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Indoor Bee Hive

Wow,  this seems like a very cool idea for educators and people who just want to get closer to their honeybees.   http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/observationhive.phtml

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The bees have filled up the first hive box with comb and brood, and so a second hive box has now been added.  No signs of foulbrood, varroa mites or other infestations.  We think the queen made a special flight appearance while we were checking the frames, as a large bee with a very unusual buzz appeared.  Hopefully all are settled back into their larger, expanded home and doing what bees do.

second hive box

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Despite the recent cold and rainy weather, the bee colony has been busy!  To this point, their food supply has been supplemented with sugar syrup, which helps maintain their nutrition while the spring blooms continue to appear.  Because flowers & trees bloomed earlier this year, there was ample pollen in the area, and we didn’t have to provide supplemental pollen patties, which is normal.  As soon as we approached the hive, we could see the bees were in a bit of a traffic jam, with the entrance reducer on the hive still set at it’s smallest opening.  As soon as we opened the entrance to its next largest setting, the bees didn’t hesitate to use it in greater numbers.  We carefully inspected the frames and found evidence of what appeared to be a healthy brood — many brood cells sealed and incubating larva, soon to be young bees!  The colony had not yet drawn comb on all of the frames, but the center ones were pretty covered in comb, and the yellow pollen color was apparent throughout.

May 23

We saw no evidence of foulbrood (identified by its foul odor) and no evidence of the varroa mite, two of the most common problems facing honeybees in Minnesota.  After the hive was closed and we took a lunch break, we returned for one last visit.  Sitting on the ground, just a few feet from the hive, I watched bees exit, hover in a circle just above the hive and then take off in a southwesterly direction.  I could also see others returning, and as they carefully landed and entered the hive, their rear legs were bulging yellow with pollen.  I couldn’t help but smile — what amazing little creatures!  I am in awe.

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Today’s visit to the apiary was a quickie.  Because the weather has been windy, cold and rainy, we were glad to have made the decision last week to keep the entrance reducer at its smallest opening, thus giving the bees more protection from the cold.  Although the sugar syrup bucket was nearly empty, we didn’t see a lot of activity outside the hive boxes.  The bees inside seemed to be quite active, but we didn’t disturb them by removing the inner cover… just peered into the feeder opening.  So, we filled the bucket with sugar syrup, watched a gorgeous sunset over the lake and scuttled back to the city.

One more thing… Sondra’s parents have been busy planting blueberry bushes near the apiary, and Sondra’s dad told us that a scout bee was circling around him while he was planting, stopped to read the blueberry sign near one of the plants, smiled at him and flew back to the hive to tell the others.  True story.  🙂

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Yesterday was my b-day, and today was a very happy bee day, indeed!  The colony has been left to their business for nearly a week, and we approached the hive with cautious optimism.  As soon as the hive cover was lifted, we could see evidence of honeycomb!  Workers were flying around the hive, heavy with pollen, and on examination of the frames, we were thrilled to see their progress with building comb, filling it with nectar & pollen… and, best of all, we spotted what appeared to be larva!  Great news, as this means the queen was accepted, and the colony is doing everything it should be doing.  I’ll let the photos tell the story; click to enlarge:

We leave them alone for another week.  🙂

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sunflower projectLooking for a way to help bees and other pollinators but can’t see yourself as a beekeeper?  Grow sunflowers and join this project:

The Great Sunflower Project

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Sondra’s report:

Well went to apiary and pulled the queen cage which was sill just covered in bees. A bee was inside. Don’t know if it was the queen or not. Sugar plug gone. In the process of cleaning the bees off the outside of the queen cage the bee inside (queen or not) also came out. That’s all good then and we’ll just have to wait a week or so and see if comb and brood develop. Good on sugar syrup for now. Didn’t smoke bees, wanna wait till they are settled more. Good formation inside. Bees that were out after opening hive were annoyed but they were at least using their bee entrance. I think they are calling it home. That’s all to report for now. I’m heading back to Mpls now.

Mistress Bee II, out.

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