It's been a couple of weeks since I have written to ya'll. We have been covered up.
We placed our order for 25 queens in February so that we could get on the list. Then we have to go hive to hive to hive to determine who needs a new queen and if the old queen is doing her job. 4 weeks ago we had to start re-queening. We check the hives for any problems like mite damage or overcrowding and queen cells. Then we mark our findings on a piece of duct tape and stick it to the outside of the hive so we don't forget what we decided on. When you have 4 bee yards this is a long process. We realize we were going to have some overcrowding and possibly a swarm, so we split the hives. Well this involves getting a new hive body, frames and a feeder. We then shake off some of the bees into the new hive and then move the hive to a different bee yard or the bees will just go back into the new hive. When we find queen cells, this tells us a couple of things 1- the old queen feels that there are too many bees and she is going to swarm, which you don't want because you lose half your hive and therefore your honey production drops way down or 2- they don't have a queen and they are making them one. Several of our frames had 3-5 queen cells on them in each hive. What we like to do is move those frames with the queen cells to hives that don't have a queen so therefore we can use our own queens. We like the light yellow or red bees they are much more gentle.
So we get everybody split and marked with notes and we just wait on the queens to get here. Well they finally arrive 3 weeks late and half of them are dead. That puts us 4 weeks behind. By this time my husband Bob is very red-faced and saying some unprintable verbs. :) Well while we were waiting on replacements we placed an order from Kohnen in California, they arrived in 2 days but were healthy and beautiful and ready to lay.
So we go back to the hived marked split or needs queen or old queen and we start placing queens. Now you don't just throw them in if you do that the bees in the hive will kill her. You keep them in the cage they are in and place them in the hive on top of the frames. That way the bees in the hive can smell her and get use to her AND she can acquire their smell. The hold in the queen cage is filled with bee candy (yum! to bees but not chocolate) By the time they eat the bee candy HOPEFULLY! they will have accepted her and she can get to work laying eggs.
We have had several obstacles to overcome this year. Late queens, cold, rainy weather and sometimes snowy weather. Due to this we have had to feed the bees on several occasions to keep them from starving. But it's all working out and the girls are happy.
So to sum up my past month, after my 8 hour a day REAL job I go home for 2nd shift. Work the bees until dark and then 3rd shift cook and straighten up the house.
I promise to write more later!
Ya'll be sweet now.