This weekend my friend Katriana was here to visit. Katrina won our hive naming contest two years ago. Little did she know when she came up with the name Drone Den she would be getting her very own colony of honey bees and a plethora of honey they produced at the end of the season.
Managing five hives is difficult, especially tracking all the activity in each colony. It became so much easier when we decided to give each hive a name to associate with their identity and activity. Finally, this weekend, after knowing each other via cyber space for some time now, we met and Katrina got to visit her bees.
It was a beautiful, sunny day. There was some activity outside the hives but not much. We got our protective clothing on, lit the smoker and headed into the bee yard. I love showing off the bees, especially to someone who really understands how important bees are to our agricultural system and food supply. Katrina is a expert in natural health foods and keenly interested in the link between bees and food sources. Plus she had total beekeeper zen! Calm, deliberate and thoughtful, perfect qualities for bee keeping!
We inspected her colony first, a good group of girls who's queen is just getting started in her laying. There wasn't a lot of brood but enough to make me happy. We easily spotted the queen, nice capped brood and we saw a few bees with pollen on their hind legs. That sight right now perplexes me. I don't know where the heck the girls are getting anything but I saw it plane as day, bright yellow and some dull brown sacs packed on the back legs of a few bees. Perhaps they have found some sawdust or some ground animal or bird feed, who knows. There is a dearth of pollen at the moment, not a single bud or bloom so likely they have found something to substitute. You can tell just by looking at the pictures how dearth it is! We have pollen substitute in the hives which the bees don't seem to be taking. It doesn't really matter though, the frames we are using from last year are packed with pollen so I know they are getting their protein. Anyway, it was fun to point out the sacs of pollen on the bees hind legs and to see the queen and some capped brood. We were even able to see some eggs.
We checked The Turquoise Bee next and while we found the queen my concern about her remains. I couldn't appreciate anything other than some spotty drone brood. A poorly mated queen will do this, lay drone brood which eventually will lead to the total demise of the colony. Sorry men, this is a world in which the girls rule! A drone laying queen is simply a reproductive mess and if she doesn't turn it around in the next few days she will have to go. I have never seen this problem before. We had a hive go to drone during our first year but that was because it went queenless and the workers started laying. I was hoping to get by without any queen drama this spring!
Finally Katrina smoked Patrick's Pollinator, probably the most active colony right now and we inspected her, found the queen and found a nice brood pattern underway. These are going to be some stellar girls, I can tell! I am really pleased with these girls and their queen, so far they are the best of the bunch!
I simply love taking people to the bee yard and finally getting met Katrina and introduce her to the bees was loads of fun!