Sunday, May 23, 2010

Local club meeting

On Friday I did the hive inspections. It was hot and I decided to limit my inspections to a quick examination of the second stories and a refilling of the feeders.

If the first colony to start drawing comb in the second story is an indication of colony strength then Galway is outperforming Clare. This surprises me because Galway had always seemed a little behind Clare. Even the activity outside the hive had always seemed a little busier at Clare.

It was the Galway colony that was installed a few days after Clare because we had to wait for a new queen. But as of Friday, Galway had started work on the two middle frames of the second story and in Clare nothing had been done in the upper hive body. Still, both colonies seemed healthy and active. And the weather forecast indicates they should have plenty of opportunity to forage and strengthen in the week ahead.

On Saturday I attended our local beekeeping club meeting. We were supposed to be installing the club hive but the guy supplying the bees didn't make it. Apparently he had a graduation to attend. You'd think that would have brought an end to the meeting in very short order but it lasted for about 4 hours and was very informative.

The meeting was held at the home of two of our club members, Bob Grajewski and Sue Garing. The day and the setting were picture perfect.

We had an opportunity to do inspections of a number of Bob and Sue's hives. They had inserted drone frames in the hives as a trap for mites. The mites like to use the drone cells for breeding because drones take a few days longer to develop than worker bees. So frames are inserted with drone cells. The mites settle in to the drone brood. The beekeeper comes along and removes the drone frames and freezes them -- killing the mites (and yes, the developing drones -- but in the bee world drones are often expendable.)

Of course, before you can take the frames you have to remove the bees that are tending to them. An examination of this drone frame proved worthwhile in that the queen was spotted on it. She was gently removed by hand and lowered into the hive before the rest of the bees were given the shake down.

All in all, it was a very worthwhile meeting topped off by finding and capturing a swarm as the meeting was drawing to a close. When the club president just happened to notice the swarm of bees on a nearby bush it reminded me of a line from an old Chevy Chase movie: "Queue the deer." If you haven't seen the movie Funny Farm, check it out. Good flick. Anyway, this swarm seemed to show up at the perfect time as if on queue. It was a great finish to an eventful meeting.

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