December 12, 2010

Prison Escapees

Tree hive from a prison yard on Federal Blvd.
Marty happened to be checking on his nuc on Wednesday, so we met him at the farm and asked what he thought might've happened to our bees. He thought it strange that a young queen would fail after having such a strong year and, after confirming (fingers crossed behind our backs) that we drone culled, suggested it was the brood itself that failed. He mentioned systemic insecticides, which happens to be the topic of Phil Chandler's most recent podcast. Anyway, Marty offered to sell us the nuc if it overwintered. He didn't name a price, but it starts with us pulling it through the Winter. We're up for the challenge. We have lots of honey and even a comb with bee bread from our lost colony, so I think we can do it. We excitedly brought the nuc home.

The bees are "prison escapees," said Marty. They'd been living in a tree in a prison yard across town and had overwintered, as it had for several years, inside the chunk of cottonwood at the farm. Marty transferred the bees into the nuc (a 13-bar hive) this Spring, but when he was ready to move them into a full-size hive, the farm staff asked him to postpone the move 'til June when they had an event going on. That's a lot to ask of a bursting nuc and it swarmed. So we have the bees that stayed behind and their young queen.

Once the nuc is settled into the Backyard, we'll put up pictures. For now, we'll leave you with pictures of the windowed hives at Delaney Farm, so you can have see for yourself what a hive might look like in early Winter.



The Demonstration Hive swarmed in June 2009. Silver Spoon!
If this were my hive, I'd get fondant in it right away.
Not sure what's going on with this hive, but it has entrances on 3 sides.

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