Thursday, May 22, 2008

bees are cool

hey everybody who hasn't seen my backyard lately! Announcement: Bees are really cool.

bees in the observation hive

When we moved into Mariposa Grove, there was already a hive here. It produced a lot of honey last summer, and I started to get into beekeeping then. But in the fall, we ended up with a hive in crisis. Our queen had died and been replaced by an intercast queen - a mish-mash of a queen bee and a worker bee. Basically, a larger than average bee with queen pheremones and an infertility problem. A queen bee that doesn't lay any eggs is death for a colony, which is where our hive was headed, until some beekeepers who know what they are doing came by and identified our problem. They killed off the intercast queen, introduced some fresh brood, and saved the colony. Yay!

That's where the action begins, actually, because the uber-beekepers left us with the advice that it's easier to maintain two hives than one - when one hive is suffering, you can help it with aid from the other one. That was all i needed to hear.

So with Tim's help (he's a Grover too), and the workshop of a friend from the eastbay topbar users group, I put together a new hive this spring. Since we happened to have an almost perfectly sized piece of plate glass lying around (who knows why? it looks like it might have been a shelf or a table-top) I decided to make it an observation hive.

the non-observation side of the observation hive

The observation side of the hive doesn't actually take pictures well (reflections and whatnot), but you can see it in this swarm-catching video.

It was really cool to catch that swarm. It's doing well, and I'm really enjoying having these bees observable.


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