Building her Kingdom

Early spring is an exciting time in a hive. The queen should be busy laying, increasing her numbers greatly. The bees have so many flowering plants to forage on the nectar and pollen are coming in quickly!

We installed our packages 19 days ago. We’ve checked them 3 times in that window, keeping fresh sugar water on them so they’re well fed. We had a cool start to the season, and they didn’t take off right away, but the warmth came out last week! Now both of our hives are busy.

The first time we checked the hives, 6 days after we installed the packages, we didn’t see any eggs or young larvae. We confirmed both queens were out the cages, but didn’t see signs she was actively laying. Remember, you don’t have to see the queen to know she’s there! Seeing fresh eggs or larvae developing indicates she’s doing her job. Also, seeing chaining indicates the bees are working as a strong team and therefore have a queen.

Today, we went into the hives for a final dose of antibiotics for American foulbrood protection and to check their progress. They’re both doing great! We saw eggs, larvae of all ages, and capped brood in both hives. The queens are both laying machines and we anticipate needing a second story in a week or 10-days. It’s wonderful to see productive queens!

And the bees are appreciating the warm days as they’re getting out of the hive to forage, collecting both nectar and pollen. We observed a beeline (LOL) of workers coming in with pollen in many shades! There was lots of light buttery white pollen all the way through shades of yellow and orange.

It is good timing to treat the hives for varroa mites. These mites can be controlled with numerous commercial products, but it’s important to read, understand, and follow the label. We choose to use a product that needs to be on in a time when there are no honey supers present. So now is great timing!

Additionally, last year we saw the first small hive beetles. Currently, I am working to learn about these little creatures and formulate a plan for management. We started the year with some homemade traps (I’ll share this design in a future blog) and have confirmed the presence of the little buggers. Beekeeping is a changing experience! Until last year, we didn’t see them in our hives and now we’re forced to learn about something new.

For this week, we’ll continue feeding and check back to confirm timing for that second story.