Some honey on the way

by Jorge

The odds for a good crop are increasing. Some of the strong colonies have already begun to gather a couple of boxes of honey. Most of the splits still have very little or nothing stored away for us. The bloom is pretty good, and we definitely have enough soil moisture to sustain the flowers if we could manage a couple of weeks of hot weather to work some magic.

In other news, our building has finally started to take shape after a few months of waiting for the rains to ease.

A new beeyard

by Jorge

This morning Alex and I moved several pallets into their permanent spot in a new location. The landowner has hosted our bees in one spot or another for the last fifteen years--now some land juggling has us at his future homestead. In total contrast to the homebuilders that wanted our bees off their land earlier this spring, Rusty asked us to put bees at the site where he wants to build a new home and dig a pond. Twenty-four colonies sit in the clearing I made yesterday, so he shouldn't have any shortage of honeybees to watch from his porch.

As soon as we got done with the morning move, the rains returned in earnest for a couple of hours. Clearing skies permitted me to start some more queens in the afternoon, but the forecast tells me that substantial rain is on the way for the next couple of days. We're starting to have some pressure to get the bees supered before Anthony's wedding this month. There may be supering in the rain if the weather persists in this manner. Ick.

The building (almost) begins.....

by Jorge

We had hoped that the building expansion for our honey house would get underway in February or March, but last week the weather cooperated enough to allow some dirt work.

When the addition is complete, we will have twice the space to work with. One section of the new building will house the extracting line, meaning we won't have to bottle and extract in the same room. That will free a lot of space and permit for larger equipment for bottling or extracting if we ever go that route.

Otherwise, the rain is back. Cool wet spring keeps hanging around--not great for bees to say the least.

Where have the queens gone?

by Jorge

After a slow, slow start to the beekeeping season, we have managed to run out of queens. There were an excess of them on order, but we distributed so many that we have run short ourselves. Enough to finish splitting should arrive on Friday.

I did not have much luck with the lot of queens that came from Mark Sundberg. I think that about thirty percent of them failed. The majority of the failures had no evidence of a queen two weeks after introduction, but in several cases the yellow queen was just walking around the comb not doing anything---not even drone eggs. In the end it seems lucky that the MN queens arrived second, otherwise I would have lost a lot of time on my splits with even more failed queen introductions. I will probably look elsewhere for MN Hygienics for next year. Perhaps he will have some explanation. Our Koehnen queens give us an acceptance rate that is normally over ninety percent.

Tomorrow I graft the first homegrown queens of the month behind the typical schedule.

Bees looking up

by Jorge

The weather has turned in our favor over the last several days. The bees are gathering fresh nectar and loads of pollen. It's a long road to full-strength colonies, but things are finally headed in the right direction. Some of the parent colonies that declined after I split them have turned the corner toward recovery. I also had a pleasant surprise when Alex and I visited ten of our two-pound packages that I installed four weeks ago. Most of those packages are now 6-8 frames of bees. Much better than I anticipated from my package observations in another location a week ago. Lastly, the splits I made on the first round have expanded sufficiently to warrant a second hive body. Hopefully things keep moving in a positive direction.

On the downside, here are a couple of photos from the latest American Foulbrood incident:

In the first you see the ropy brown goo of a recent infection, and in the other photo a few scales are visible in the base of some cells.

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