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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Free Bees

Who doesn't like something for free? Especially when you are talking almost one hundred smackers for a new package of bees!

We lost our first hive of bees just recently. It didn't even make it to the one year mark. The hive seemed to grow quieter and quieter until suddenly it was completely empty.

I broke it down and removed the top super, but left the bottom minus two frames that I pulled out to examine. Well, I never got a chance to put them back in, as just a few weeks later we suddenly had bees coming in and out of the hive again. At first I just thought they were bees from other hives robbing the remaining honey, but then I began to see bees coming in with full pollen bags and none of them leaving with full pollen bags. After that, I had a pretty good feeling that we had a feral swarm move into our hive. What great timing too, as we were so bummed to have lost the first colony only after it was too late to order a new package of bees this year.

I'm pretty thrilled that we will have bees to pollinate the garden again this year, and we have the added bonus of them being very docile, even more docile than the Italians we bought last year... which made me begin to wonder if we really had received an Italian queen.

I read that if a Russian queen is mixed with Italians, they can get fiesty. Well, our so-called Italians were kind of mean and very territorial after a while. At first they were really calm. It may be that we had an Italian queen, but later on a feral queen may have invaded our hive? I also read that Russians can kill themselves off by overloading the brood chambers with honey for insulation during Winter. Well, we didn't have many brood chambers, but there sure was a lot of honey. We may very well have had a Russian colony? It will remain a mystery as to what happened to our first hive. I am just very, very grateful to have been given the gift of new bees.

Now we are curious to see what would happen if we get a second hive and set up some lures inside. We've always advocated adopting the homeless as opposed to purchasing from a breeder when it comes to our pets, hah!

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