Update from the Farm – The New Russian Queen

My bees are not happy. They were so unhappy, half of them up and left.

I shouldn’t say they weren’t happy. Its not like I speak the “buzz” language and asked them. As a matter of fact, it could be that they were TOO productive for their own good and had to leave the hive to prosper.

What the heck am I talking about? I’m talking about what’s called a swarm. In everyday language, we say ‘swarm’ when we mean a large group gathering. But in bee speak, a swarm is when the bees actually form a whole new colony – queen and all – and leave the hive for another spot.

This could be for many reasons. Perhaps the queen is old and the bees need to start a new colony. Sometimes it happens when there isn’t enough room in the hive for all the bees to prosper. Or when there’s a lot of nectar flowing, meaning lots of food to go around, the bees may split to get their share of the good stuff.

I’m no honeybee expert, so I don’t know why they split, so I’m sad to see that they did. And there’s another problem that occurred with this that’s far more detrimental to my bees than them swarming.

My bees have no queen.

Nope. Nada. No queen. No leader of the pack. No one to tell the hundreds of worker bees what to do. No one to lay eggs to help the hive get through the winter.

How did this happen? Again, I have no idea! But I have found a solution.

I bought a Russian Queen!

The Queen is the one with the visible wings…her body is almost double her wing length!

Queen bees, much like dogs, are breed based on their temperament. Some varieties show resistance to disease, others are gentler or produce more honey. Some are just breed for looks (JK! It’s not a beauty contest with these ladies!)

My bees now are Italians. I’ve done a little research on the difference between the two, and the Russian variety has all positive attributes for life in New England. You can see an article explaining that here.

The biggest problem may be introducing her to the hive. This may sound funny, but bees are incredibly particular to scent. A Russian Queen has different hormones than an Italian Queen, and they may not accept her.

Beekeeping is hard. It’s like adulating – a lot of the time, we wing it or use Google to get by. (Yes, seriously, I google everything! It drives my DH crazy!)

We put the new Queen in yesterday in hopes that the bees accept her and they make it through the winter. At this point in the year, it’s a slim shot, but it’s worth a try. I will keep you all updated on how it goes!

Would YOU ever try beekeeping?? Let me know in the comments!

One of our honeybees pollinating a Clematis flower


The Bee’s Knees

There is something about spring. I’m not sure if it’s the sunshine, the weather, everything blooming, or that I feel like I’m coming out of hibernation. But I feel sooo much more alive! Like the fog has lifted, and I can see clearly now (cue the music!)

It has been a week since my treatment, and I’m feeling great! Aside from dry mouth, I have no side effects. My oncologist predicted the first week would be the most quiet. I’m grateful I’ve had a few weeks to get the Sylatron out of my system before going on Ipi/Nivo. I was constantly tired before, and now I’m up and getting stuff done. This along with the spring weather has really made me quite the busy bee.

The Hive!
The Hive!

Speaking of bees…we are now beekeepers!! I can’t believe it!! We got our bees last Sunday, and I have been AMAZED at what they can do. Our package came with a separate queen bee, and we did everything by the book to get the hive started. But when we opened it up today, we found that the bees had built a huge burr comb off one of the frames. Of COURSE I hadn’t seen this in my readings, so to the internet I went and did my research. Based on advice from the magical internet, I scraped off the comb and rearranged the frames.

Burr comb from the bees
Nature at its best. Burr comb from the bees

The burr comb is amazing though…it’s like holding a miracle in your hand. It’s incredibly delicate, perfect, and yet somehow sturdy. Every bee has its place and its role, and they all work together to create this amazing thing. How do they do that?!? Plus, they make honey. And who doesn’t love a little sugar in their lives? 😉

Good vs Evil
Good vs Evil

On another note, the kitties are beginning to get along. Frankie is such a love. He just follows Tamarin around wanting to cuddle. She, however, has other plans, and tends to run away. I caught them getting close the other day (much to their dismay). I’m sure time will improve their relationship and increase the cuddle time!