In honor of Pollinator's week, I thought today's blog I'd give you an update on the honeybees in my back yard.
The first photo shows the bees about 10 days after being in the hive box. Each hive box has 10 frames inside with plastic sheets. The bees cover these sheets with wax that they produce. The wax is very clean and nice at this point.
Next, the queen comes along (see photo with circled queen).
She lays one egg into each of the hive cells. The queen has one job -- laying eggs. She is fed, groomed, and doesn't leave the hive even to go to the bathroom. That is all taken care of by her attendants.
At the same time, the female honeybees are gathering nectar (flower juice - carbohydrates), and pollen (flower 'seeds' - protein) to feed the baby bees. This third photo shows you how the red pollen is packed into the hives. According to my beekeeper friends, this looks like maple pollen.
Once the egg grows to larvae stage, the honeybees cap the cell and the larvae continue to grow, hatch and get to work. It is a beekeeper's job to make sure the bees have enough room to grow and expand the hive. Since we put the bees in our back yard, we have added second box with 10 more frames. Considering the queen lays between 1000 - 2000 eggs per day we estimate that at this time each hive box contains about 10,000 honeybees at this time.
Another thing we must do as beekeepers is check for queen cells. If the hive decides they don't like the queen or if she is not laying eggs quickly enough, they will produce another queen. The 'old queen' needs to leave - but with her goes about half the hive so we don't want that to happen. We've been lucky, no sign of queen cells -- both hives are happy.
Our next step is to put on honey supers. They are smaller boxes with shorter frames for honey storage. We put a special screen between the two bigger boxes and these smaller boxes so the queen cannot enter that area. (The screen is perfectly sized so the smaller worker bees can make it through, but the queen cannot.). If we are lucky enough and the weather holds out, we will keep stacking honey supers up until around August when we will take some of the honey for human consumption.
What kind of questions do you have about honey bees?