Monday, May 09, 2005


Today was a perfect sunny Spring holiday for bees, so as soon as the neighbors went to work, so did I. The task? First, to discover whether the New Queen introduced to Colony 1 three days ago was accepted, and therefore still alive and laying eggs, and second, to monitor the progress of uniting the poor troubled "laying worker" part of the colony with the nuclear colony containing the New Queen.

Just to review: the nuclear colony (or nuc) contains some bees and frames from rambunctious Colony 2, and our hope is that by placing it on top of (but separated from) the problem colony and gradually uniting them, all the bees will become one big happy honey hunting family.

We are pleased to announce that the New Queen, who is properly known as a Kona Carniolan, is a properly ensconced monarch. If you all want to start humming "God Save The Queen," I have no objection. When the colony was opened, I found her on the second frame containing brood, surrounded by a textbook circle of attendants (you can see some fuzzy photos via the link at right). Close examination of a frame of uncapped cells that was provided did not show any obvious eggs, and there was no new drawn comb in evidence, so of course there is a way to worry about this if I want to.

Now onto Task 2: Reunion

Looking down through the double screened board that we used to separate the nuc on top from the problem children on the bottom, there were no apparent hostilities. No bees were clinging to the screen on either side, though there was plenty of coming and going at the front entrance. It seemed we were ready to go ahead with the next step.

To slow the process of introducing potentially hostile bees to the same hive, beekeepers often create a barrier between two hive bodies with a couple of sheets of newspaper that they poke or tear a few times. The bees can't make holes in the paper, their mouth parts aren't built for it (another bit of bee knowledge from MaryEllen), but they can chew a path over time if you get the ball rolling. This is what was done today: we had some plain newsprint left over from when we moved in, and that seemed like a nicer choice than stuff printed with furniture ads and baseball scores. We made several small holes across the width and breadth of the paper, and then placed it on top of the laying workers, and beneath the nuc.

Let's all hope that there is enough life in the girls to get to it now. The energy level in there is still not what one hopes to see.

What about Colony 2?

Colony 2 is rocking and rolling as usual. I brought sugar syrup along today because those greedy gals can't seem to get enough, and Colony 1 might be starting to use more of it, too. When taking off the cover of Colony 2, they had drained it dry again! Rock on, Colony 2! The bees were actually so greedy that they started climbing into the feeder to drink while I was trying to fill it, even after being smoked. Hmmm. Wonder if it was BECAUSE they were smoked? Anyway, the next time someone acts all frightened about bees, tell them that I was lifting hungry bees out of a feeder with my bare hands, and was not even threatened with a sting.

Finally, a word about this whole "Colony" thing:

My friend Megan brought to my attention that this whole "Colony 1" and "Colony 2" thing was a little abstract and easy to confuse, especially since the two hives have such different personalities. "How about 'Red' colony and 'Blue' colony, or 'Go' Colony and 'Ambivalent' Colony, or some such?" says she. I don't want to go with "Red" or "Blue" because I do not want to find myself (or anyone else) politically biased against one or the other of the colonies. Also, if naming is at all fateful, it seems unfortunate to hang "Ambivalent" on a group of gals who may yet come around. My husband, I am sure, would like to name them "Godzilla" and "Mothra."

So this idea is under consideration. There is a comment link just below: you are welcome and encouraged to make suggestions!

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