Thursday, May 12, 2016

Second Swarm, or 2nd-5th Swarm?

On May 11th, I saw scout bees investigating knot holes on the side of the barn. That happens when a colony either has or is about to swarm. It's a warning—go check the trees and shrubs around the bee yard. They usually cluster somewhere nearby. Here's what I found:
It looks like 4 swarms. More likely, one swarm got separated. I thought they'd eventually combine into one, but they seemed content to stay separate. I believe they parted over some disagreement over a doctrinal issue. I dumped them all into a cardboard box and left a small door open. Within an hour they settled their differences, and the stragglers climbed in the box. They weighed 6 lbs or approximately 21,000 bees. I saw the queen, a big blond.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Making artificial Queen Cells

To make queen cells, you round the end of a 3/8" dowel so it fits perfectly into a natural queen cell. That's what queen rearing books say, but the entrance of the cell is smaller than the interior, so you have to cut away the top without distorting the bottom of the cell. Plus, when you push a stick into a queen cell, the wax distorts. Just how accurate do you have to be, anyways?
So I tried using a natural queen cell as a mold.
4 queen cells and my queen cell sticks
 I didn't have epoxy, but gorilla glue expands to fill a cavity.
A little stick to fit into the queen cell, a bottle of gorilla glue...
Stick it in, let it set...
y, voila!
The glue is too porous to dip into melted beeswax, plus, looking closely the shape is quite irregular, somewhat like one of Mar's moons. My bet is the bees will prefer my queen cells over their own.