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I have been a resident of Delta Township, MI. since 1988 and I have never been to a Delta Township Board Meeting. What a better way for my first one to be to support the growth of Honey Bees! Me and my wife Marcia went to a Board meeting seeking more information to revise the current ordinance that allows bees in the township but only in agricultural areas. It’s the reason I have my bees 30 miles away because they are not allowed at my home.

I’m pretty sure the ordinance will be changed to allow bees in the residential areas in the township. I’m absolutely sure there will be restrictions. Hopefully, my first meeting (and I gave my talk during the open comment session!) will influence the board to make the right decision. Save the bees!

 

 

Queen Annie up for the Winter (Oct 2016)

 

January 2017

 

Playing the waiting and wondering game. Waiting for Spring and wondering if my bees are alive. Only time will tell!

Actually, Queen Latifa was gone before these nasty things came in the first place. Wax moths come in and take over. When a hive is weak, there’s nothing the bees can do to fend these things off.

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Wax Moth Larvae

I think I know the pattern of demise for Queen Latifa. She started off big with no problems. I added a super for the expansion. She swarmed anyway. Without a queen, there were no new eggs or larvae. That’s when the yellow jackets came in and robbed the hive of honey and the remaining larvae. The yellow jackets die off in the winter, making it a perfect habitat for the wax moths.

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Wax Moths Between Frames

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Total Hive Destruction By Wax Moths

Next step is to remove all the combs and burn them. Take the frames and freeze them. Start over with a fresh pack of bees in the Spring. Saving the world one bee at a time is exhausting!

Both of my hives have had their struggles. Queen Annie passed or ran off with some other bee. In any event I believe she was replaced with another queen. Queen Latifa may still be around but her hive is not doing well and a lot of her bees are dying. Both hives should only make enough honey to make it through the winter. If you get a hive that is doing really well the first year, you can harvest some honey.

I was able to take a frame of honey from Queen Annie’s replacement. (I haven’t named her yet) Even tho the hive could only spare 2 1/2 cups of honey, it sure is good honey!

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A frame of honey

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Make shift crush and strain method

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pure honey from the comb

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About 2 1/2 cups of honey

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Taste like honey to me!

I tell you! These bees are teaching me a LESSON by GUESSIN! It’s all a guessing game for the new guy. I guessed I lost Queen Annie and I believe I could be right with that one. I couldn’t find any eggs or larvae and at that time, she should have been laying tons. The bees were not as friendly without the old gal around giving them direction. I did find some queen cells so I waited for them to hatch.

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A Single queen cell

I believe the queen cells did hatch because I did find some larvae. Unfortunately, I destroyed some larvae looking for larvae.

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Drone cells from a group of Burr Cells

I learned that since they were at the bottom of the super they are what’s called Burr Cells, most likely holding drone larvae. They were wedged between the layers. There wasn’t anything I could do to keep them except not removing the super. My next thought is maybe some queens did hatch from the queen cells because the bees are more active and I see a lot of drones outside the hive. I have to verify that but I have to guess again; What are all those drones doing outside the hive if they are not looking for a cute little queen to mate with? I’m guessing they are looking for a date!

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A possible mating flight

After many inspections of both my hives, I have determined that the Queen Annie hive has lost their Queen. The hive wasn’t doing well because the queen was not laying any eggs. I can’t find any eggs or larvae. But I do see honey. The bees will continue to bring pollen and nectar to the hive but without a queen the hive is doomed. But, there is hope. I found what looks like queen cells at the bottom of the hive. IF a queen hatches, mates and starts laying, there is hope. A little more difficult learning experience than I planned but it is a learning experience!

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Queen cells in the Queen Annie Hive

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Close up of a queen cell

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More queen cells

I have a bunch of questions for Queen Annie….like, where are you? Remember, I placed a super on her two pretty good sized brood boxes. Just trying to give her some room and she ignores me! Once again, there was an empty bottle of sugar water. No eggs or honey in the new super.  That made me think, maybe she left me! I started looking for signs like queen cells. Somebody told me if a hive has a weak or dead queen, they would start making queen cells. These cells are bigger and usually at the bottom. Well, I see this:

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I’m just a Freshman when it comes to Beekeeping but my first guess is this is a queen exiting a queen cell. If anyone knows this for sure, let me know. In the meantime, Queen Latifa just keeps on doing her thing! (See latest video under the Video tab)

I have been doing more reading about entrance feeders for my hives. External feeders are something you use to feed sugar water to bees. There are several ways to do this. The easiest way is with entrance feeders or ‘Boardman’ feeders.

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There are pros and cons to everything with this new hobby. With the Boardman feeders you just fill up the mason type jar with the liquid and place it upside down on the feeder. It’s a little messy because some of the sugar water leaks out and attracts bees, creating a ‘robbing’ situation, where other bees come in and steal the sugar water. I guess this is a big problem because you don’t know how much your bees are eating. Besides, where do the little robber bees get their little robber masks to yell “This is a stick up! NoBEEdy move!” (I couldn’t help it)

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I was replacing the sugar water about every 4 days with Queen Latifa’s family eating more and always running dry by the time I replaced it. Queen Annie was close behind but never running dry within that time frame. Since I moved the feeders, it’s too early to tell if this is an improvement. I know it has cut down on robbing unless these bandit bees are dressing up in disguises to pass off as my bees to travel through the entire hive for the free treat. They might as well fly down the road and get their own! I do have an ant problem now that I didn’t notice before. There’s a ton of them in Queen Latifa’s hive and none in Queen Annie’s. Heck, who knows? The ants could be eating all the sugar water and I’m blaming it on Queen Latifa. Too early to judge.

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New location for my external feeder; Inside the hive