Thursday, April 25, 2013

Apologies to the bee-phobic!

I know some of you have bee-sting allergies and bee phobias, so now is your time to check out another blog! :)

For the rest of you....

I inspected all four of my hives yesterday. When you crack open a hive after a long winter, this is a good thing to see...

So many bees! So many, in fact, that I am going to have to make sure they don't swarm in May!

And look at this beautiful frame of capped honey they have for themselves...

And I soon found the queen. Do you see her below? She's marked. And how about the eggs in those open cells? Hint: they look like grains of  rice.

That is my strongest colony. Lots of bees, lots of eggs and capped brood and a healthy laying queen. My beekeeper friend Pierre  will help me split this hive into two hives in a few weeks or so!

Beautiful bees! Can you see the girl in the lower right quadrant with pollen packed onto the "baskets" on her legs?

This is an excellent thing to see in April!

There was a queen in this hive too. Can you see her? She's marked but a bit trickier to spot!

I circled her to help you out!

 But waaaaait a minute. On the other side of that frame, I found ANOTHER queen! Two queens in one hive is NOT the norm. Can you spot the queen below? She's not marked but she's bigger, with a darker thorax (back)...

Here's a hint:

I think she's pretty obvious here:

So why two queens? Well, the hive has decided the old queen is past her best-before date, so they've made a new queen (the unmarked one above.) But she's still a virgin! Once she's gone out on her mating flight and returned after getting hot and heavy with many drones, the worker bees will KILL the old queen.

Long live the new queen! That's how it works in the hive.

Can you see the old queen in this pic?

There she is...

The poor dear. She's worked hard, but she's doomed. This hive is my weakest of the four, but there are eggs and larvae and enough bees that they should be able to keep going and become stronger with the new queen laying future generations.

So far, so good. Four hives have made it through the winter. We'll see how this whacky, two-queened one does, but the rest all look strong and I found queens and eggs in all of them, as well as ample bees and some honey stores, so I can breathe a bit more easily now.

And here is today's Alex-plea for donations for our OSPCA Friends for Life Walk-a-thon!

Hope you had a good day!


  1. They've done well!
    Dumb do they kill the old queen...sting her to death? Or something else.
    Bees are so beautiful. I had one sitting on the back of my hand last week..I think it could smell my hand lotion...poor thing flew off once he realised I wasn't a meal.
    Jane x

  2. Well, I've had an excellent look at your bees. i don't know if I'd have this goo of view if I was there. My last couple of stings have swollen up quite badly but I'm not sure it was a bee sting.

  3. I would loved to have been a bee keeper, but alas... The bees here are brought in by their keepers when the Chestnuts are in flower. Chestnut honey is NOT the best!

  4. Hmmm!!! I found a whole bunch of queens in those pictures!!! but then again I know nothing about bees :)

  5. The splitting of the hives.. is that to stop them swarming?

  6. I can see why you have so much affection for the bees. They are so interesting and make for a lively topic.

  7. Anonymous2:04 pm

    As a bee-phobic person, I have so many questions, but I won't bother you with them. I've recently started taking bee pollen gathered on a neighboring farm to help with my allergies (it does); seeing it gathered on a bee in the photo above was interesting. I'm slowly trying to train myself to be less phobic, so thank you for posting the photos & the descriptions; they help!

  8. I love bees. Such an interesting species, and giving us such a delicious treat. I never tire of your bees' stories and photos.

  9. As a bee newbie, I really enjoyed seeing this! We brought home our nuc on Tuesday and my husband couldn't wait to look inside. I have to admit I was scared so I stood back while he inspected things. The bees did seem somewhat aggressive, so he closed it up pretty quick and we'll check them again in a few more days. We've been making sure to feed them though. Yesterday we saw some bees bringing in bright yellow pollen - so cool!

  10. It's odd. The sight of a bee swarm is chilling to me, but when I see their cute little faces close up, it doesn't scare me. With their big eyes and fuzziness, they look cartoon-like.

    That poor old queen. I wonder if she knows she's doomed?

  11. Used to be a bee-keeper in the Highlands of Scotland, until one memorial Saturday night after a bath I foolishly decided to check the hive. Not a good idea as warm and perfumed I proceeded to lift off the lid; in fairness the bees did give a warning angry buzz. I carefully replaced the lid, stood for a minute, then crazily thought it'll be okay.... WRONG! Lifting the lid the second time the bees boiled over. Without protective gear, and a flowing kaftan, the sight of me running down the garden pursued by the extremely cross inhabitants must have been a sight for sore eyes. With dozens of stings, that night I thought I was going to die. It put me off bee-keeping but I'm happy to say not off bees. Your lovely photo's of the bees made me feel very nostalgic for my bygone bee-keeping days.

    I'm afraid I don't have your same love of cats, as you will see in my today's post!


  12. My mom-person LOVED to see all your Bee pictures <3

  13. I love seeing photos of your bees, the first one is awesome!


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