Today I got to check out my bees and show them to my niece and nephews. My niece was a little scared ad first, but she was courageous and brave and got real close to see the bees working in the hive. She felt safe, wearing the veil. We saw brood in the larva and pupa stages, some pollen, and lots of honey. We even got to taste a little honey. Here is a letter my nephew wrote me after seeing all the bees. He wanted me to fill in the blanks like a worksheet.
Today I met with Cathy, another new beekeeper, to help remove a colony of bees from a house. Our mentor Sonny taught us what to do when moving bees from a naturally built hive to your own hive. Cathy had heard about these bees from a friend and offered to remove them for free. She got to keep the bees, and the owner paid for any repairs needed to the home when we were finished. Click on any of the photos to make them larger.
The first step is to find the bees. They were coming out of the door frame with lots of pollen. The more pollen bees bring in the more babies there are. We went down to the basement to see if we could find them there. Cathy and Sonny decided to cut through the ceiling to find them.
The next step is getting them out. We cut out the comb with a small knife and sucked up some bees with a special vacuum. In the photo below, Cathy and Sonny are setting up the vacuum. The hose is attached to a box for the bees. There is a smaller screened box inside the one with the three small holes. To get the right amount of suction we can cover one of the holes up to change the pressure. This is important so we don't harm the bees.
When we have cut off a portion of the comb we must tie it to a frame. Beekeepers use frames to hold honeycomb so it is easier to check, maintain, and extract the honey. After the comb is tied in we put it in the first box of our Langstroth hive. Sonny and Cathy decided to split the hive so Cathy took the comb and frames and Sonny took the bees that were vacuumed up. Cathy left the Langstroth hive, with the frames of comb, near the entrance of the old hive spot so that the worker bees would find their new home when they came back from foraging. A day or so later Cathy came back to take her hive home. Sonny was able to take his bees home the same day in the special screened vacuum box.
When I am teaching kids about being a scientist, I always focus on observations. Scientists make discoveries by using all five of their senses. As a beekeeper I have made many discoveries just by watching the bees, listening to their buzzing, tasting honey, and feeling the hive. I have learned a lot from other beekeepers, but I try to take time each week to learn from the bees. Every week when I check on my bees, I look at the frames to see what their building or storing up. Sometimes I get a chance to taste the honey and I'm always listening to make sure my bees are happily buzzing around. I can tell when my bees are upset when they start buzzing loudly. I can feel the warmth of the busy hive. When you want to learn about something, and really figure it out, you have to make observations. I have a little log book I carry with me so I can write down my observations. If I know how long it took the bees to build something I can estimate when I need to add another box to give them more room to grow. There is a lot to remember so it's nice to have my log book. Here is a photo of my last
For starters, what is brood? Brood is a word to describe the egg, larva, and pupa stages of an insects life. In these stages the insect doesn't really look like an insect with 6 legs and 3 body segments (head, thorax, and abdomen). In this photo below, you can see two stages of brood. Near the bottom right you can see small white specks. They may look like rice, but they are really eggs. As they grow they start to turn and curl. That is when they become larva. Larva look like small white or cream colored worms. You can see some larva to the left in the photo.
When the larva grows large enough to fill the cell it is ready for the pupa stage. The cell is capped and the brood begins to develop into the shape and eventually the color of a bee. In the Pupa stage the brood develops 6 legs, the head, thorax, and abdomen. In this photo you can see the larva growing to fill the cell and you can all see the capped cells. Both photos were taken by David Solovey. Thanks for the great shots.
Staring at the dancing bees in an observation hive, it hits me. I love how these tiny creatures communicate. It looks like they're having fun dancing around while telling their sisters where to find some nectar.
Amanda's Sting Count
2013- 6 stings