July 5, 2010

Of course, the day I decide not to bring out the camera to the bee yard I get stung three times in my hand. Well, I did have gloves on and THANKFULLY the stingers didn't penetrate the goatskin or else I'd be in misery right now.

I'm not sure if my bees weren't in the mood for me before I arrived or just vice versa but neither of us are in the greatest moods today (maybe they sensed that about me when I opened the hive and reciprocated in kind.

This was the first time I experienced cranky bees. Usually they are happy just flying about but today they were GROUCHY and buzzing so loudly it sounded like a massive army marching ahead. They targeted me and avoided the hubby, swooping around my head in a rapid motion and their buzz wasn't that lulling hummm I usually hear, more of a "I'm going to kill you unless you retreat immediately" sound.

There were several casualties... one was a bee on the top of the frames. She looked as if someone ripped her wings off as she rolled around kicking. I suppose she could have been one of my assailants since it was clear she was dying. I only saw one of my attackers, still stuck in my glove trying to pull itself free. I flicked her off quickly and removed the stinger (smoke smoke smoke to avoid pheromones blowing about). It was too late, I'd missed two prior stings and the girls were arleady in attack mode by the time I'd been stung I noticed the third sting.

Again, I was distracted by the fact things didn't go according to the book, or should I say, according to University of Minnesota instructions. Eleven days ago I added the third hive body with one full frame of drawn comb and bees. I inspected today to make sure the queen had moved up and was laying eggs but unfortunately I found no queen and absolutely NO BROOD! So for now, I'm at a loss. Did the queen get killed somehow? Is she still working in the 2nd hive body and just hasn't moved up. Right now I have 2 full frames of honey in the third hive body, so the other bees have moved up easily and are working but somewhere, somehow, the queen is left behind :( I have no clue what to do?
TeresaR said...

Oh my goodness...I hope you're ok! I also hope your apiarist friends will be able to give you some good answers. No queen is not good!

Jim said...

Must be the weather--one of mine came out after me when I was just out looking from a distance. She buzzed my head while I swiped at her and she finally left me alone. Don't know what provoked that.
Did you only examine the new 3rd hive body? The queen won't necessarily venture up there. Mine stays pretty much in the bottom two (of 3 mediums), with just a honey supply in the third hive body. It was very heavy in the fall, I would guess 50 lbs. or better. So no brood in the top would not be unexpected. If she has died, which would be unlikely but not impossible, that could explain their aggressive nature. Did you smoke them before opening and proceed in the same manner as other times?

Michelle said...

T, my beekeeping mentor is out of town and won't be around for a while :( I'm hoping he can come and look soon though.


The weather was pretty awful the day I checked the bees. Cloudy, humid and rain was in the forecast. I'm hoping (crossing fingers) that you are right about the weather being the cause of their ire and not a dead queen. I did smoke them and it seemed like the moment the smoke hit they went on the defensive.

I did only examine the 3rd hive body. You and my beek mentor say the exact same thing about the 3rd deep being only for honey and not brood. It is mostly cloudy today but when it is sunny and warm I'm going to remove the 3rd hive body and try rotating the bottom two (putting 2 in ones place and vice versa) plus moving undrawn comb in and in the 3rd deep moving the honey frames to the outside and the undrawn ones in. Does that sound like a good plan?

Jim said...

I think taking a look at the bottom two is ok, but maybe not reversing at this time. You could look to see if there are enough frames in which brood is being placed, in other words making sure they don't have too much honey in the bottom so there is enough room for the queen to lay eggs. My guess is things are just fine. If things look good, just let the queen do her thing the way she has been. Looks like they are multiplying just fine.

Sam Smith said...

I would check the bottom box for brood, watch for queen cells, you posted about a queen cell on june 17th this might mean your hive swarmed and you now have a virgin queen somewhere in the hive. What you need to see to be sure is an uncaped queen cell. if your queen emerged on june 17th then she would be laying eggs on june 29th (12 days after emerging) its hard to say since you don't know the age of that qc.