Here’s Your New Home, Bees

We saw the queen recently. She wasn’t wearing a crown. She was sporting a big blue dot on her thorax though.

The Cheshire Beekeepers’ Association, founded in 1899, has great information about queen marking on its website. The queen is much easier to locate in the hive when marked.

Queen records are easily kept. Most importantly, marking the queen indicates to the beekeeper that she has not been replaced.

A good mnemonic to remember for beekeepers is Be Warned You Require Gloves. Blue (2015); white (2016); yellow (2017); red (2018); green (2019). So our queen with her blue dot was born in 2015. If the hive remains healthy the queen can live up to five years.

The Cheshire Beekeepers’ Association had its inaugural meeting on the 20th of February, 1899. It has active members still in 2016.

Bees have interested humans for over 5,000 years. Honey was the only sweetener prior to cultivation of cane and beet sugars.

Before the advent of modern moveable hives, bees were kept in straw skeps. Space for bees could be enlarged by adding an extra chamber termed an “eke.” I am sure we all use the term “to eke out”– a living, perhaps. That phrase developed in old English by the beekeeping culture.

Most beekeepers were interested in honey production. In earlier times monks became experts for the wax produced. Beeswax candles are superior to candles made from tallow.

Our first hive arrived on June 1, 2016 from Bob Fisher (Westcoast Bee Supply Ltd.) in B.C. It was a warm day so my husband Roger put the box in the cool dark basement for the afternoon and early evening. Just before bed, Roger transferred the bees from their luggage box to the outside hive. If the bees are put outside in the afternoon, they may fly away from the hive and get lost.

We gave the bees sugar water for the first week or so.

Don Mark visited us last week. The official hive inspection took place. Don and Roger were looking for evidence of eggs. Yes, the queen is laying. They found larvae; probably about three days old.

They inspected the cap brood. The cap brood is the sealed over larvae developing into baby bees. Holes in the cap brood indicate disease. Don and Roger were happy with the drawing out (or building) of comb which is used for egg laying. No mites, no disease, calmness in the hive.

Roger was at Air North Cargo on June 20th with 10 other beekeepers to welcome 19 nucs. These bees are from Debbee’s Bees, from Ontario. Within these nucs queens travelled in small containers closed with a sugar plug and tape. On day three Roger will remove the tape. The bees will eat the sugar to release the queen on day four.

Peter McPeake came along to watch us transfer the bees to their Yukon hives. Another long time beekeeper, he was impressed with the quality of Debbee’s bees.

Roger is still busy building hive components. He is making his own foundation frames. Well, he purchased the foundation (plastic sheet) but is creating the wooden frames. Foundation frames are added to boxes on the hive as it strengthens. Foundation frames are used by the bees for honeycomb production and brood building.

Our flower gardens are beautiful this year. We planted some flowers especially for the bees! It is exciting for me to watch and document this new adventure at our country home.

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