Well, maybe happy pupation day.  It's been about three weeks since the hive went on-line.  Worker bees take about 21 days to fully emerge from their cells.  They start as an egg, then eventually pupate, like a moth or butterfly, and then finally hatch out as a fully formed bee.  And they go straight to work cleaning out their cell so another egg can be laid.  Since I've had a lot of questions on "bees", here is a good WikiPedia link on bee life.  The new worker will go through many jobs before finishing up as a forager.  But at three weeks, we should have some new bees starting.  Perhaps a bit later, though, since we've had cold weather delay things.

I've also had some questions on the hives.  Unlike the "traditional" box type hives (called Langstroth hives), these are Top Bar hives, or more specifically, Horizontal Top Bar (HTB) hives.  They are popular in Africa due to their simplicity and inexpensive construction.  Again, WikiPedia has some good info - Top Bar.  In the US, they are becoming a common choice.  I decided on the design because I could easily make it and, unlike box hives, I can manage it without lifting heavy boxes full of bees and honey.  TB hives are also supposed to be better for the bees as you disturb them less when checking in on them.  My particular design comes from Christy Hemenway of Gold Star Honeybees, a company Christy started to promote Top Bar Hives.  Her design, and the fact she works in a similar northern climate (Bath, Maine) looked good to me, so I ordered the plans.  Thanks Christy!  Do check out her site and videos.  They were a lot of help and encouragement for me :-) .

As for the bees, they are hanging in there for more cool rainy weather.  They have been draining about a quart of syrup a day!  Yesterday, I fired up the wood oven for the first time since installing the bees.
I had been holding off on that as I didn't want to disturb the bees with smoke before they had settled in.  The oven is not close to the hives, but the smoke can blow that way on occasion.  Yesterday was not a problem, though as it was blowing the other direction. 

Things should pick up this week.  We will be in Portland to get a visit with Jess at one of her meetings, but the weather here is supposed to peak out in the 70's.  I'm sure the bees will be hopping!  I've noticed several patches of trillium and other wild flowers blooming down the road, so I hope they'll find them.  Plenty of dandelions anyway as I can't cut the lawn with all the rain we've had :-)

Think Bees!


Lynn Price
05/09/2011 18:46

Thinking bees, for sure.....thank you for the detailed updates!

Am now seeing wasps in my own urban yard, and knowing you have had wasps in the past - how do bees and wasps interact within a common space? I have some bees, but they don't nest/hive here, to my knowledge.....

Thanks -
Your East Coast bee fan

05/10/2011 16:21

Wasps are carnivorous and can attack and kill bees. We mainly have yellow jackets here. A strong hive can fend against the wasps, but we will need to keep an eye on it. They can get bad here, so we'll see.

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