Seedtime & Harvest Newsletter This week’s produce is bright, beautiful and delicious!
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May 30, 2014 It is becoming a routine.Saturdays, after Market, after… the trailer is unloaded, all the plants watered, irrigation changed, crops checked for insect infestation, Henry in bed taking a nap … I make some cane sugar syrup, start a fire in my smoker, load extra boxes and frames onto the Gator, grab my buckets of pine cones, paper, and hive tools, don my white beekeeping coveralls, veil, and leather gloves, and head out to check on our honey beehives.
It’s my time.
Time to look at what the bees are doing.
Is there evidence of a queen? Eggs? (I finally saw my first eggs a few weeks ago with a special pair of beekeeping glasses.) Larvae? Capped brood? Mites? Are they building new comb? Are they making any honey? Storing any pollen? Any swarm or supersedure cells? How much drone comb?
Time to talk to them.
“Knock, knock. Can I come in? I just want to see how you are doing. Wow! You are working hard! Look at this beautiful new comb you are building! And I see larvae and lots of nice capped brood. Oh, there she is! Your queen is SO beautiful!”
“Ok, I’m out of here. Please move aside. I need to put the lid on and don’t want to squish anyone. Thank you, thank you. I’ll see you again next week.”
The last couple of times I have been wearing rubber coated gloves rather than the big thick leather gloves that go up my arms over my elbows. The rubber gloves give me much more dexterity than the leather. Lots of bee keepers work with bare hands. Some work without coveralls. No one skips the veil.
So I thought I’d start slow. Rubber gloves first. Then bare hands.
No problems. Work went easy and quickly. I could strike a match. I could rip off a piece of tape. No stings. Cool!
Last Saturday I had to go through our biggest hive, 4 deep boxes. I had run out of time the week before so the big hive was on the schedule. I planned to take all the boxes apart and look at each frame, decide if the boxes need to be rearranged.
Big Hive had survived the winter with flying colors. West Hive had struggled a bit more but did survive. East Hive had lots of honey in the box above the brood nest but they refused to cross the space between Box 1 and Box 2. They had probably run out of honey in Box 1 during a cold spell and rather than risk chilling the brood nest to move up to Box 2, they starved in Box 1 with honey just above their heads. When we had a break in the cold weather, I set a pollen patty and a sugar cake vertically directly above them but couldn’t entice them to make the move.
I had looked through Box 4 of Big Hive and was going through Box 3. BAM! A dedicated guard bee decided I was much too close and much too dangerous for the well-being of her hive. BAM! On my wrist this time. BAM! The other hand took a hit.
I tried using the hive tool to scrape the stingers out of my skin through the glove material.
Queen bees release pheromones that keep the hive united. Eggs and larva have a familiar scent to the nurse and forager bees. Stinging also gives off a scent which riles up the other guard bees.
I was in trouble! Bees were buzzing louder and louder around my head as they warned me of things to come. I slowly lowered covers on the two open boxes and headed back to the garage for the big awkward leather gloves. Three stings in one minute and only two stings all last year. The bees won!
With the leather gloves, I continued all the way down to the bottom of the hive, moved Box 1 into position 3 and put it all back together again.
“Thank you, Ladies! You are doing a good job! See you later.”Will we see you in the morning?
PS. Our veggies are delicious and our flowers gorgeous!
PSS. Please pray for rain.