Wax Moths – GROSS!

 

This appears to be the year to learn tough lessons. In my previous post I talked about what happens when a hive goes without a queen for way too long. Well I thought all was well but on giving the hives one more inspection I was greeted with a most disgusting sight. When I opened the hive there was what looked like Godzilla sized maggots crawling everywhere. There was also silk webbing all over the place. I had been invaded by wax moths. How could this happen? The hive that had the replacement queen was obviously very small and weak. The bees did not have enough numbers to properly patrol the inside of their hive. A wax moth can get in and lay eggs, or lay eggs under the hive and the larvae can crawl in and take up residence. Normally the bees escort these interlopers out of the hive but not if they are understaffed. This was exacerbated by my leaving too many supers on giving them even more room. The larvae eat into the wax where the bees can’t get to them and start eating right through all the baby bees growing inside. Absolutely disgusting! After talking with my friends at Sacramento Beekeeping I got creative. I put a fresh brood chamber with drawn comb on the stand with an inner cover on top. I then stacked all 4 boxes (supers and brood chambers) on top and put a fume pad on the very top. The fume pad is a board with felt on one side and is sprayed with a solution that smells bad to bees.  They move away from it.  The idea was to drive all the bees down into the new accommodations. Guess what? It worked . . . well kind of.  The bees all went down . . . and out. They went back but not before the queen flew away. She came back and I found her on the entrance of the hive . . . next door. The other hive was not very hospitable and they killed her. So I was off to buy queen #3 for this year. Since the hive was so depleted I took three frames of capped brood and their nurse bees and put them in the hive with the new queen. The next time I check the front of the hive I noticed Yellow Jackets flying in and out of the hive like they owned the place. Apparently there were not bees old enough to be guards so I closed off the entrance. Two weeks later all is well.  The queen, wearing her royal red dot is alive and surrounded by admirers.  We have eggs and baby bees (larvae). Some of the brood has hatched and the nurse bees took to the air when I opened the hive so I guess they aren’t nurse bees anymore! I opened the entranced and we will see how it goes over winter.

Tough year!

It’s been a tough year for Honey Bees. The plight of the poor honey bee even made the cover of Time Magazine! We managed to harvest a few pounds of honey, 143 to be exact, so we aren’t complaining.

However, one of our hives had a problem. It lost its queen and we didn’t notice. If they made a new queen then it didn’t survive the mating flight, so they were queen-less for quite a while. We finally noticed and added a queen only to find that they killed her. Why you ask? If a hive goes long enough without a queen then a worker bee, or more, will start to lay eggs. The problem is that workers have immature sex organs and cannot mate. Thus their eggs produce only drones (male bees). Male bees do nothing around the house, er hive, and these drones aren’t even healthy enough to go out and do their duty! The problem is that once workers start to lay eggs the hive thinks it has a queen and they kill any queen you introduce. So what to do? Jonathan and I had to take every brood chamber and super (the boxes that hold the bees) , take them to the other side of the yard and empty the bees on the ground. The theory is that worker bees that are laying eggs have swollen bodies due to laying eggs and thus can’t fly. So everyone flies home except the laying workers. Then we introduce a new queen in a cage so that they can get used to her and accept her. IT WORKED! Many thanks to Nancy of Sacramento Beekeeping for her patience and assistance, as well as the new queen! By the way, bees don’t like being tossed on the ground and we hope to not do this again.

We are very happy to have our honey being sold by both Fremont Massage and Wellness and now Mikey’s Country Store and Deli. Please visit our “where to buy” page for directions. Until then we are getting our bees prepared for winter. Spring 2014 is just around the corner.

Buy a Queen!

No sign of a queen in the swarm hive but that should not stop a beekeeper. Here’s what you do, buy a queen.

Catching Wild Bees!

Catching wild bees as a family! This was tough. The bees had separated into two groups with one about four feet higher than the other. I had no idea which one had the queen so I had to get both. I did not practice ladder safety on this one. I’ll work on that in the future.

Installing bees in a new hive

Here we are, installing bees in a new hive!

Fremont Honey is now available at Fremont Massage

You can get our honey at Fremont Massage and Skincare, in downtown Irvington.

Fremont Massage & Skincare
40900 B Fremont Blvd.
Fremont CA 94538