It's time for a beekeeping report. I'm glad there's so much interest. When I first decided I wanted to keep bees a couple years ago, I searched all over for beekeeping bloggers, and didn't find much. Now it seems there is a plethora of beekeepers out there. It's so great!
I don't know if I mentioned that my new hive finally arrived, and I've assembled everything that wasn't already assembled, and painted all the exterior surfaces to protect the wood from the weather. The inside doesn't get any paint, because those fastidious little bees would likely chew it all off. They are a very tidy bunch. My hive has some frames with comb tied in with rubberbands. Since they're a new hive, the beekeeper gave them some pieces of comb to get started with, and they break off those bands just as fast as they can, and shove them out the front door. Sometimes they remove the bands faster than they can get the comb firmly attached to the frame as I learned on my second hive inspection, when all that fresh new wax just fell out of a couple frames as I lifted them up. I had to re-band them in place. One fell straight down into the hive, and it was quite nerve-wracking to stick my hand down in there to retrieve it. I did it, though, and they've since started building it out even more.
I'm still cracking myself up every time I think about my hive name, so I blatantly stole this idea from Leigh of Burbs and the Bees, and stenciled my queen's name on the front of the new hive. I'm too lazy to fit the entire "Von Trapp Family Stingers" on the hive, so that will remain my own little joke. I'm quite pleased with the results. I just got the alphabet stencils at Michael's, and made my own crown stencil. I also added the little medallion up top. I think I'll move everyone over this coming weekend. Better to do it now, before the hive gets too big. Excuse my messy shed.
I've been inspecting my hive most weekends, and it's growing slowly. I just hope they'll be strong enough by the end of the Summer to be able to make it through the Winter. Because we're in the mountains, flowers bloom later, so until there's a good nectar flow, I won't see a lot of growth. I'm also watching what is blooming, and noticing what the bees seem to like. I thought they would be all over the lavender, but so far they've just ignored it. Maybe it needs to open more? They loved the rosemary, but with only two bushes, there wasn't much there for them. I took a bunch of rosemary cuttings this past weekend, and am going to try rooting them and planting them around the yard so there will be more for them next year. They weren't interesting in the lilacs, and I haven't seen them in the honeysuckle, which surprises me. We have mustard all over the place, and I've seen a few bees there, but not many. There are wild flowers blooming around the valley, so maybe they're just foraging elsewhere.
There is nectar and pollen in most of the frames, with brood cells in the middle. I've been seeing lots of eggs and larvae, although I haven't actually seen my queen the last couple inspections. It's likely that her attendants have cleaned the green dot off her back, but as long as I see eggs in various stages of development, I know she's there.
If you look at the last picture full-sized, you might be able to see the tiny rice-like eggs.
Twice now I've witnessed them doing an orientation flight. The first time it happened I freaked out a little bit, and thought my little colony was going to swarm, but it turns out that it was just a bunch of new bees getting ready to start going out to gather nectar, pollen and water. On a nice afternoon they will go out and hover in front of the hive to get their bearings. It looked like a traffic jam to get in the hive. I went back to check on them a little later, and everything was back to normal. Here's a good video of bees on an orientation flight.
Oh, and I didn't want to forget to share this helpful tip. Be sure to toss your cat in your purse before leaving for work. You never know when you might need to have a cat handy. I personally prefer a calico-tabby mix, but you have to decide what works best for you.