This years bees have us baffled! πŸ

We all know my track record for keeping bees hasn’t been awesome. But I’d like to take credit where it’s due. I can decorate a hive and paint it in a useful manner. πŸ˜‚

This year we used The Real Milk Paint Co’s Milk Paint again. It has less fumes and off gassing, hypothetically translating to bees happier with their home. (A beekeeper in Elmore, VT gave me this tip.)

Each box received two coats of the β€œSandstone” color.

The next step has me question how can I put a design on my hives but make it functional as well? Arrows! You should always put the boxes facing the same way you removed them since the bees remember the location.

Colors are: Betsy Ross Red and Stone Blue.
Add in some vinyl work from my circuit and some Of my favorite Ellen quotes!
Also some Oprah quotes!

Bee package installation day! All went as planned. The bee packages were handed out randomly. I was told they were inspected for health. Last year we received certificate proof, this year verbal. Both queens seemed ok, they were put in their hives with the cork in their smaller screened box. This gives the bees time to accept her as their queen.

The Saskatraz bees came in plastic bee packages. They can snap together for ease of moving. I think this made it safer for their trek across the country. The bees were from California but, the queens were from Canada. This trip can be very stressful for all parties involved…even the beekeeper. This isn’t a cheap hobby but as you know any beekeeper doesn’t do this because of the cost.

Shout out to Eric for mulching the bee yard and expanding it outside the electric fence… all in the pouring rain!

This video was right after install. You will see lots of bees “setting their gps” oriented themselves to their new location.

The next afternoon we had to release the queens. When we got to the hives we noticed there was a good amount of dead and barely moving bees in the package that was installed on Ellen BEEgenerous’ (left) hive. My father in law and I found this odd but also thought they may have had a really rough trip. When we released Ellen instead of trying to go directly into the hive she went back into the box. I think if I was trapped in a small box for several days I’d be disoriented as well. We peeled back the screen and got her in. Oprah WinBees’ release was text book. We released her and she went into her hive to work. (So we think.)

See all the bees in the left package verses the right?

My friend Carey in Morrisville worked with the same beekeeper as us. When she released her queen it appears she flew away. In hindsight we wish we both knew of an alternate method of releasing the Queen. On installation day we could have removed the corks and inserted a mini marshmallow. The worker-bees would slowly eat through it to release her. Thus having less human involvement in the beginning but also allowing time for the bees to get acquainted with the queen.

Here comes the bad news….

Did you notice anything in the above video?

No bees are flying around Ellen BEEgenerous’ hive. Upon inspection they were all dead at the bottom of the bee box. I contacted the beekeeper I work with and she said this just happens and in two weeks we can split the other hive. I have been researching splitting a hive quite a bit. There is a local beekeeper in town that runs a class specifically on doing this correctly. There are so many trains of thought on this. Do we try and maintain one strong hive we can get though this winter? Do we watch for signs or a swarm and only split them if that happens? Do we go ahead and split them because two is better than one? All great questions and I honestly don’t have an answer.

The hive that died was the same hive that was our weaker colony last year. The only difference between the two hives is the location (two feet) and the bottom boards. The left has a screened bottom board and the right has a solid one. The screened bottom board has a removable insert. Is is handy when checking for mites. See picture below. We are suspicious where our hives are placed perhaps a screened bottom board allows for too much airflow. Especially with the cooler temps we had this winter and the cool and rainy spring this year.

Photo credit: https://beebuilt.com/blogs/backyard-beekeeping-blog/solid-vs-screened-bottom-boards-which-is-right-for-you

The awesome garden Eric & my FIL made me. How can the bees not like this home?🐝

This video was taken Thursday May 30th. The bees look super happy and busy. We inspected the hive today June 1st. There are a ton of bees and they all seem very happy. My father in law and I were shocked to see no brood nest. No eggs, larvae…and no queen spotted. This is why we are baffled…A queen less hive that is happy? I suspect the queen was laying eggs at one point since there are so many bees. Also my father in law thought he saw brood when we inspected a week and a half ago. We did however spot two queen cups on one of the frames (example of a queen cup below). I took to the Internet after the inspection and learned I should have looked inside the queen cups for a growing queen. Since we have never run into this before I was clueless. The few blog posts I read said if the bees are happy and not agitated that means they could be re-queening. I certainly hope this is right!

Photo credit: https://www.foxhoundbeecompany.com/beekeepingblog/what-is-a-queen-cup?format=amp

Incase you are wondering why I haven’t gotten any close up photos or videos this year. This is a reminder of how allergic I am to bees…luckily my parents bought me a new bee-suit for Christmas. My gloves don’t allow for touch screen use. Hopefully I will figure out a solution soon!

Fingers crossed for a new laying queen when we check the hive next week or maybe the original Oprah WinBEE needed a break!πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

Happy June all! 🐝

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