Diary of a Community Orchard 30/03/19: Bee Poo, Pollen and Elusive Queens

Thanks to everyone who came along, and no worries to those who couldn’t make it this time. As we’re meeting regularly (unless weather is not good and likely to annoy the bees!) each week at the new time of 10am.

First off we started by trimming down the apiary reed fencing so that it’s level with the top rail of the wooden structure.This gives it a uniform look (which is good for my OCD (!!)) as well as ensuring that the hives have an extra half hour of sunshine directly on them in the morning and the same in the evening. An extra hour of warming up the
bees each day will help them enormously throughout the season.20190330_114318
Then, donning suits, we went into the hives…

We were able to see capped and uncapped brood, as well as some capped honey in the supers (the top boxes which the queens are kept out of so we can spin it off and put it into jars). With the increase in rape crop at Glapwell, we should see these filling up shortly, which means £££ in the Orchard coffers and happy customers.

One of the things we spotted in the hives was small, yellow, elongated egg shapes. We initially thought these might be some sort of insect eggs, with thoughts about Small Hive Beetle (SHB, a pest that needs notifying to DEFRA), egg laying workers, and wax moth. Thankfully having a little booklet of disease identification photos we were able to eliminate these. It couldn’t be SHB or wax moth as the eggs are the wrong shape. And they couldn’t be egg laying workers because that doesn’t happen for at least 21 days after the loss of a queen (whose pheromones suppress the egg laying hormones in the workers (who are all female)), and during the check, we saw uncapped and capped brood (meaning there’s a queen in there that’s laid eggs at least 9 days ago).20190330_105301 (1)

What were these strange “eggs”? Having taken photographs and been able to zoom in closely on them, we were able to determine they were in fact… bee poo !!!! You learn something new every day. The eggs were not all the same shape when examined by zooming in to photos on the laptop, and had a “dried poo” texture (not that I’m a bee poo expert). Thankfully they’re nothing to worry about !!! Take a look at the photo to see what we mean (and zoom in if you can).

One wonderful thing that is a result of the photos we took… We spotted for the first time since August last year, our queen in the left hand hive. Take a look at the photo with the loads of bees on and see if you can spot her. We knew she was there, but as we
expected her to have a red dot on her (marked for last year’s colour when she was born)… It could well be that the original we put in has been superseded by a queen they raised themselves. I will try and catch her next time in order to mark her with her red dot (red for 2018).

20190330_103101
All in a very successful hive visit and we hope that you can join us next week. 10am.

Oh, and if you’re free on Friday morning, 9:00am – 11:00am, please do come down and visit us at St Barnabas’ Church (the bottom side door on the path) where we’ll be painting up the two new hives we bought yesterday. We’d love to see you and share a cuppa and a biscuit / natter / paintbrush.

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