Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bee Diary May 22nd

After what seemed like weeks of unseasonably cold weather, we finally had a warm sunny day! Temps in the high 60's, partly cloudy.
After a 12 hour shift yesterday, I allowed myself some decadence. While the kids played fort made a cardboard box, I took my coffee out in the back yard and sat by the hive and watched. I'm not sure if is the hypnotic thrum of the hive, but I can't seem to tear myself away. I don't think I have ever sat so still for so long in all my 48 years.
I watched for almost an hour and was very pleased with all the work they seem to be doing. The comb is expending and a steady stream of workers landed on the entrance board, their pollen baskets ready to burst with yellow and orange and white pollen.
Later in the afternoon however, while working in the garden, I noticed some frenetic activity in the front of the hive. I am afraid of the dreaded "robbing" I have read so much about. I went and sat by the hive again to observe. While there was a definite increase in activity, I didn't notice anything sinister about the bees. All were buzzing about facing the hive (a good sign) and I didn't notice any fighting or dead bees around. (Another good sign). But then I noticed something amiss. To this point my bees have been either adorable fuzzy yellowish brown bees that seem very teddy bear-like, or yellow with black stripes at the very end of their backs. Now I was noticing some bigger bees that were much darker, not fuzzy and did not look like my bees at all. I first thought they were drones, but I didn't think they had the larger eyes drones have, although they didn't stay still long enough for me to really tell.
Then I remembered that the queen has mated with several different drones (therefore is carrying different genetic material) and her offspring may not all look alike. I think these were new worker bees (or three week old bees) out for their first orientation flight. I couldn't find much out about it though.
In the meantime I am frantically trying to finish my backyard garden and plant as many bee loving, food producing plants (and native if possible).
Photos tomorrow.

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