Friday, June 22, 2007

1000 Mile Checkup

I apologize for the delay in posting. You may remember in my last post that we had opened the hives for the first time and my friend, Iddee, had suggested we do a full hive inspection because he had concerns about one of the hives. Well we did that - and we had some serious concerns about a couple of the hives. We couldn't find the queen and it was looking like there was little or no brood. Not good.

I got pretty depressed about that. I know it sounds silly. We have six hives and four of them are doing pretty darn good, but I feel responsible for these girls and two questionable hives means we've done a pretty bad job at caring for them. I really couldn' t bring myself to post about it.

Out of desperation I called the Virginia Department of Agriculture (VDAC). I was hooked up with Bob W. (I know how to say his last name, but have no idea how to spell it). Bob was really cool. I told him of our concerns and he volunteered to come out and do hive inspections with us and help us figure out what's going on. So we set a date of two Mondays ago for Bob to come on out. As it turned out, my parents were here for a week long visit. That was cool. They seemed to enjoy sharing this experience with us.

I've got to tell you, I am really thankful for Bob. I was so worried before he showed up. But once he got here he was so calm and reassuring that I almost fell asleep. He talked to us for a bit while he started his smoker and then grabbed his veil and said "Let's take a look."

Bernie and I suited up and got my mom all set in a veil so she could go in with us. The three of us went into the apiary looking like we were ready for a deep space moon walk. Bob entered the apiary, threw his veil on the ground, rolled up his sleeves and began breaking down all of the hives. He was fearless and never got stung even one time - even though he picked up handful of bees with his bear hands to show my mother the difference in worker bees and drones. Bob rules.

Here's the skinny on how we ended up - we have one hive that has a drone layer and doesn't appear to have a queen at all. We have one hive that has a queen and some brood, but is very weak. We removed the super and left it with only the brood and food boxes. We have one hive that is really rocking and we added another super to that one. The other three have all swarmed and are doing ok, but need to get stronger. They each have one super on them.

My mom was there for each hive inspection and really did just great with all the girls swarming around her. I was really proud of her and snapped a picture to put on the website. Dad watched the whole thing from a distance and wasn't too interested in an up close and personal view.

Bob was really great and took a lot of time explaining what we are dealing with and offering some suggestions. I was so excited to get pictures of the bees and queen that I never even thought to get a picture of Bob! But not to worry. He agreed to come out again in a month and bring a queen for our queenless hive. I'll be sure to get some pictures then.

So that's where we are right now. It's not great news, but it's not horrible news either.

I'll update the website with some pictures - there is one of a queen that is pretty cool. Check them out!

Bee happy,