1 DJ Haverkamp from Bedford Bee Honeybee Service, delivered new bees to add to my hives. The bees are the Carniolan race of honey bees - a subspecies of the western honey bee and native to places including Slovenia, southern Austria, and parts of Croatia. It will be interesting to see how this type of bee does. http://bedfordbee.com
2 I wore a jacket, hat and veil to keep me protected while I looked at the hives. Because the bees are doing so well, we decided to add a second layer to one colony to provide the bees with more space. The second box, which I am pointing at above, would sit on top of the box in between us.
3 DJ pulled the frame out of the hive to check the bees - they looked great. The Carniolan queen bees in all my hives were procured from Olivarez Honey Bees in Orland, California. They conduct research toward developing bees resistant to some of the problems honey bees face today. http://www.ohbees.com
4 DJ showed a frame where bees deposited honey into the corners, and pollen into the center cells. This is a very healthy and active hive.
5 Each frame is built with wire that supports the wax foundation and draws the bees to make the honeycomb.
6 Bees worked hard to build the wax honeycombs that created these cells where the baby bees would develop. All worker bees are females, but cannot reproduce. Nearly all the bees in the hive are worker bees.
7 This is a view looking down into bottom of a hive box - see all the bees on the side of the frame? It is a very healthy colony. Honey bees have 170 odorant receptors, compared to only 62 in fruit flies and 79 in mosquitos. Their sense of smell is so precise they can differentiate hundreds of floral varieties.
8 DJ got the second box he built ready, but can you see what's wrong with the box? If you look closely, the handle carved into the wooden panel is on the inside of the box, not on the outside, like on the box below. Hmmm, we'll need to fix that.
9 Here, the beeswax was more visible. Secreted from glands, beeswax is used to build the honeycomb but it is also used by humans in drugs, cosmetics, artists' materials, furniture polishes and candles.
10 It was great to see a frame so filled with bees. Here, the worker bees built the comb so well they ran out of space and started to build more comb on the side of the frame. Can you see the queen bee in this image?
11 Young bees are sensitive to cold, so I placed a wooden entrance reducer on the side of the box, which made the opening smaller, but will also prevent any cool night drafts from entering the hive.
12 The hive with the new layer on top was set on a paving stone. Mostly for aesthetic, but it also makes it easier to landscape around it. The hive was also on a new stand designed for bee viewing and to provide good ventilation around the hive. They were all painted "Bedford grey" to match the other outbuildings on the farm.
13 This is the second hive. DJ was pleased to see it and emphasized so many bees covering the frame indicated the colony was very healthy. He likened it to spreading peanut butter on a piece of bread in order to get good coverage.
14 The bees deposited honey into the cells. The queen is seen toward the bottom of the picture - she is the one with the red dot on her thorax. The queen bee can live three to five years. Her role is to fill the hive with eggs, sometimes laying up to 2500 egg per day.
15 The worker bees deposited pollen into the cells - look at the brown substance in a couple of the cells near the top. Pollen contains a lot of protein and nutrients, and will be used to feed the developing baby bees.
16 Sometimes, it may be difficult to find the queen in a colony. To make it easier, DJ marked the queens with a red dot. Queen bees do not have these markers in nature - it's just paint. When the queen dies, or becomes unproductive, the other bees select a new larva and feed it royal jelly to prepare it to be the next queen of the hive.
17 DJ used a hive tool to pry sticky frames apart. If you look closely at the top of this frame, you will see the bees also made extra wax on the side of this frame as well.
18 The extra piece of wax was cut off, so it couldn't distort the frame or hive later. Hives do best when everything is in good order. Honey bees are scientifically known as Apis mellifera, which means "honey carrying bee".
20 Here is a wider photo of that extra piece of wax - notice how the bees are so calm during the visit. We had a bee smoker nearby, but on this day, it was not needed too much.
21 Carniolan bees tend to want more storage space for greater pollen and nectar during winter. These bees can fly at colder temperatures, and they may be less susceptible to brood pathogens.
22 This showed the queen bee in another hive. Carniolan bees are considered non-aggressive and able to adapt to changes in the environment. They're also more resistant to brood diseases, such as the colony collapse disorder that wiped out a large population of bees in North America several years ago.
23 The Carniolan queen bee is a very prolific dark bee variety. It is favored among bee experts because of its ability to defend itself against pests, but work gently with keepers.
24 The honey bee's wings stroke incredibly fast - about 200 beats per second, which makes that distinctive bee "buzz".
25 Under each of these dark filled caps is a developing baby bee. The caps are filled with a different type of pollen, which allows air to circulate through the cell.
26 Here I am with DJ, and my driver, Carlos, who helps care for the bee colonies. Carlos fed the bees sugar syrup these past couple of weeks after they arrived. I'm so glad all the colonies are doing very well. If you want to know more about honey bees, go to http://www.abfnet.org