This weekend my yoga teacher, the fabulous Phyllis Rollins of 8th Street Studio, paid me a visit. Phyllis opened the first yoga studio in Charlotte, and its only Iyengar yoga studio. Her visit to T's Bees felt like the first real day of spring, though we were 18 days beyond the solstice. We started by suiting up, she in my 1st-year bee suit and veil. I've adopted a simple white shirt and cargo pants for my "bee suit".
Then there was the lesson of how to tie your veil.
Phyllis is all set and ready to go! She seemd excited for her first apiary experience. :-)
Phyllis brought her Tibetan singing bowl, and Yvonne broke ours out. Together we sent T's Bees good vibrations. Know what? It worked great! The overly defensive Boris and its split were much back to their "happy" Russian selves. I've learned that the Russian version of happy is a bit less than other strains of bees. They have a shorter fuse and will really let you know when they're upset. The singing bowls and Phyllis' om-ing got us off to a nice, calm spring start.
We went in with specific goals. That's the first rule of beekeeping ... at least in my apiary. It was to check on the Boris split and donor colony to see which one had the old queen in it and if the split was making a new one. I also wanted to check in on one of the splits and parent colony of hive Peabody, hive Natasha and general bee traffic in my queen castle. The singing bowls made us all more focused and relaxed. Phyllis bowled away as I started in.
It was a very successful day. Phyllis spotted the beautiful amber queen from the parent colony of hive Peabody, and handled her first frame of bees. Propolis is really coming in. We saw a good bit of bee bread in the frames of Peabody, Natasha, Boris and the splits. There was backfilling of the brood nests with nectar and they're beginning to cap honey. I reversed hives Bullwinkle and Natasha. I finally saw some eggs in Natasha. I saw no eggs nor a queen in Boris nor its split, which was worrisome. Then again, Russian bees build up much later, and much faster, in the spring than other bees. I also realized later I was standing with my frame only partially exposed to the sun (doh!), which makes it harder to see the eggs. With all of the heavy traffic in both Boris and its split, I know she's in there somewhere. I saw the beginning of what I thought was an emergency queen cell in the donor Boris colony. I dismissed it as a large drone cell, because it was at the bottom of the frame. Now I'm thinking that's the queen cell simply because eggs were on the bottom of the frame when I made the split. I'll keep a watchful eye on Boris, as this may be one of my biggest honey producers this year as it was last year. At some point I'll requeen with the 2013 queen and combine the split back into the parent colony. Time will tell.
Traffic at the queen castle was BUSY! Bees were coming and going from all four entrances. YESSS! And my other two nucs also had plenty of traffic. Chamber 3 was the busiest, but chamber 2 wasn't far behind. They were the first of the spring splits, from hive Sherman. All signs are very positive at this point. Those queens should have either emerged yesterday, April 8, or today. Last week I saw queen cells in both chambers. After emergence, there'll be a few days of hardening off, mating flights and laying. While I was at it, I added a frame of nurse bees and brood to hive Peabody. The queen was alive and doing well, and they appreciated the boost in bees. My fears of a couple of cold nights and too few bees in Peabody were put to rest. Feeding with 1:1 syrup and closing up the screened bottom board (my homemade board, and it closed up wonderfully, thank you very much) was key, as none of the bees were foragers when I made the artificial swarm after splitting Peabody. An artificial swarm is when you move the old queen and some bees to a new location with much fewer bees. All in all, Saturday was a completely successful day. Om-ing in the early, glorious spring of 2013 was a wonderful experience, and an amazing way to celebrate the beauty and wonder of nature. I'm glad I could share it with my yoga teacher. :-)
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Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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