Back in Action

20 Apr

It is finally spring time and I have decided to give beekeeping another go. Since I have all of the parts of the hive, all we really needed were the bees. I was lucky enough to get a package of bees from the NYC Beekeeping Meetup Group.  A bee package is a shoebox size of about 10,000. The box has wire sides so that the bees can get air and water. The package also has a queen in a smaller box of her own, similar to the one I got last year.

Bee Packages

Bee Packages

The NYC Beekeeping group drove down to Georgia to pick up the bees and made it back to Brooklyn by Wednesday morning. Luckily Mike and I were around to pick up the package on Wednesday evening. The pickup spot is in this old run down building on Flatbush Ave, the same one where the pollen deal took place last year. When we arrived I was asked to measure out 50 grams of pollen in little baggies while I waited for my package.

Weighing pollen

Weighing pollen

50 grams of pollen

50 grams of pollen

I took the bee box home and put it in the basement since I couldn’t install it until Thursday after work. I sprayed the girls with some water so that they stayed hydrated until the release party. I am very excited to have something to take care of again and a reason to spend time outside.

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Postpartum

15 Aug

It has been very strange not having to check up on the bees everyday. In some ways it has been a bit of a relief for me. I recently quit my job to take a new one in a different industry. It has been very demanding so far and has definitely limited my capacity to think about many things outside of working, eating (which I do too much of), and sleeping (which I don’t do enough). I’m also in the middle of taking a macroeconomics class as part of the MBA program I am in. Summer session is very intense because it is a semester’s worth of material crammed into a month.
Meanwhile, Mike and I are still trying to maintain our 30 gallon fish tank and keep our cat Mooch from slipping out the alley door every time we open it. We’ve gone from 12 to 4 fish in the few months we’ve had the tank. The ph and ammonia levels have been way off the charts so Mike cleans it our frequently. While I was doing laundry this week, Mooch followed me out, went upstairs and was found on the deck a half hour later. So while I am very disappointed that I failed as a beekeeping this year, I think it probably wasn’t meant to bee.

Sad Face

12 Aug

This happened over a week ago but I haven’t be able to bring myself to blog about it. Mike and I checked the hive the other night to find it completely empty. No a single bee was left. No honey either. It seems like the bees have absconded from the hive. They do that when they don’t think the hive is a fit place to live. I don’t blame them really with the beetles, the robbing, and the heat wave we had in Brooklyn. The new queen probably was released from her cage and then told everyone to pack their bags, they were hitting the road. They uncapped all of the honey so they could take it and now the bottom of the hive is filled with wax. I think the last time we suspected robbing was just the hive in the middle of moving.
So if you come across a wild honey bee hive, it probably use to belong to me. I hope wherever they are, they make it. Maybe next year we will start over but the thought of it now is too sad.

Just when things couldn’t get worse

3 Aug

We are unsure of the state of our hive at this point. There seems to be very little activity in and our of the hive. Flies and wasps have no problem hanging out my the entrance. Some bees hover around the hive. I am nervous about what we will find or more to the point, what we don’t find when we open the hive this week. And just when I think things couldn’t get worse, I read that Prospect Park and some areas around it are being sprayed with pesticides to kill mosquitoes. The problem is that it probably will negatively affect the bees. I never knew how hard my bees would have to fight to stay alive.

A Pollen Deal

29 Jul

Before there was another assault on the hive, I was concerned that there wasn’t going to be enough pollen for the bees to raise the new brood. Our new queen, Natasha, is a russian and I read that those kind of bees needs more pollen to feed their brood. I also had seen on someone else’s bee blog that he was feeding his weaker hive some pollen.
I checked the beekeeper supply stores like betterbee.com but the pollen was expensive and would take a while to get here. I also found some threads written on Bee Source about making pollen patties. I contacted Jim Fischer, who I met at a bee meeting, asking him what he knew about feeding the bees pollen. He generously said that if I was around tonight, he would be in Brooklyn and could toss me a “dime bag” of pollen supplement so that I could make me some pollen patties. I know, this whole thing gets funnier and funnier.
So on Wednesday night, Mike and I hoped in the car at 9:30 to meet a man on a the Flatbush Ave. to get a bag of pollen. I “paid” him with one of the cucumbers that has grown in Deb’s garden. He was with another member of the NYC Beekeepers Meetup group who offered encouraging words. Their next event is on Monday but sadly, I can’t go because I have class.

Pollen supplement

Along with the pollen supplement, Jim gave us a small patty to get started and told us that it would last a week. We’ll see where this all goes.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another

27 Jul

Mike and I were suppose to go into the hive yesterday to make sure that Queen Natasha was released from her cage. But of course, there was a problem. Our hive was under attack, again. And this time was the worst I’ve seen. I couldn’t get very close to the hive because there were hundred of bees hovering around it. I have no idea what started the robbing this time since we haven’t opened the hive in days. There were tumbles of bees flying out the entrance. Thankfully we have the entrance closed up so that there is only a small space to defend. Mike and I covered the hive again with a sheet to hopefully discourage robbers from getting in. I think that if it hasn’t calmed down after work I will wait until it gets dark to check on Natasha. I hope Mike can find his head lamp.

Crowning of the New Queen

25 Jul

The day after we put our old queen in the freezer, Mike and I introduced our new queen. As per the suggestion of Jim Fisher, I ordered a New Carniolan queen, AKA a Russian. Previously we had an Italian queen so this will be a completely new kind of dynasty. I’ve decided to name our new queen Natasha.

Early morning queen introduction

Mike and I smoked the hive and went back to the same place that we found our old queen. We watched an amateur but helpful youtube video about introducing a queen. Basically the worker bees can react two different ways. They can accept her and try to feed her or reject her and try to sting her.

Inserting the new queen

It was pretty apparent that our bees like Natasha because many of them were trying to feed her. Hopefully they will eat the sugar candy and release her into the hive so that she can get to work soon. We need more bees!

Checking her out

Workers feeding Queen Natasha

In a few days we will go back in to see if Natasha was released and remove the cage she came in. Then we have to wait at least a week to before we do a full hive inspection. The suspense might kill me.