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I’m a book-reading, craft-making newlywed living outside Chicago. I love my husband, cooking dinner and especially eating desserts! We love to ride bikes all over town and read books at coffee shops. I also enjoy shopping at JoAnns, drinking wine on the patio and playing with my bunny rabbit Penelope. Thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog. Please leave a comment- they really make my day! :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Adventures in Beekeeping: Hive Maintenance

ThatGuy and I have been checking on our hives about every 7-10 days.  People are always curious and ask what we look for. 

ThatGuy opens the hive

1. Evidence of the Queen

The queen is the most important bee!  She lays all of the babies and sends off pheromones to the rest of the hive, keeping them happy and hard working.  While the queen can sometimes be hard to spot, its easy to see the little white larvae in the cells. 

Answer at the bottom of this post!
2. Nectar and Pollen

Nectar and pollen are the precursors to honey.  It's been really interesting to see the different color shades of pollen- some it ranges from green to yellow to purple!  

3. Honey!

Seeing honey always makes us excited!!  In the image below, the majority is uncapped honey.  After its been made, the bees put a wax cap on it (the white at the top of the frame) which allows some water content to evaporate to get the right consistency of honey. 

We also look for things we don't want to see. 

1. Predators/pests

Bees have enemies!  So far the only one we have seen are wasps, and the bees sting them to death. 

2. Swarm cells

When the hive is too crowded, some bees consider leaving the hive.  The original queen will leave with part of the hive, and the rest will stay behind and create a new queen.  That peanut-shaped cell on the right of the frame is a swarm cell.  I have a sad story that accompanies this picture, but for another post.

3. Beeswax in places it shouldn't be. 

Bees are pretty tidy and follow the rule of  "bee space." Anything wider than 5/8 of an inch and the bees will form a new layer of wax.  This will make honey harvesting difficult!  We just use the hive tool to scrap off any extra wax and I have a special ziplock bag I keep it in. 

Here's the Queen!

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