Thursday, April 17, 2014

What you might Find in the BeeHive


You have set up your hives and installed your bees with the queen cage attached to a frame. We know that you are eager to check on them to see how they are doing but disrupting the colony will hinder them. Give them time to acclimate to the new queen and release her on their own (will typically take 5 to 7 days). Once you have given them time to release the queen on their own, you can open up your hive and see your bees hard at work!



When you first open your hive to remove the queen cage, you may notice no substantial changes, but your bees are working frantically to draw out comb, allowing space for the queen to lay her eggs and room to store their nectar. There will be some foraging bees sent out to bring in nectar and pollen but the majority of the force will be building up the frames. Providing feed during this time is vital. As the bees work the frames, they will be consuming feed almost as fast as you are providing it for them. Keep the feeder on the hive!
Other things to be aware of:


 Don’t be frightened to find that your colony seems smaller then when you installed it. This is a new colony and it will take them time before they will grow in population. The population will begin to decrease before it starts increasing because the newly laid eggs must be raised out to replace the older bees.





As the bees begin to work the frames, drawing out foundation, they may draw out a queen cup. There is no reason to fret. A queen cup does not mean your hive is queen-less, but is a precautionary measure your worker bees take to ensure they can raise a new queen quickly if something were to happen with the current queen. A queen cup is a single cup which is located in the middle of the frame. It should not have an egg or larva inside.





When you begin working your hive, your first instincts are to look for the queen. The queen is one of thousands of bees throughout the hive. Although she is much larger than the worker bee, she will be extremely hard if not impossible to find. An alternative is to check the frames for eggs. Eggs signify that the queen has been released and is laying. Eggs are also difficult to see (less difficult than finding the queen) but they appear as small white kernels that are similar to rice.


You will tend to see other insects in your hive that you would not expect. Most hide out on the inner cover, away from the colony. These can include earwigs, spiders, roaches, and many more. These common insects do not cause any damage and tend to stay for the heat, dark and shelter of the hive. There are some insects that can cause damage within the hive. These would include the small hive beetle and wax moth. They will lay their eggs in the hive and can destroy comb. The wax moth is more of a concern in late fall when equipment is being stored. Small hive beetle is a year round problem that can be maintained. A strong colony will keep a check on the hive beetle but if there population begins to rise, insert a beetle trap into your hive.


After installing your bees, you will place frames back into your hive. Inevitably one or two frames will be spaced too far apart, leaving room for the bees to draw out excess amounts of comb. You can leave the burr comb in the hive and the queen will lay eggs or workers will store honey in the cells, but the burr comb will limit what can be worked on adjacent frames. For the best results within the hive, remove the burr comb and take the time to space out your frames evenly. Burr Comb can be melted down and used in candle or lip balms.




Installing your package is just one of the first steps into this exciting hobby. Once your queen has been released and starts laying eggs, you will begin to see a large field force in your garden, buzzing from flower to flower.