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Monday, May 24, 2010

Lesson #9: Bees Sting. It Hurts. Avoid If Possible.

A lot has been going on. You could say I've been a busy little bee. Work (I mean my real, not fun job) has been hectic and by the time I am done either beekeeping, running errands or trying to keep up with my life I've tried to cope with the chaos. So lately I've neglected to keep the blog up to date! Lots has happened. Mostly good and some (especially in the last week or so) not good. I will try to get you caught up.

The colony that had to be replaced (the mean colony) is slowly....slowly........progressing. That is to say they are still alive and the queen is still laying eggs. They've been in the hive for a little less than a month but aren't filling up the frames as quickly as we'd like. On two occasions we've "robbed" full frames of brood or baby bees from the healthy hive and put them in the mean hive to give them a boost. This isn't something I would have done if I was managing the hives on my own but since this is a joint venture I have to be a team player. We don't always have the same opinion on managing the hives and it can be frustrating when I don't feel like my ideas are being considered but I guess there has to be compromise, which is a fancy word meaning someone has to cave. It might as well be me.

Some believe that one reason for the mean hive to be progressing slowly is because we've had some rough weather the last several weeks. Storms and lots of rain which makes it impossible for the bees to get out and forage. If you want my opinion I think we have just a lazy, nasty little colony of bees to deal with. I mean, just because the weather is bad doesn't mean they can't get stuff done in the house you know? They should have been drawing out those frames with comb for the queen to lay her eggs in but they just haven't gotten to it.....It feels good getting that off my chest. Anyway hopefully with a very sunny and warm week ahead we will start to see some improvement. If not, I am giving up on them and leaving them to their own devices. Survival of the fittest. I am putting my foot down and will refuse to steal from a good hive to give to a bunch of ungrateful ill-tempered slacker bees. More on my personal beekeeping views later...unless I forget.

A major event that occurred was Greg's first bee sting. Yep it happened. Last Tuesday we made the dumb decision to replace a pollen patty (extra bee food) inside the mean hive. The weather was crappy-mistake #1 and we were in a hurry-#2 so we decided not to suit up-#3 or smoke the hive-#4. We thought we'd be in and out before they knew it. Wrong. It was Greg's job to open the cover and my job to put the patty on the frames. There were a lot of bees hanging out on top (big surprise) and I didn't want to put it on top of them so I hesitated-#5. That is when one of those evil little monster bees went straight for him and stung him on the top of his hand. I am sure it's my fault. I shouldn't have taken so long. Poor Greg. His hand swelled up and was sore for days. I bet I will get it any day now. They have it out for me. I know it.

The healthy hive has been doing fantastic! So well that we just added a honey super to the hive yesterday. A honey super is a box of frames only for honey storage. Yea! We put a plastic screen down between the brood boxes and they honey super so that the queen can't go laying eggs in our- I mean the- honey. She is too big to fit through the screen but the workers can still get through to store nectar which will eventually turn into honey. The wild raspberries on my parents property are in full bloom so this has been keeping them busy for another week or so until the clover and flowers start blooming.Putting the honey super on also means that the healthy hive has graduated from needing to use the syrup feeders. Now there will be less sugar syrup to make thus less syrup to spill on my clothes and car.

Unfortunately Greg had another mishap yesterday. This time with the smoker. The sides of the bee smoker get really hot. I mean REALLY hot, and he burned the tip of his finger pretty badly when he grabbed it. Poor guy. Yesterday was the first time I've ever seen him dance....he also dropped the f-bomb right in front of my mother. I think she took it pretty well.

Besides tending to the bees we've been busy planting trees, wild flowers and clover in the bee yard...aka my parents' prairie. The deer have been busy eating them down to stubs. I am hoping to get pictures of the hives, flowers and trees up soon...unless I forget.

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