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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

We're Queen-Right!

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

We're Queen-Right!

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We've been in our bees a few times since the successful install two weeks ago. We checked on the queen about four days after the install, and her nurse bees had almost completely eaten their way out of the candy plug in her cage; there was an opening large enough to allow worker bees in and out, but since the queen is larger than the workers, she was still trapped inside. We do our weekly check and maintenance on the weekend; by the time we went back into the hive on Saturday, she was out.

That was our first hurdle overcome. Next up: making sure that she's laying eggs or "queen-right." The frustrating thing about the bees is that I can stand in front of the hive and watch them zip out and back in with their pollen baskets loaded with different-colored pollen, and I can guess that means something right is going on inside, but it's impossible to actually know without opening the hive, which is something you don't want to do every day. (I would gladly open the hive every day, if it didn't set them back in their work to do so. I don't think I'll ever get tired of going into my bees.)

The question for this weekend, then, was if we were queen-right. As new beekeepers, we also had to ask if we'd actually be able to accurately spot if there were eggs or larvae in the comb.

As it turns out, that was easier than I'd thought it would be. We opened the hive and checked the end frames first to see if we'd need to add a second super. Supers are the boxes that contain the frames where the bees build comb and store brood and honey. Once the bees have built comb on seven of the eight frames, it's time to add another super because, otherwise, they'll start feeling overcrowded, and overcrowded bees will breed a new queen and swarm.


Ours had comb completed on 6.5 of the eight frames, so we'll likely be adding a new super next week.

Then it was time to inspect the comb itself for eggs and brood. The queen lays a single egg inside each honeycomb. The eggs are tiny and very hard to see. They look like miniature grains of rice sitting upright in the bottom of the comb. There are many eggs visible in this comb.



The next frame over was teeming with bees. Inspecting this one, we saw immediately that it was further along than the first frame: There were larvae in all stages of development. Two big dark drones (male bees) were wandering around on this frame; every now and then, you'd see a worker bee butt poking out of a comb. She was feeding the larva inside.

You can see the larvae inside some of the combs as pale crescents curled along the wall of the honeycomb.



While we were ogling and squeeing over the larvae, we also spotted the queen moseying along the side of the frame. We plunked the frame back into the hive; losing the queen is not something we want to deal with!

And The Beekeepers, kindly photographed by Neighbor Bob, who wandered over to check out the action ... but kept his distance. (You can tell by my beekeeping wardrobe compared to Bobby that I don't have that much sense.)


Bobby and I have done many exciting things in our almost-four years here up in North Carroll. It sometimes seems impossible to imagine how much I've learned in our four years here ... or to contemplate how ignorant I was when we chose this house four years ago because we liked the size of the yard for Alex and the maple grove out back! But of all the things we've done, the bees are by far my favorite.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • Wow! Don't you look absolutely adorable. Is that a dress or a tunic? Looks terrific on you. Fascinating pictures of the bees and great explanations. What fun!

    Hey, quickie OOT question. Did anyone have dibs on writing a bio of Eol or can I do him for next month?
    • That is an ancient dress that I bought back in the beginning of my college days. It used to be loose on me, but it still fits! :D The white tie isn't part of the dress; it's part of my bee veil, but it works. ;) I gave up on the full suit after my first time in the hive; it's hot and I don't mind contact with the bees so get to be the stylish beekeeper. ;)

      I just searched "eol" on the SWG reference account and my personal email account and I didn't find any claims for him, so have at him! :)
  • They're so cute! I love the different stripes on the different individuals.
    • I think they're cute too! (I should have known that if anyone else on my flist would find 10,000 stinging insects cute, it would be you! ;) I like their fuzziness.
  • Well, just make sure the chickens don't feel lonely, even if the bees are your favorites!
  • Bee butts are so cute! ^_^
    • They are! Not so much when they're stinging, but when they're poking out of honeycomb ... absolutely! :)
  • Looks like you've got some happy bees! If we lived in the country, or even close to, we'd def. have bees! (My sweetie is into bees as well.)
    • Hey, you know, urban beekeeping is pretty hot right now ... ;)

      Bees are awesome! I'm really relieved that ours are doing well. (I had this nightmarish thought of going in to the hive one day and finding them all dead ...) Now if we can just avoid the worst of the varroa mites and other bee problems ...
  • Oh! That is SO cool and awesome! I wish you much luck and lots of honey!

    Now y'all need to get some dogs and sheep that are trained to wait on tables!
  • Amazing! Hope you get lots of honey.
  • Awesome, Dawn. So glad that you are happy and that your bees also seem to be. It's pretty cool.

    - Erulisse (one L)
  • OMG, that's really impressive. I mean WOW! I wouldn't dare get close to honeybees (allergic here), even though they aren't aggressive, most of the time, and only mind their own business.

    Good luck!

    • Allergies are definitely a different ball of [bees]wax! :) I doubt I'd be so confident and comfortable either if I faced the possibility of an anaphylactic reaction every time I went into the hive. I've been stung many times and have never had a problem, so I'm hoping that will continue. (My uncle developed allergies after many years and many stings, so I may not be so lucky always ...)
  • You can tell by my beekeeping wardrobe compared to Bobby that I don't have that much sense.

    It's only "not having sense" if you actually end up getting stung. I don't know about the breed of bee you're using (with the bright butts and only light fuzz, I'm guessing Ligustica?), but ours here (Carnica and a cross-breed called Buckfast) are generally rather docile, and even beekeepers who work only with a veil or entirely without protection don't get stung very often. ^^
    • Yep, they're Italians/Lingustica. :) When we had beekeeping class, most of the beekeepers teaching the class wore only the veil. Some didn't even wear that but did caution that it increases the incidence of stings from bees getting caught in shirt collars, et cetera. Also, they had some interesting tales to tell of bees crawling up noses and in ears! :) They recommended wearing the veil but going with what's comfortable for all else. For me, that happens to be a brightly patterned floral dress! :D

      Edited to add that Italians are the recommended bees around here because of their docility as well. :)

      Edited at 2011-05-23 06:13 pm (UTC)
  • *barely recovered from the bees-up-the-nostrils-and-into-ears story*
    I think I'll stick to cats and dogs
    Send my regards to neighbor Bob ;)
    • I will! :D Neighbor Bob will be thrilled to get greetings from a place far-flung from ol' Carroll County, I'm sure! (Really and truly, he will be.)
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