Natural Food Sources

Spring is Here – sorta

We checked our city hives 10 days ago, and one queen is laying like crazy while the other one still appears to be on winter vacation!   Both hives have lots of bee bread, so brood is imminent.  So, is it that much cooler in the corner where the “lazy” queen is or is she just running out of eggs?  We’ll take a peek in the hives again on Sunday if it’s warm enough.

I hate the idea of replacing a queen we have raised from an egg and who has served us so well for over two years, but it’s a fact of life that we may have to dethrone her and find a replacement.  We have three queen cells on frames in the queen castle, but we won’t know if they are viable for a few weeks so the old queen still has time to prove she’s worth her keep.  She has been a fantastic queen — lots of eggs and friendly bees.  I’m hoping she starts filling up those frames by Sunday!

I checked my hive at the farm, and the bees have barely started making bee bread.   It’s odd, because some plants around the farm like Forsythia are ahead of the ones here, but other plants still look dead.  Why can’t spring give clear signals?   It was a little too cool to go into the hives that were not in the full sun, so I guess we’ll check those next trip.

Hubby bought pollen to try to jump-start the hives, but the bees don’t seem to like it.  At least, they don’t like it at this minute!  We know that bees want what they want when they want it and select the flowers that provide the micro-nutrients they need at any given time.   They might want our pollen next week, or they’ll crave something that’s blooming.

After buying the pollen, we read about the downside of trying to create queens early in the season — it doesn’t matter how many queens we produce if there are no drones with whom they can mate.  Bees kill drones when going into winter as their only job is to mate with queens.   So, no drones, no fertile queen — and the bees will kill a queen, or at least kick her out, if she doesn’t start laying eggs as quickly they think appropriate.   Our strongest hive had many drone cells 10 days ago, but are there enough from other hives for a successful mating flight?

As I’ve found out with seedlings over the decades, you can’t rush nature.   It helps to get a little jump-start with the greenhouse, but trying to move nature’s time-table up by a month isn’t in the cards.  Once again it all comes down to patience, which I may learn eventually!

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