Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Bee Busy Day - honey and stings and where are the eggs

    I decided that I needed to pull some of the honey from the white hive this coming weekend.  Classes start soon, and I have a couple of shows to design and I know how busy things will get.  Another major factor is that I need to get the medicine on the hive to treat the verroa mites I have seen on some of the drone larvae and I can't wait until it gets cool, as it works better when temps are warm. Again - knowing the coming fall schedule, I'd rather err on the side of being too early.
    With this in mind, I went to my local bee guru, John McCoy. (If you live in my area, please buy his honey - it is in the grocery store as well as for sale at his honey house.) I went to buy a cappings scratcher, a honey gate, a fume board and the chemicals to chase off the bees from the supers.  John talked me out of buying the scratcher, and the fume board and chemicals, offering alternative ideas to help me accomplish the same end, without investing in expensive equipment. When I asked about renting his honey extractor this weekend, he looked at  me and said, "so early?"  I know I will be missing the goldenrod flow, but I have another super with foundation that the bees can use, if they get ambitious with the goldenrod.

    My daughter and I had checked the hives together the last time, and I decided that this time I would bring my husband as my helper - he is taller and stronger.  Good thing, as the white hive has a fair amount of honey - 6 frames nearly completely capped in medium supers. This gets heavy!

    I finally got my first sting.  I have been expecting it; statistically, I was due.  I think I may have set my hand down too swiftly near the bee, and she got the palm of my hand.  I had not been stung by a bee since I was about 16, and that one stung me on my lower eyelid, so I have a memory of great pain.  This was nothing. Yes, it hurt. But for just a few seconds and then, done.

    The biggest surprise was when we got into the deep hive bodies and saw no queen - not unusual for me as I rarely can spot her. Worse, we saw no eggs - no evidence the queen had been there in the past week, give or take a day.  Some capped brood was spotty and had nearly adult bees  - but not yet fully grown - with no cappings on their cells.  I looked in all twenty frames and saw similar brood patterns.  There was a good amount of capped honey.  There was a lot of comb filled with pollen.  But no eggs.  I am nervous.
   We got back into the house just after the thunderstorm which had been looming on the horizon decided to dump on our heads and hit the books and internet trying to find an answer to the mystery in our hive. I tried calling John, but he was gone for the day. Perhaps  since this is a time of dearth, the queen has cut back on laying - taking a little vacation, so as not to have more bees than there are resources for.  Or perhaps, she has died (although I saw no new queen cells).  But that doesn't explain the pupae with the tops open on their cells...
     Anyone with ideas or knowledge, please send me a comment.
     If all goes well - Saturday we will have honey!

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