Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Bee Arrival: Take 2

About a month ago a nuc was introduced into our apiary.  The first 2 weeks we saw a lot of activity outside the hive and a lot of pollen being brought in.  That activity quickly diminished so I decided to open the hive and take a look.  When I removed the vivaldi board, this is what I saw.  This isn't a good sign because there should be bees on top of the frames.

When I pulled a frame, this is what I saw.  There was no question about it...the hive was queenless.  Not only was the spotty brood pattern a dead giveaway, but there were several small uncapped supercedure cells and most of the capped brood were large, indicating drone cells.  Surprisingly there were a lot of bees so I think the queen has only been gone for a short time.  There weren't any eggs in the cells, only a few larvae and the capped drone cells.

Without hesitation, I called up the beekeeper I purchased the nuc from.  He had no problem swapping my queenless nuc for one of his working nucs.  I remembered my camera this time and took a picture of his apiary.  I really like the colorful hives!

I really like this beekeeper's way of making nucs.  He takes a regular brood box and divides it in half and keeps two separate colonies in the same box.  There is a divider down the middle separating the frames and entrances.  To feed the nucs, he uses mason jars with holes in the lids that he inverts over a piece of plywood with a hole covered with a screen.  He even paints the box in two different colors.  It looks like a really simple design that I may replicate someday when I have a large apiary.

Here is one of the frames he gave me for my new nuc.  The brood looks a bit spotty to me, but I was told that this pattern is characteristic of the VSH (Varroa Sensitive Hygiene) gene.  I had never heard of this, but apparently it's a hygenic trait that helps increase the level of resistance to pests and diseases.  In a hive with the VSH trait, you will find spotty brood because the bees eliminate any brood that may show a defect or mite.  They have been known to detect mites on capped bee larva and they chew through the wax covering and eliminate the larvae before it even has a chance to hatch.  So even though the queen is laying eggs correctly in every cell, the other bees are removing bees which makes the pattern very spotty.  I was also told that over time, as the queen ages, the spotty brood pattern will decrease.  I don't know if this is all a fact, but irregardless, this is the colony I have for now and we hope it lasts through the winter now that the nectar flow is for the most part over for the summer.  Right now our goals are to get more comb drawn and make it through the winter.  Definitely no excess honey this year. 

I managed to get a picture of the queen in my new hive.  She is a bit smaller than we prefer. 

Jon snapped a picture while I was introducing the new nuc into our hive.


Christopher Beeson June 11, 2012 at 7:36 AM  

I'm glad the supplier was kind enough to replace your nuc. It sounds like you've got a great resource nearby, and presumably a great population of drones flying around incase you ever need to mate a new queen!

I wonder what sort of end-of-summer/fall honey plants are available around your new home?

Holly June 11, 2012 at 10:05 AM  

Yes, we are happy that the supplier was kind enough to replace the nuc. His apiary is only 3 miles away so the location is very close too! I'm wondering what nectar sources we will have in the fall too! In the meantime, there is a lot of clover. Jon waits until the last possible moment to mow the grass so the clover can be around longer.

Phoebe June 11, 2012 at 10:27 AM  

I'm glad you caught the problem early. I wonder what happened to the old queen? Maybe a transport injury?

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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