Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Q&A - Phone Call with an Expert

My beekeeping friend and mentor, Henry Heimstra, called. He wanted an update on how the bees were doing. He came to the bee yard at the end of July to see the bees and gave them a glowing report (I was SO proud of them!).

At that time the bees were creating supercedure cells and so we let the bees make themselves new queens - and that has happened.

I was glad to have Henry on the phone and quickly pulled out my question list (he might not know I keep a question list but I do :)

Q - Should there be brood at this time of year? A - Yes. The queen should be laying still to build up numbers for overwintering.

Q - Is it a problem that the bees seem to have put nectar into almost every available cell? (I think this is preventing the queen from laying). A - The bees will move the nectar.

Now, that answer certainly caused me to have a DUH! moment. Of course the bees would move the nectar. They're smart. They would know that 200 cells half filled isn't as good as 100 cells totally filled and then capped! I'm glad the bees are in charge here and not me!

Q - When can honey supers be extracted? A - Anytime. In Southwestern Ontario the nectar flows are finished by the second week of September (when the Western Fair is on in London).

Q - Is observing bees coming and going with purpose, doing orienting flights usually a sign that a queen is present? A - Yes.

Q - Is it a problem that the bees haven't collected much pollen? A - If there's lots of nectar available they will focus mostly on gathering that.

Henry commented that if very small lumps of pollen are being brought in it's often a sign of queenlessness. I was glad to see large lumps of pollen being brought into Hive 2 on Monday - that was the hive where I haven't seen the queen but it's now very active.

I told him I put the undrawn frames in the yellow super underneath the purple super which is full of honey and he confirmed that was a good move. Tomorrow I'll head out to the yard and switch them on Hive 2 as well.

And now for a commercial and an invite for all of you to come to Aylmer, Ontario on Sat 29 August 2009, for the Bee Olympics. It's held at the Heimstra's apiary called Clovermead (started by Henry back in the 70's). I attended last year and got some great photos of our beekeeping instructors wearing beards of bees. You can see photos from last year's competition on my Bee Beard blog. I'll be volunteering there this year answering any bee related questions that people might ask in the observation hive room. They have the largest observation hive in Canada - I think it must be about 30 frames - an entire wall. I'll blog on that of course so stay tuned :)

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