My first memory of bees was on a project at Brunskill elementary school,
Saskatoon, Canada on the prairies where I grew up. My plan was to build
a 1/3-size hive. Visiting our local bee supply store, I still recall the fragrant
beeswax "foundation", inserted in frames for female worker bees to build
their hexagonal cells on to insert eggs, pollen or honey.
My project idea was too agressive, even with my Dad's help, I scaled back
to include hive sketches and built several 1/3 size frames with fragrant wax
foundation. I never learned if bees would accept a 1/3-size hive, but later
learned today's bee hives owe their design with "bee spacing" to Rev.
Lorenzo Langstroth, "Father of American Beekeeping".
Rev. Olaf Storaasli, my grandpa, had bees at his Emmons MN parsonage.
My dad and 2 brothers helped raise their bees, but my aunt feared them,
ckaiming they sensed her presence. More likely it was her perfume.
At 2008 computer conferences in Belfast & Trondheim, we met Sven,
a clever researcher & Synective Labs CEO. We visited his company,
stately home and apiary (7 bee hives) in Sweden. Sven's enthusiasm
& curiosity for bees and bee journals was addictive. We were hooked!
After 6 months learning at Bee meetings, we got our 1st hive. We still
seek Sven's help via live Skype video calls. We hold our iPhone over
our hive for Sven to view live and provide welcome advice.
We've experienced first hand most beekeeping successes & failures,
learning a great deal in the process. Beekeeping is a "black art" with
no one having all the answers. "Experts" may disagree (e.g. Colony
Collapse Disorder) so often you just use your best judgement.
"Experts" hives may swarm or die, while novice hives thrive.
It's a mystery for all of us to figure out together.
March 15 2014 (Split1)
Our 24/7 BeeCams showed a BeeBeard on our hive, a swarm indicator.
We didn't want to damage our healthy hive, yet we split it to prevent
imminent swarm, indicated by many queen cells. Sven and "experts"
at our March Bee meeting suggested spliting our healthy hive.
We split both brood boxes (one "deep" & one smaller "Illinois-style"),
alternately adding 5 new (empty but drawn) frames to each brood box.
Then we split our super, so each hive had 2 brood boxes topped off
with a super, seperated by a queen excluder (screen mesh), to prevent
our queen from laying eggs in the honey super (she's too big to squeeze
through the excluder mesh). The new split (right Cam 1) seems,
OK as bees seem busy flying in and out gathering nectar and pollen.
April 17 2014 (Split2)
Our original hive once again overflowed with bees so we performed a 2nd
split, this time moving our original hive to a new far-away location,
on Sven's advice (Cam 3). The new hive, "Split2" was located where our
original hive was so our field bees returned to the new hive, giving it
a healthy start. Some field bees returned to the adjacent "Split1" hive
temporarily, as they couldn't find their original hive. Once our new hive
was placed exactly where our old hive was, they returned to the new hive.
We added Cam3, after the 2 splits (3 hives), so our 2 split hives
are adjacent (Cams1&2) & original hive alone (Cam3).
In this experiment, we're curious if both splits plus our original
hive (alone in Cam3) will thrive in our coming good weather.
We're concerned our original hive has little activity at its entrance.
Did I drop its queen in transit so they need to make a new queen?
It's all a mystery to follow on our BeeCams. You can now watch our
hives thrive or collapse before your very own eyes.
We have no idea where our original queen is, but we saw numerous new
queen cells, sufficient to perform our splits (beats swarming).
The hive we split yesterday (plus the new hive) both are discarding
many new queen white pupa casings on their entrance boards. What
does this mean? We hope many new queens emerge and the fittest
survive after the new queens "have it out".
We hope you enjoy watching our nature evolve before your eyes.
May 10 2014 (Split3)
Following 2 "splits", can our 3 hives produce queens & survive?
Not knowing, we left for a Florida wedding & Carribbean cruise.
BeeCam views from Cayman Islands showed 2 hives OK but a
Bee Beard on "Split1", a swarm sign. Would we return in time?
Luckily, rain delayed our bees swarming from "split1" hive.
We split the bearded "split1" hive by moving both Illinois-style
brood boxes to a new "split3" hive (right of "split2" in Cam1).
Cam1 shows splits 2, 1 & 3 (left to right) & Cam3 our 1st hive.
It's amazing how our bees generated new queens for the splits.
Split 3 resulted in a bee sting swollen right hand (normal), as 2
heavy brood boxes stuck together. Even worse, bees followed
me inside & stung my wife when caught in her hair. Bees are
confused when trapped in long hair and sting anything nearby.
Next, to give "split1" more room, I'll add an Illinois brood box.
May 19 2014 (ACBA Talk)
Monday night I shared my enthusiasm about bees & BeeCams
in a talk (downloads) at our local Anderson County
Beekeepers Assn. in Clinton. It seemed quite well received.
Today, Sven (in Sweden, who started us Beekeeping) sent
a video describing his Apiary (& cool Jens Lekman music).
TO BE CONTINUED
Updated by Olaf 3 March 2021