There are numerous phrases we use in everyday speech that often we don’t fully understand their meaning until we come face to face with their origin. Nitpicking was one of those terms that came to life to me when my family of 5 got infested with lice! Ohhhh how that term brought on all new meaning! As I spent hours picking nits out of the long hair of my young daughters….. I will never forget it! Busy as a bee is now one of those phrases that is coming to life for me as we are getting to see firsthand how busy these bees are.
Philip is the head beekeeper, therefore he spends hours learning all he can about the apiary. He feeds and cares for our hives. We are learning there is quite a bit of maintenance involved in this endeavor. I help as needed and I am picking up bits and pieces from his research. I have to admit, bees are fascinating!
Observing the Busy Bees
Philip was concerned that he hasn’t been able to find the queen in one of the hives. Combined with the development of queen cells, he has also noticed a lot of bees on the outside of the hive. The bees on the outside can be an indication the bees are getting ready to swarm or leave the hive. Since we just invested in these hives, it’s very concerning that they might be preparing to leave!
Consulting the Experts
He inquired at our local apiary and was told that as long as he can find eggs, there is no need to be concerned that the queen has left the hive, she’s just hiding and the bees on the outside might simply be hot. We have had some near 90 degree days here in Florida already this year, so the inside of the hive will be several degrees warmer.
A Peek Inside the Busy Beehives
Philip got some really amazing photos of our bees. It’s amazing how much such tiny creatures can accomplish! They work together towards the goal of producing food for the colony and caring for the young. Join me as we peek into the Kowalski Apiary!
The yellow cells in this frame that are open are uncapped honey. The white section of this hive is called capped honey. The bees cap it to preserve for future use.
The yellow enlarged cell with a peanut shell-like texture is the start of a queen cell. I also find the sections of comb the bees are just starting to build interesting, it’s amazing how intricate their work is.
These are more developed supersedure queen cells. The bees develop these cells to replace an aging, ill or missing queen. The queen that emerges, supersedes the old queen. They are referred to as a teacup until an egg is present. The advantage of buying our nucs locally is that we know our queens are young, only about a year old.
The tiny rice-looking grains are eggs. A sure sign that the queen is present. These eggs that are marked are 1 to 3 days old. Philip dated the image. On the outside of the marked eggs, you can see multiple sizes of larvae in the cells.
The cells at the bottom of the frames, usually with twelve cells across the bottom are swarm cells. The bees can develop these cells when they are preparing to swarm or leave the hive. Bees may swarm if they feel crowded, the queen will take half the hive with her, leaving the old hive to develop a new queen.
Providing an additional box on top of the hive provides them with more space if they feel crowded and less likely to swarm. Another option would be to split the hive into more than one box.
Such busy bees, hard at work!
Our local apiary that has been a wealth of information as we dive into this new endeavor, DJ Apiary https://www.facebook.com/dandjapiary
About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.