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Heater bees or hygienic bees?

A heater bee -- head down and vibrating to generate heat to maintain the brood temperature

A heater bee — head down and vibrating to generate heat to maintain the brood temperature.

As I patiently wait the appearance of a queen in the observation hive (it seems that the first queen cell was torn down and two others started, albeit at a late larval stage), I’m becoming interested in the heater bees.

I always thought that bees with their heads in a cell were simply cleaning it.  That’s not  necessarily so.

Jurgen Tautz in The Buzz about Bees tells that bees, heads down in cells and vibrating are actually heater bees maintaining the brood at the optimum temperature. He reckons that the control of the brood nest temperature is equivalent to power usage of 20W (watt) and that if bees could channel that energy into a light bulb, they could light up their dark hive world!

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

Do bees go bananas?

IMG_2146In theory ripe bananas should have some effect on bees, but there was no apparent reaction from mine so far.

Ripe bananas give off isoplentylacetate, the main component of the honeybee alarm pheromone. (I picked up this factoid in Jurgen Tautz’s wonderful book, The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism.) So, in theory, they might be expected to become a bit stroppy in the vicinity of a nicely blackened banana.

Immediately after a thunderstorm I put one at the entrance to a queen-making nuke, but they didn’t seem to care much at all. Not even the dead bee thrown out before the storm.

Has anyone noticed their bees going bananas?

(By coincidence, I see this topic has just been raised today on Bee_L Listserv)

Turlough, Vita’s Beekeeper Blogger

The empty cell

The  empty cell

The empty cell

Bees, huh! After yesterday’s activity around the queen cell in the observation hive, I said I expected the queen to emerge in the next few days. They thought otherwise and she emerged overnight — well, I think she did!

In any event her cell has now been largely dismantled. I haven’t managed to see her yet, but this afternoon there was quite a commotion in the hive for a while and I wonder if she has already made her first flaps in the outside world.

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

Paying right royal attention

IMG_4977The observation hive bees are paying great attention to their queen cell.

I think she is due to emerge in the next two or three days.

I think there is only one remaining queen cell in the hive, but this protectiveness is often seen to ensure that one queen does not emerge before another.

Meantime, the foragers in this small colony are very busy bringing in the nectar which is now in full flow.

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

The bees are back

IMG_2133-001The bees have returned to the office and are thriving as the summer nectar flow has just started.

They were dancing this morning and it seems that they have already found the lime tree blossom down by the chalk stream, just 200 metres away.

The colony (frames were selected from a queen-making colony)  is queenless, but initially they had two queen cells, one sealed, one unsealed, on which to build their future.

Within the first few hours after installation, the unsealed queen cell had been removed and the sealed queen cell ceremoniously stuck against the glass,

Unlike last year when the queen cells were well hidden, it shouldn’t be difficult to see when the queen has emerged.

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

IMG_2135

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