls and I can se your future involves honey, lots of honey!

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  4. Love the 'Be kind to" mantra. I think I like honeybees more than snakes, though!

    interesting about splitting the hives. I will stay posted.

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  5. Fascinating! I am learning so much from you, Natalie. Just love it over here at your blog.

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  6. Musical Gardener, I think the screen divider you are thinking of is a queen excluder, which you use to keep the queen out of the honey supers (boxes), so that she doesn't lay eggs in there. And when we split the hives, we'll be setting up the new queens in whole new hive boxes, so there will be four queens, four hives, and no intermingling. :)

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  7. LBM, I believe you continue to split hives as they increase their populations each year. It's good to have so many bees that they require splitting; the flip side of that is having all your bees die out in winter so that you have to start again from scratch. :(

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  8. Jams, I am hoping for considerably more honey this year. We did entirely sell out last year's stock, which wasn't bad!

    Lynn, I will try to take lots of pictures of the splitting.

    CogDis, I love your blog too so the feeling is mutual. :) Thank you!!

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  9. Great post. I love honeybees. I'm looking forward to hearing about the split. :)

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