Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Recent visit to the hives (and a friendly word of warning)...

The weather has been absolutely beautiful the last couple of weeks. While March can come in like a lion and leave like a lamb, most of this month has been worthy of all the lambs in North Carolina.  As you can see, the flowers are blooming and the trees are budding. Here you can see the Bradford pear trees at my house as they open and show their blooms.  

This past Friday, the temperature made it to a balmy 80 degrees, perfect weather for foraging for pollen. Here you can see the girls in the orange hive as they come and go from their home. Deciding that it was nice enough to fully open up the entrance to the hive, I removed the wooden reducers to give the girls plenty of room to some and go. While the holes are small enough to keep mice out, they also create traffic jams for the girls coming and going.

Here the girls have all the room they need to come and go. This was just after I fully opened the entrance. While I had the hive open, I scraped all the burr comb off, and I added a green drone frame to keep the burr comb down to a minimum. I also put a honey super on to keep the girls busy. The bees are bringing in all sorts of pollen, so I know they'll soon fill up the brood nest with honey. So now they can go to work filling the honey super.

The ladies that inhabit the green hive were not to be undone when it came to foraging. Actually, the bees in this hive seemed to bring in more pollen than the orange hive. I could see that the bees were having to wait to get inside the hive, so I also took the entrance reducer off this one too.

Take a look now that the entrance reducer is gone. And if you click on the picture, you can actually see the different kinds of pollen that the bees found on their foraging trips. I found bees bringing in bright orange pollen and a pale green pollen too. The dandelions are in full bloom as well as all sorts of trees and bushes. If they're finding this much pollen already, I can only imagine what they'll find in a few weeks when the pollen hits full force.

As I mentioned earlier, I added a honey super to the orange hive. Because the green hive is slower, I didn't add a honey super to it, and that's because I don't want to stress them. The good news though, the queen in the green hive is working. I found four frames of capped brood and freshly laid eggs so the queen is alive and well. Once I see more honey production in the green hive, I'll add a super to it as well.

The ladies in the green hive came to the top of the frames to see what all the commotion was about. Since it was just me, they went right back to work and forgot about me. Unlike the orange hive, I haven't had to smoke this colony quite as much to work with them. While the orange hive is full of bees, this one is a little slower and their numbers lower. But with the queen laying a good pattern, I think it won't be long before this hive will be teaming like their next door neighbors.

A WORD TO THE WISE: This is the time of year when the grass and weeds start to grow. Many of you are like me and prefer to keep a neat bee yard, and that means keeping the grass down. Always remember to be careful and protect yourselves when mowing or trimming around bee hives. I always prefer to wear a veil and gloves or my overalls to work around my bees, especially with a lawn mower or Weedeater. Bees can easily become agitated by the vibration, the exhaust, fast movements and flying grass. And of course, when they become agitated, their behavior can become completely unpredictable -- but chances are they will go on the defense. This past Saturday, while mowing with the riding mower, my bees went into a frenzy because I made a fast, close sweep by the hives and they followed me to the street. I should have known better..but I was in a hurry. Most of the time I make slow motions with the push mower while trimming close to the hives, but I was trying to save time and that turned into a mistake. Luckily I didn't get stung. But next time I might not be so lucky. So remember, when you're mowing close to your hives, take your time and mind what you're doing. My neighbors chuckle when they see me in full gear while mowing near my bees, but I'd rather be the butt of their jokes than picking stingers out of my butt (or my head or somewhere else) while trying to be bold. We all have to remember that bees are wild and we have to respect that. When they go on the defense, that's their instinct. You can never predict what they're going to do, and yes, that includes even the gentlest of bees. Happy bees mean happy beekeepers. Remember friends, its better to be safe than sorry!

Bee good everybody!


  1. great photo of your riding mower! my husband would have benefited from your post last summer. the bees almost ate him when he inadvertently blocked their flight path to the hive.

    your bee season is off and foraging kudos!

  2. Very informative blog. I am new at bees. Just caught a very small swarm 2 days ago. Put it in a TBH. also have a Langs at a tree for a trap-out. but that is as far as it goes so far. I want to try natural beekeeping..no treatments..Looks like your blog will be a big help.


  3. Bethany -aka- The Luddite: Well, I have to admit that isn't me with my mower? But that picture was so funny, I just had to use it. Mowing was one of the concerns I had when it came to getting bees. Most of the beeks told me that if I went slow and easy in mowing and trimming, I would be okay. And up until this past weekend, it was. But they got good and wound up when I made a pass with the riding mower -- not one hive but both. Richard Underhill, the beekeeping guru, told me that he feels the vibration of the common hive stand is what drove them into a frenzy. And he's probably right. So just remind your hubby to be careful and keep and eye on those girls! Hope you're doing well and gearing up for another season!

    Carol: Glad you stopped by and I hope you'll visit often! Good luck with your new swarm. I checked out your blog and they seem to be settled in just fine! Sounds like you did a great job in retrieving them! I'm looking forward to getting calls this year about swarms. My first last year was from a high school here that had a swarm under a picnic table. I caught them, but alas, they decided that city living wasn't for them and left. By the way, I added you to my blog feed so when you add more posts, we can all see them on my blog. Good luck!

  4. Hey Mark!
    Thanks for adding my new blog. It looks like your bees are doing really great so far this year! Beautiful pear blooms. Jess



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