Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cell Block #9

I have just finished reading my favorite bee blog, "Bee Mans Daughter" (Father’s Day Blog). I suggest my readers (all four of them) read this blog. It is innovative, informative, entertaining, and also says nice things about me. You can’t beat that. (Did I mention the author is also my daughter?) Any way the blog is really good, although a fact check sometimes would be in order. As a new-bee, sometimes she doesn’t quite know her head from her hind-end. Here at the Bee Farm, we do not have a Father’s day because when you have a special daughter like we have, every day is Father’s day and Mother’s day. We are truly blessed. (I bet that doesn’t get edited out.) – a note from the editor: You would be correct.

As you know, we have been experimenting with queen rearing. For Bee Keepers, the ultimate high is seeing a beautiful brood pattern, especially knowing he or she grafted the larva, placed the cell in a breeding nuc, and ultimately placed the new queen in the hive. But it is just not as easy as it sounds; there are things like setting up the starter hives, breeding nucs, and watching the calendar (very important). A lot of hardware and bees are also required. You start to think you have done everything right and then you go in to get your new cells, cells that you checked two days earlier, to find them all torn down by a covert queen who either hatched early or came in to this hive by mistake and set up housekeeping. For a big operator, this would be no big deal. But for me, it shut down a third of my queen operations down do it twice and I have nothing to show for twenty days’ work. This makes a chicken rearing hobby look good (until you remember what you wife said about that. Chicken sh*t between your toes as a child can scar you for life apparently).

I am told virgin queens are hard to introduce to a hive, especially if you change races, like Russian to Italian. While in Byrdstown a while back cutting out cells, I cut two open and out came two virgins. I put then in queen cages I always carry in my pocket, took them home, marked them, and placed them in intro-queen cages. I now have two nucs with as good a brood pattern as I’ve seen. They are beautiful, dark Russians. I don't know if I’m good or just dumb enough to try anything (the latter most likely).

As I look up at my meticulously kept records, which consist of a bunch of yellow notes on my computer desk, I see I have a busy week at the end. On the 23rd, I need to take cells out at the home bee yard; on the 24th, I have to take cells out at Dwight's house in Rickman; on the 25th, I need to take cells out in White Co. and also at Moss yard. I’m looking forward to the White Co. cell take out; that is where some of our best survival queen mothers are located (they won’t die). I mistakenly placed a queen in the starter hive last graft and came up with zero cells. I checked the Byrdstown yard Friday and five out of eight nucs had new queens, however some looked a little motley. I'm sure they will improve; it was a bit early to assess.

I have one last thought to share with you today. As you know, I like to work with young people who are interested in bees. Last week while at Dwight's house grafting queens, his daughter Jessica lent a hand. She shows great promise in the grafting field, if for no other reason she can see.

Happy trails!