Monthly Archives: June 2014

What the!?!?!!?

Follow-up to my previous post.

On Monday night, I opened up our hive, located the Queen and realized what I was about to do, was in fact a mercy killing. Her rear leg was actually only 1/2 a leg, making it impossible for her to effectively make her way around the frames, or even hang on properly. I thanked her for her service, and then did the deed. A new Queen was on order and we picked her up last night.

The Adventure Continues

Our adventure to re-queen our Canadian hive hit a small snag….when we returned from picking up our new Queen, only to open up the hive and find…a QUEEN!

What the?!?!?

So now we had two hives, and three Queens. We began to panic. How on earth did our hive have two Queens in it? The interesting part is that we both recall searching for the Queen the previous week when we suspected there was something wrong, and we located her, to find she was lame. Then out of nowhere, we swore we saw another Queen, but she disappeared quite quickly and after lots of searching we never saw her again, and after awhile we chalked it up to our lack of experience and there was no way the hive would have two Queens. Was there?

Ultimately we were wrong, and this colony in fact had two Queens – living on the same frame in the single box. So now what to do with the new Queen we just purchased? We called a beekeeper who lives nearby and asked him for advice. He generously offered us five frames of bees, so we quickly got some hive boxes together to assemble a third hive and we went to his home to pick them up.

When we finally arrived home we made space beside our two existing hives, put everything together and introduced the Queen to her new colony. Hopefully within a few days they will have accepted her and she will soon take charge of her new colony.

New Queen Bee introduction, to our unexpected hive.

New Queen Bee introduction, to our unexpected hive.

 

 

 

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The Reluctant Executioner.

In the four weeks following our hive setup, we have been watching the activity closely.

Our South African hive is buzzing with activity, and really thriving. The sky above our house is like a little freeway for honeybees! They are coming back covered in pollen and it is really exciting to watch.

Our Canadian hive however, is very slow in comparison. Yes, there are bees coming in and out of the hive, but not nearly at the rate of our other hive. At first we chalked this up to the fact that this particular hive came with one less frame, so we figured it would naturally be a bit slower. But when the activity level didn’t really increase over the next week, we decided to take a look around for the Queen.

Looking for the Canadian Queen.

Looking for the Canadian Queen.

After I finally found her, I noticed there was something wrong. Her movements were slow, and it seemed as though she had difficulty walking, and she eventually tumbled off the frame into the bottom of the hive. I carefully replaced her, and a few minutes later, it happened again. This was not due to my handling of the frames, but there was something wrong and she was unable to hold onto the frame properly. We knew we needed the help of an experienced beekeeper to help us assess the situation and decide what needed to be done.

Our local beekeeping club has a Mentor program and we were fortunate enough to have an experienced beekeeper pay us a visit and check out our hive. Our suspicions were confirmed, and our Queen has a damaged leg. We don’t know if she came to us that way, or if something happened in the hive, but it is an issue that must be resolved asap. Sigh.

We called a local beekeeper who raises Queens and he has one ready to go. So tonight, four weeks after starting this journey, I must remove our Canadian Queen, take her away from the vicinity of the hive and execute her. *sniff*. I’m sure this all comes with the territory and is to be expected, I just never thought it would happen so soon! We will let the hive sit Queen-less for three days, then pick up the new Queen and introduce her.

Off I go. With reluctance.

 

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We finally have bees!

Three weeks ago, on National Honeybee Day, we got the call. Two Nuc’s were ready for pickup. Finally!!!

The hives of choice were Canada and South Africa (nothing wrong with a little friendly bee rivalry between a husband and wife is there?).We were lucky enough to have a local beekeeper offer to come and help us hive our new bees – out came the burlap sack, scissors, propane lighter, smoker, suits, tools… my parents even came over to watch the setup. Before we began he gave us some very valuable advice.

  • Have all your tools ready to go before you start.
  • Go to the bathroom before you suit up!

 

Honeybees in Nuc.

Honeybees inside the Nuc – waiting to be transferred into their new hive.

Everything was handled so calmly, the bees really didn’t seem to be bothered at all. The transfer of frames into our new boxes took about 1/2 hour, with all of the instruction and so many pointers along the way. We found the queens in each of the colonies, however to my disappointment, they are not marked – it takes a sharp eye to spot them in amongst all of the activity of their respective hives, which is sure to prove challenging.

We are grateful we had an experienced beekeeper on-hand to guide us during this first crucial step. Our bees are now enjoying their new homes, buzzing about our neighbourhood, and returning with pockets absolutely stuffed with pollen.

 

Nucs and our new beehives.

Two Nucs of honeybees ready to transfer into their new homes.

 

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The Lucky Beekeeper

Well, after weeks of anticipation our free beekeeping equipment finally arrived in the mail. Yes, you read that right – free equipment. I feel like the luckiest beekeeper ever!

It all started when my husband (a PhD in Applied Mathematics) became a moderator on a web forum. He spent hours doing this, days, weeks, months! Evenings and weekends found him consumed with answering questions and making his way up the moderator ranks. I admit I became frustrated at this, because not a lot else was getting done. He was glued to his laptop. I used to call them his ‘virtual friends’. Well, one day, all his hard work paid off in an unexpected way, when a group from New York contacted him, asking for help with a product they were developing.

This was the start of a great working relationship and he eventually flew to New York (from the West Coast of Canada), to assist with a product launch. One of the persons involved had dreams of becoming a beekeeper – he took a course, bought all the equipment… and then along came a baby, so his beekeeping dream didn’t get a chance to take flight. He then made my husband an offer he couldn’t refuse. If we could use the equipment, it was ours! All brand new, still in sealed packaging and boxes. He would even ship it to us for free!

So here we are, with inspector jackets, various hive tools, brush, gloves and a smoker – delivered to our doorstep.

I Heart New York!

Equipment

 

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