Bee Reproduction: A lesson from the Drones

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Sarah – Some of my bee colonies are starting to get quite large so I decided to split them and hopefully avoid a swarm. Swarming happens when the bee colony grows quickly and feels cramped or overly contained; The queen takes off with half of the colony and leaves the hive for somewhere new. It’s time to manage our bee reproduction.

Try to identify the least helpful helper in this video:

Dave references a few things that he “learned”, let me mention them here just to make sure that you weren’t mislead. I’ll also give the ‘Dave reference’ so you know what I’m talking about.

Burr comb: (Dave reference = bird comb)

Bee Reproduction

Burr comb is wax comb that the bees draw on the bottom, top or edges of the frames. It doesn’t mean anything is going wrong, it just means that you as the beekeeper have more of a mess to clean up. It doesn’t work very well if the bees try to store honey or raise brood in the burr comb as it breaks apart when the frames are removed..

Swarm cells: (Dave actually got this one down pat)

Swarm cells are special cells that the colony makes when they are thinking about swarming. The swarm cells they make are to raise a new queen in; when the new queen is just about ready to hatch, half the hive population and the old queen leave for a ‘better’ home.

Drone cells: (Dave reference = drone frames)

Bee Reproduction

Drone cells are the cells that drones are raised in. The drone cells have to be larger than worker cells because the drones (the only males of the hive) are the biggest bees around. A drone cell can be recognized by the raised cap (it looks like a bump on the top of the cell) where as a worker bee cell is capped flat.

Drawn comb: (Dave reference = drawing comb)

Drawn comb is fully formed wax comb in the typical hexagon shapes that the bees have produced.  When a new frame is introduced to a hive it has a mostly flat base and requires that the bees draw the comb before it can be used to raise brood or store honey or pollen.

Bee Reproduction

Tell us what you thought of Bee Reproduction. Try out one of the fancy new “feelings”, or leave us a comment. Even better, subscribe, for weekly offgrid adventures, emailed right to your doorstep.

Have you seen Spring bee checkup?  You should check it out, my apologize for the dance.

Think we should just get out of the freakin’ way and let the girl tend her bees? Share this post with all your FB friends to show them how unhelpful we are, that’ll teach us!

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Mid Winter Syrup Snack – Bee Keeping

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Sarah – It finally got above -10 C the other day.  Because of the pleasant weather I decided to check on the bees.  As I opened the hive the smells flooded out and brought me back to the thrill of honey season.  The scent of wax, honey, propolis, and the hive’s own unique pheromones came out to serenade me.  Providing a snack of syrup on the milder days will give the old girls a better chance of surviving the winter.

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