Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beehives are One Month Old

Last month we built the beeyard and established our first beehives. In the photo above you can see that our hives are top bar hives (as opposed to the stacked boxes known as Langstroth hives). Notice the little dish of rocks between the hives. It's filled with water for the bees so they won't bother the neighbor's birdbath.

On April 29 we poured three pounds (about 10,000) bees into each hive. You can read my blog from that day for the full details.

We had some confusion when we installed the queen bee into the green hive. She was released directly into the hive without protection. We were at risk of losing her because the worker bees may not have fully bonded with her yet, which means that they might kill her. I'm happy to report that they quickly began building comb. Although the photograph above isn't very good, perhaps you can see there are ten combs hanging from the top bars. These combs are covered in bees, and I believe there are eggs and brood present.
The queen was properly installed in the blue hive, meaning that she was protected in her little queen cage within the hive. The worker bees needed to eat their way through a candy plug to release the queen, allowing them all a little more time to bond. The blue hive (seen above) is also doing well, but it seems to be a week or so behind the other. There are nine top bars of pure white comb. This hive probably has eggs and brood, but it must be located more to the center of the comb; the edges of the comb visible in the observation window are still clean and white.

It's fascinating to watch the bees enter and exit the hives. Since the weather has been so chilly, the bees are quiet until 11am or even noon. Once the temperature is near 60 degrees, the girls get busy. They exit the hive and swoop way up in the air for departure, and when they come home again they seem to dive from great heights. On sunny days there is a lot of activity. Although I walk right past the entrance of the green hive on my way to the greenhouse and the chicken coop, the bees don't seem to notice me or the dog. 

Bee watching is very relaxing and we're beginning to see increased pollination in the cherry trees. So far, it's pretty cool.

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