The sun is shining, the grass has riz, oh what a wonderful day it is!  After one of the wettest and dreariest Mays on record, we are finally experiencing some of the famed Colorado sunshine again.  I got 6.4″ of rain for the month of May and we didn’t hit 80 until May 31.  The ground was so wet that I couldn’t put my summer vegetables in until last weekend.  But all the moisture has really perked up the vegetation.  We’ve been enjoying beautiful peonies and irises for the past couple of weeks.

Red peonies in front of BnB2

Heirloom red peony that bloomed for the first time in 3 years

I love irises – they are easy to care for, produce beautiful blooms and have nice greenery for the rest of the year.  I reworked one of my beds a couple of years ago and this year it really produced.

Iris bed in full bloom

Iris bed in full bloom

cut irises

Cut irises for the dining room

I love walking into our dining room each morning and getting a whiff of the fragrant irises.  Okay, but this is a bee blog – what’s happening with the bees?

BnB2 has continued to perplex me.  It has almost every bar with drawn comb and I’ve been afraid that it was going to swarm.   I can see queen cups through the window, but every time I do an inspection, that’s all they are – empty queen cups which to me means they aren’t getting ready to swarm.  The queen has been pretty productive.  I want to do a split – moving the queen and some brood to a new hive – and move it to our neigbhors’ yard.  They have 4 young children – 3 girls and a boy, so I made a pink and blue hive.

Hello Kitty (HK1) hive

Hello Kitty (HK1) hive

Diana was recently in Japan and she said there are all kinds of variations of Hello Kitty over there, so I searched the Google and found a nice bee-themed one.  I didn’t want to leave the boy out, so I found a storm trooper Hello Kitty for the hive as well.  He turned the utility belt into honey pots – very creative!

I was all set to do the split on Saturday, but when I went into the hive, I couldn’t find the queen.  Also, there were no eggs in the queen cups like I was hoping, so BnB2 could raise a new queen.  They could make a queen from another egg, but I’ve heard that it’s better to get a queen that was destined for that rather than an emergency queen.  There was also not as much brood in the hive as I expected, so I don’t think they are going to swarm any time soon.  I might get a local, already mated queen and do the split in a couple of weeks if they don’t make their own.  That would be less time before the colony could build itself up rather than waiting for a queen to hatch, take her mating flight and then get down to business.

BnB1 is coming along nicely with it’s new colony.  I had a scare a couple of weeks ago.  With all the rain, they hadn’t been taking much of the sugar water I had for them and all the moisture was causing mold to grow on the bars in the back of the hive.  During an inspection, I pulled out one of the 2 jars of sugar water and noticed that it had fermented.  I refilled the other one and put it back.  Overall, the bees seemed pretty happy – the queen was laying and the workers were building comb and bringing in pollen.  However, that afternoon, I noticed a lot of bees clustered outside the entrance and also noticed that they had been pooping on the landing board which is not normal.

clustering bees

Clustering bees and poop stains on the landing board

A friend of mine had similar clustering recently and we suspected that was due to the bees getting into some pesticide-laced forage.  She lost a bunch of bees and I thought I was going to suffer the same fate.  The next morning, there were only a few dead bees in front of BnB1 and the rest of the colony was going about it’s business.  So I’m thinking that they might have gotten dysentery from the fermented sugar water.  I just checked yesterday and they seem to be doing well.  I found the queen on one of the new combs.

queen bee

It’s good to be the queen

You can see that she has smaller wings and a fat abdomen compared to the other bees.

Sarah’s bees are also doing well.  They are building out comb and the queen is laying nicely.  We’ll do an inspection tomorrow and rearrange some of the combs to make sure they keep making them straight.  Both Sarah’s bees and BnB1 have been sucking down sugar water the past week – BnB1 has been drinking up to a quart a day.  Whatever they have now is all I’m giving them.  I feed new packages for a few weeks so they can build up comb, but now it’s time for them to make use of the abundant resources that the rains have provided.

Buddha and the bees and flowers

Buddha and the bees and flowers

The bee yard is really blossoming right now.  I was talking to our neighbor and she was remarking how much it has filled in since the first year.  Poor Buddha is almost hidden by the clover and salvia, but I hope he enjoys the view.




Julie · June 5, 2015 at 12:18 am

Oh my goodness! I love this post! Your garden is gorgeous — and those irises! Just spectacular! And your hives — The blue one has such sweet flowers on it, and that Hello Kitty hive is to die for! If I didn’t already have a theme going on, I’d have to make one of my own.

Interesting about BnB2. I’ve found that brood production starts to slow down when they’re preparing to swarm because as brood emerges, the newly vacant cell gets filled with nectar instead of a new egg. Have you noticed any backfilling or combs that are completely packed with pollen. Even more than queen cups, those are my early indicators that swarm cells are in the near future.

Maybe because of all your rain they haven’t had a chance to gather enough resources yet. I’m sure they’ll get swarmy soon enough.

Btw — didn’t you mention that you were going to build a hive with side entrances? have you had a chance to use it yet? Or is that the Hello Kitty hive? was wondering how they compare and which you prefer.

    Don · June 5, 2015 at 3:04 am

    When I checked a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a lot of backfilling of the combs near the entrance. I kept finding the queen way in the back where she seemed to be laying (bar 18). Come to think of it, I did notice that they were filling in the newly vacant cells with nectar. I guess I’ll have to keep a closer eye on it. Still a week later, all I have is cups – no queen cells. I’ll probably check again this weekend.

    HK1 is the one with side entrances (on the other side from the picture). Sarah’s hive is also a side entrance hive (same design for both). So far so good – I have 2 of the holes open on her hive now. I notice that they are building big combs further back from the entrances, but that is also closer to the one full comb I put in there originally.

Julie · June 30, 2015 at 2:20 pm

I was looking at your Hello Kitty hive again (which is super sweet). I thought you’d painted it on, but this time I noticed screws or pins in the corners. Just curious — how did you “art it up”? Did you print out the image? How did you weatherproof it? Thanks!

    Don · June 30, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Initially, I was going to use a printed out image as a stencil, but given my artistic talents, that wasn’t going to work. And things are just too busy with the kids next door, so having them do that wasn’t in the cards either. In the picture, it’s just the printou thumbtacked on while I was doing the construction. What we decided to do is to laminate the printouts that the kids had painted and then thumbtack those on. That way, if HK ever goes out of style, we can switch it out with the next new fad! 😉 (Although my wife just went to Japan and she doesn’t see that HK is going away any time soon!) I’m jealous of the skills you and your kids have at painting your hives.

      Julie · June 30, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Thanks! Truthfully, I’m working on a new nuc, and I don’t know if I’m feeling up to painting flame spurts, lightning sand, or rodents of unusual size. Lamination sounds awesome, though. I can do that!

        Don · June 30, 2015 at 2:41 pm

        Those would be so cool! Maybe a 6 fingered hand somewhere off in the corner to add a bit of mystery!

          Julie · June 30, 2015 at 11:50 pm

          LOL! Just finished painting and setting up the nuc. Wish I’d read your reply first, though. A six-fingered hand would’ve been brilliant!

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