Tuesday, May 18, 2010

once, twice, three times a snooki

(the primroses are totally kicking this year, by the way)

we have actually spent a lot of time doing other typical spring yard things. cleaning, planting, staring at tiny green things in anticipation. however, we have been totally mesmerized by the girls. snooki's girls. it's typical to open up a hive and check things out about once a week or so.

first check, a week after putting in the package. in this check we're looking to be sure that snooki is seemingly present in the colony, and most importantly, laying eggs. eggs look like tiny grains of rice in the bottom of the cells. here's what we found that day, one week after the last blog entry:

bees under the lifted sugar water pail. good. eating. women love their sweets.

we provide what's called a foundation in the frames. this is a plastic molding of the classic beehive shape we're all familiar with. bees add their own wax to this, making the cells longer and deeper. if you click on this picture you can see that the bees have started to draw out this comb. there are also eggs on this frame, but mostly impossible to see in the photo.

girls on top of their busiest frame. they were calm for this inspection, which seems unseemly behavior for any jersey girl. but we'll take it.

pollen-gathering machines. check out the cankles:

second inspection happened about a week after this. here we're checking for a couple of things. first, that the girls are gathering pollen (their protein source) and nectar (which will feed the bees and some of which will eventually become honey). pollen is in the dark cells, and nectar is the more liquid delicious filling.

again, looking for eggs, but this time, also larvae and capped brood. it takes 21 days for a worker bee to go from egg to larvae to bee. when larvae are ready to be capped so they can develop into bees in peace, they give off a pheromone that alerts their sisters to cover them up. girls appreciate some privacy, even if they do use bump-its. this is a great photo showing cells with larvae of various stages and covered brood.

third inspection is more of the same. is pollen being gathered? nectar? is there brood? but, more importantly, is the brood hatching? yes, it is. look at the center of this photo and you can see a new baby chewing her way out:

here's another image, showing empty cells from which young bees have already emerged. the first of many jobs the workers rotate through is to clean out these cells in preparation for the next egg. also, this photo shows bees of different ages. unlike us, bees darken as they age. if you look at the bee the third down from the far right side of the page, notice her cute light fuzziness. we were shocked to realize that bees, in fact, have baby faces.

in this inspection, everything was so far, so good. bees being born, more foundation being drawn on more frames. there was some occasional burr comb (bees adding comb where it really doesn't need to be), but nothing to fret about. we just removed it:

but what was nice about this inspection is that we're starting to calm down a bit. the bees are busy (of course), but mellow. they just keep doing their thing as we rip apart their home (without damaging, of course. like if paul bunyon ripped off the top of your house and you continued to cook dinner as he commented to babe the blue ox how cool humans were, and what little ecosystems they develop).

so, we decided to look for snooki herself. and we found her without too much hassle at all. she's too fat with eggs and general good condition now to fly, so no fear of that. can you find her? because if you can't find a queen bee in this picture you may not be able to tell a dandelion from a tree:

and, again, more snooki. can you find the really young bee by her? she looks like an ewok. like, if i could pick her up and give her a hug i would totally do that:

so, that's the bees. they are awesome, and we're so glad to have them around. hopefully everything continues to go well.

we do have the gardens going:

but this picture is from two weeks ago. things are looking much better now.

and above is the arbor, where fierce oriole fights have been happening on a nightly basis.

lastly, a moment of fern zen:

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