Adventures in Beekeeping, Part 2: Another New Hive

I’ll keep this post short and sweet, but it’s mainly to update you that Wheat and I have added yet another hive to our first one.  One of my bff’s, Banks, called me last week to see if I wanted his Daddy’s old bee hives, and if there was still one with bees, “did I want it too?”  Well, duh.

So when I got back from lunch last Wednesday, Banks had single-handedly dropped a double-deep hive of bees in our carport.  These bees are made even more special in that they belonged to one of the sweetest men I ever did meet, Banks’ Daddy, Mr. Gene.  Somehow this hive of bees has been hanging on since Mr. Gene couldn’t any more.  It’s pretty amazing, and it means so much to me to have them!

Marc just happened to be in the area and came over when he was done with a job to help me see what was going on inside the hive.  We decided to keep it here, and Wheat and Marc moved it into the backyard.  Then Marc and I removed the lid and checked things out, frame by frame.

Checking for a Queen in a Old Hive | Oysters & Pearls

Even Marc wore a veil this time, as we weren’t sure what was going on in there, and the bees could have been aggressive.  And turns out, they were.  They did what I now call, “come at me, bro,” which is how I describe them flying directly at your face and bumping hard into your veil.  Turns out, this behavior is consistent of a hive without their mother queen.

And we searched every frame and failed to find a queen, nor did we find a single egg.

Checking on an Older Hive That Had Not Been Tended in Multiple Years | Oysters & Pearls

What we did find was lots of honey and pollen!  With no queen, the worker bees had just been filling up the comb with pollen and honey.  The honey was mainly capped off, and dark due to age.  However, it tasted great!

Older Honeycomb from a Queen-less Honey Bee Hive | Oysters & Pearls

It was really neat to see the pollen in the comb.  You can see that different types of pollen the bees were collecting were different colors.

Pollen from Various Sources and Honey in a Queen-less Honey Bee Hive | Oysters & Pearls

The shiny bits of comb are uncapped honey that isn’t ripened yet.  They ripen honey by fanning it with their wings to evaporate the moisture and reduce it to higher sugar levels, then cap it off.  I love beekeeping just for the fact that I’m learning so many new things on a daily basis!  Bees are too cool, man.

Once we determined for sure there was no queen or eggs in there, we put the hive back together and let them settle down.

Disturbed Bees Without a Queen | Oysters & Pearls

Bees at a Queen-Less Honey Bee Hive | Oysters & Pearls

We threw our gear in our vehicles and I met Marc and Anna Jo at my parents for a poorly-timed evening rendezvous with my bees there.  We needed to check to see if the original queen was there, and also check to see if the queen cells we had left in there had hatched.  Turns out, both had happened.

Checking for a Queen Bee | Oysters & Pearls

We found a juvenile queen, as well as the original queen Bee-yonce from the old hive.  We anticipated that one would swarm and take bees with her out of the hive, or alternatively, they would kill each other.  Wheat and I checked on Sunday and the bees were all still there, so we can only assume that Queen Beeyonce put an end to her competition.  You can see above where the bees had added on honey comb to the old honey comb and are starting to fill out the frame.  They’re working hard!

Honey Bees Dislike Dark Colored Clothing | Oysters & Pearls

Also: bees do not like dark pants.  I suffered my first bee sting and spent a good bit of time smoking them off of my britches.  Lesson learned.

UPDATE: We purchased a bred Queen for Mr. Gene’s bees!  She came in this nifty little faux “Queen cell” along with two little worker bees, and we literally stuck her in the hive on 3/31.  We won’t bother them again for two weeks.

Bred Queen Bee for a Queen-less Hive | Oysters & Pearls

The worker bees on either side of the little candy cap at the end of the tube will chew threw the sugar and release her, as if she had hatched from her real Queen cell there.  The plan is for the hive to accept her as their Queen and she should start laying eggs.  Fingers crossed.  Until then, I will go ahead and reveal her name: Queen Latifah.

Until Next Time

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4 thoughts on “Adventures in Beekeeping, Part 2: Another New Hive

  1. Jim McClellan

    What a cool adventure! I’m glad to see you guys keeping this practice alive and I’m looking forward to reading about your honey harvest.

  2. helen

    This is so interesting! Since we enjoy honey so much and have been aware of the loss of bees due to various reasons, I love reading about what you are doing. You are braver than I am!! Thanks for contributing to our market this way! I hope you get lots of good stuff eventually,,,,no more dark pants! lol!

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