It has been exactly one year since my first post on bees.
Here are some of the more interesting experiences of the hobby in that year.
Weather continues to be a challenge. 2011 beat the RECORD precipitation by 10½ inches! Rain washes pollen off the flowers and dilutes nectar, so the girls have to work a lot harder to feed their babies (bee bread made from pollen) and make honey from nectar. Normally nectar water content would have to be reduced by about 80%, mostly by bees fanning their wings. You can imagine how much more exhausting a worker’s short life is when the nectar is more dilute than normal.
This past winter was mild, about tied for warmest on record. My girls had plenty of food, which started them off this season already ahead of schedule. Normally, the queen would start laying again in February, at which point the hive temperature (meaning the temperature around the queen and the brood) must be kept in the 90s, up from the 50s when there is no brood. Had the temperature turned very cold around February, there might have been a problem, but it didn’t so survival was excellent.
A couple of weeks ago, owing to continued warmer-than-normal temperatures, the whole cycle was about a month or more ahead of schedule. In the last two weeks, though, overnight lows have been chilly so swarming/splitting has been delayed.
Reviewing the Royal Lineage
When I acquired my first hive in June 2009, I decided to name my queens after Victoria, as she had a lot of children and grandchildren that I could name future generations of bee queens after. What I failed to anticipate was that a human generation lasts a couple of decades, whereas a bee generation lasts a year. My first naming scheme, then, has already run its productive course.
My bee Queen Victoria (human one was actually christened Alexandrina Victoria) swarmed in early May 2010, before Chris had a chance to split the hive. Human Victoria’s oldest daughter and first child was named Victoria Adelaide Mary, but called Vickie, so I named bee Queen Victoria’s daughter, who then ruled the hive, Queen Vickie. She swarmed in late May 2010, leaving Victoria’s second daughter, now Queen Alice, in charge of the hive.