Want to know how to piss off your bees?

We’ll answer that in just a few moments.

House of Tudor

But first, you should look at this beautiful picture taken of a frame in the House of Tudor during our inspection today. Brand new comb. Freshly laid eggs. The first thing this comb will every be used for is growing life.

Look at how white the brand new comb is and contained within, beautiful little white freshly-laid eggs.

Also in the House of Tudor where one or two trapped and drowned hive beetles in the beetle jails we installed two weeks ago. Every last drop of sugar syrup had been eaten too!

House of Hanover

As we were inspecting Hanover, we found out the answer to the question “how do you piss off bees?” Those simple beetle jails that clip onto the top of a frame might seem idiot proof, but that, alas, is not the case. Somehow – we don’t know how – we flipped one off a frame and onto its side, spilling the mineral oil and vinegar content between two frames, filled with girls gorging on honey.

This didn’t make the bees too happy. Bees poured out of the hive, angrily buzzing around, gathering on the front of the hives. There must have been about half of the hive gathered on the front.

The beekeepers weren’t so happy either. Particularly once we discovered that the smoke no longer calmed them. Especially once Fi was stung through her glove on one of her cuticles. Extra especially at the thought of killing any bees and damaging precious comb and its contents.

We cleaned up what we could of the oil and vinegar, and closed up the hive as quickly as possible. We checked back a little while later, and about half of the bees had made it back into the hive. By the evening, it looked normal again.

Edit: As of tonight, 5 days later, the House of Hanover is its usual calm self. Since there was almost no comb building in the second super, we took 3 full frames from the bottom super and swapped it out for 3 empty frames from the top super.

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All Hail Queen Victoria!

Earlier in the week, we did a quick inspection to see how the ziplock bags were working out for the sugar syrup. Unfortunately, they were still fermenting in the hot sun, as well as pooling resulting in more drowned bees. We, of course, did research…

We decided to make our own honey-b-healthy (HBH) using the following recipe:

5 cups water 
2 ½ pounds of sugar 
1/8 teaspoon lecithin granules (used as an emulsifier) 
15 drops spearmint oil 
15 drops lemongrass oil 
Bring the water to a boil and integrate the sugar until dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved remove the mixture from the heat and quickly add the lecithin and the essential oils. Stir until everything is evenly distributed. This solution should have a strong scent and not be left open around bees. Cool before using.

This not only makes the sugar syrup super attractive to bees, but gives the bees added nutrients, encourages comb building, and stops the syrup from fermenting. What we only realized after we made double the quantity above that it is a concentrate – you add only 1 teaspoon per quart of sugar syrup. So we now have enough HBH to last quite some time…

Anyway, we made up some sugar syrup with HBH added to replace the ziplock bags, and went down to the hives to do an inspection. It was also time to install the beetle jails for those pesky hive beetles.

House of Tudor

We saw really good laying pattern in the House of Tudor, including eggs. Everything was going well. We didn’t see any hive beetles at large, but did see some trapped ones that the girls had propolized in place in their own version of a beetle jail.

The beautiful laying pattern in the House of Tudor, with capped honey around the edges of the frame and capped brood in the middle.

House of Hanover

As we were inspecting the frames in the House of Hanover, we again saw Queen Victoria! This time, we managed to take a Royal Portrait. How fitting for the week of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee! But before we unveil the portrait, let us show you an awesome picture of some different stages of brood in the House of Hanover:

In the left and right, you see young developing larvae, with older and more developed larvae as you come towards the capped brood in the middle of the picture.

Now, here’s the contest section of the post. Can you spot Queen Victoria?

Can you spot Queen Victoria and her court?

And finally, here is the Royal Portrait:

Queen Victoria is marked with a yellow dot (because she was born in a year ending in 2). She is surrounded by her court, who see to her every need and feed her nothing but royal jelly.

We’re getting rid of the bugs early…

…literally.

After our inspection last Saturday, we noticed that the top feeders we use were killing a lot of bees. You see, they have these wooden and plastic floats where the bees are meant to stand on to drink the sugar syrup. But far too many of our precious girls were falling in and drowning. Not to mention the fact that the sugar syrup was fermenting…

Pulling up the wood and plastic float to find lots of girls

We both felt so terrible that the configuration of something we provided had led to the death of some of our girls. We worked on replacing the liquid with syrup in ziplock bags with little slits in to let the syrup out gradually.

As we were cleaning out the sugar syrup, we noticed a few bugs and larvae in the syrup. Ew! And PANIC!

Small hive beetle larva

We managed to catch one of the bugs and identified it as a small hive beetle. We had just averted hive robbing and were working on reducing bee drowning and we have another threat to our hives!

Thankfully, we didn’t see any small hive beetles in the hives during the inspection. So, after getting the sugar syrup bags into the hives, we ordered some beetle jails, which attract the beetles with the smell of apple cider vinegar and trap them in mineral oil (which, of course, kills them too). In the meantime, we were left worrying about the girls and their new invaders!