Testy Bees

May 1, 2010

I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the new hive. My husband and I went into the hive today to give them two frames of capped brood (eggs) from another hive. They were clearly agitated. When you’re in the hive and the bees are defensive, the pitch of the hum that you hear goes up. They will also fly at your face. Not that big of a deal if you’re veiled. In the last 24 hours, this colony has swarmed, been captured and re-hived. I don’t blame them for being defensive when we went back into their hive yet another time today. I know that I’m anthropomorpizing my bees- but they’ve got to be saying “Enough already!”.

In the back of our minds, though, we both have a nagging doubt about whether the queen is there or not. My husband captured them in the dark, and it’s possible that he didn’t get the queen, or that she got killed with the bee brush as he brushed them off the tree bark. When you have a functioning queen, your hive is said to be “queen-right”. One of the first things that a veteran beekeeper will ask you if you complain that your bees have gotten defensive is if your hive is queen-right. When the hive is not queen-right, the bees are more agitated and defensive than normal. Whether this colony was defensive today because we’ve messed with them a lot, or because they’re not queen-right remains to be seen. We’ll know in a week or two.

So, for now, I’ll keep the feeder full and leave them alone. We’ll go back into the hive in a week to ten days. If there’s worker brood, that means that we have a functioning queen. I’ll keep you posted.

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8 Responses to “Testy Bees”

  1. J Says:

    This is totally fascinating.

    I’d love to read a book about how all this bee stuff works–not so much how to be a beekeeper, but how the bees organize and do their thing. What would you recommend that is a fun, but educational read?

    Does your husband have a blog?

    • robinjohnsonsimpson Says:

      Most of the books that I’ve read have been geared toward beekeepers. They’re interesting, but somewhat technical. A fun, sort of snarky book about bees is Plan Bee by Susan Brackney. You should be able to get it at the library.

      My husband’s blog is in the works.

  2. Angela Says:

    Best of luck! It was great talking to you yesterday. We also have chickens in your yard(our third flock). I’ve been thinking about beekeeping for a few years and now am truly inspired. I just picked up a book on beekeeping. I’ll probably talk to you more at park day.

  3. robinjohnsonsimpson Says:

    Great talking with you, too! Let me know if I can support you in any way with beekeeping. Such a fun hobby!

  4. Jonathan Knisely Says:

    If you give them a frame with some newly laid eggs, they’ll be able to requeen themselves. Your plan on lookng for new brood is also an approach that’ll work.

    • robinjohnsonsimpson Says:

      Thanks so much for the great advice. I’ve only been keeping bees for a year, so I haven’t had to re-queen yet. Could I wait until next weekend to put another frame with eggs in (and see if there’s worker brood), or should I go ahead and do that? Thanks again for your help!

  5. susan Says:

    I find reading about beekeeping fascinating even though we keep bees, too. Capturing a swarm is always exciting. I hope your hive is queen-right. We lost one hive over the winter.

    • robinjohnsonsimpson Says:

      So sorry to hear that you lost a hive Do you know what happened to them? Where are your hives?


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