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Bees!

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Larissa:
Those sound terrific!  I actually think goldenrod is gorgeous, and it's one of the best things for bees because it blooms in late summer and fall when they don't have much else around to eat.  Early spring and late summer/fall plants are in such short supply for the girls.

I've never tried fake syrup, unless they used it at IHOP when I was a kid.  In the supermarket the other day, I saw "Sugar Free Vermont Syrup."  It wasn't a lie, didn't say "maple" anywhere, but man it was made to LOOK like maple syrup instead of the chemicals from which it was really made.  Terrible.  I get irrationally angry when I see stuff like that.  It feels like such deceit, even when it's not actually a lie.

Larissa:
We've been having a heck of a time with the bees because of the wonky weather.  It got warm really early, so the queens in the established hives started laying eggs earlier than normal, building up the colonies' populations.  Normally, at that point we'd split hives to control swarming and increase the number of good, strong hives we have.  Well, we intended to do that, but then we had a cold snap which precluded us from opening the hives and disturbing them, and especially from taking any of their brood because it would freeze to death if we split it up.  So our hands were tied, and meanwhile the queens were still in there pumping out babies.  So as soon as it got warm, ALL of our biggest hives swarmed.  It's REALLY frustrating.  We caught a bunch of the swarms, so we were able to increase the number of hives anyway, but because it happened this way instead of with controlled splits, it's likely our honey production for this year took a big hit.

Meanwhile, we had 4 new hives in a friend's yard.  She was so excited; she grew up on a farm in Wisconsin and really wants to bring some farm life to her kids (9 year old twins).  Well, two nights in a row there were bear attacks, and three of those hives were destroyed.  We salvaged one, moved it to our yard, and gave it a new queen on Sunday since the queen had been killed in the melee.  Its' got a good population so we hope it pulls through.

Yesterday when Eric worked from home, he was able to inspect the 6 hives we have in a yard up the street.  The biggest one swarmed, so the population is lower and they have to make a new queen; we're hoping she hatches and mates well.  One that we were figuring for lost - it had no queen and a laying worker, which just kills off a hive because the worker can only lay drones and no females/workers/queens - suddenly made a queen and there's viable brood in there.  We have no idea how that happened!

The two nucs and swarm we housed there are doing really well.  And then there's a resource hive split we did that may need a queen, so we'll give them one tomorrow.

Stress with a capital STRESS!

Larissa:
So... two of the hives that were queenless after they swarmed made new queens.  We're ecstatic about that!  Five didn't, so for two of them that had good populations, we took eggs from another hive and put them in, in the hopes that now they'll requeen themselves successfully.  For the other three that were weaker, I'm picking up new queens for them tonight.  We still have two of the 20 to inspect, but they've got good population, so we've got a little time with them. 

What we did do over the weekend was move them about 20 feet from one location in the yard to another.  Those two aren't in our yard, they're in a friend's in town, and the way we had them, they defied logic and flew backwards over their hives, bothering our friends on their deck all last summer.  :/

So we moved them over to another part of their yard facing an entirely different direction.

Thought I'd add a photo; I've posted pix before of what the frames of honeycomb look like in our hives, but in one of the hives we inspected Sunday, we found that the bees apparently hated their wax foundation, so they ripped it out completely (just the one frame), and started building comb in a lamb's ear formation, the way they would do in the wild.  It's gorgeous, and just goes to show that bees will do what bees wanna do.  They don't read the same books we do.  :)

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