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  • Ella Hobler

The Weekly Buzz Vol. 3 - Summer 2023

Hello bee lovers! Welcome to this week’s volume of the Weekly Buzz. We have been working hard in our apiary this week to make sure our bees are healthy, and we also harvested a lot more honey which will be available for sale soon! Here are some of our highlights from the past week.

We moved a swarm that we captured last week into our Slovenian AZ hive, which involves some moving around in our apiary. When you are transferring a nuc into a new hive, you need to be considerate of the distance you are moving the bees. The rule of thumb in moving a hive is that you either have to move it 2 feet or 2 miles from its original location. If you move it any distance in between, the forager bees will be disoriented and will not know where their home is. Since the Slovenian hive is more than 2 feet away from the original location of the nuc, we could not simply move the bees from one hive to the other right away. When it was the evening and all the forager bees had returned to the colony for the night, Jason took the nuc and brought it to his house. It stayed there for a week where the bees were fed sugar water to help them build up their resources, and then Jason was able to bring it back to our apiary where we could put it in the new hive.

Pictured: The nuc ready to be transferred into a new hive, and a frame where the bees have

started building new comb.

We bottled our first batch of honey this past week! This was a fairly small batch as we only extracted honey from six frames, but we just finished extracting honey from 18 more frames, so we will have lots of delicious golden goodness ready for purchase soon! The honey from our June harvests is typically lighter than our fall harvests due to the types of flowers that our bees are currently pollinating. This honey is made from the nectar of dandelions and a mix of other spring flowers.

If you want to get your hands on some of this delicious honey, keep an eye out for our next newsletter where we will share prices and information on how you can buy some!

We had some major redecorating happen in our apiary this week. An ash tree that once provided wonderful shade for hot days of beekeeping was cut down, because it had died due to the invasion of emerald ash borers. The tree hadn’t been producing leaves for a while now, so it was about time we cut it down. It was definitely a bit of a shock to come to work and see the tall trunk that loomed over our sheds completely gone, but we reminisced over our fallen tree friend as we picked up the many branches that were so thoughtfully left behind.

My fellow beekeepers and I have been playing a game during inspections where we all try to be the first one to find the queen. When you are queenspotting, you should look for a bee that has a significantly longer abdomen than the workers and a bald spot on its back. So far, I have been beating Eddie and Adriana at this game, but that’s just because I’ve had more practice looking for her. Sometimes we don’t find the queen, but that makes sense, because she is one of around 20,000 to 30,000 other bees in the colony. We are only concerned that we don’t see the queen if we also don’t see any eggs.

Can you spot the queen among all the worker bees?

Well, that’s all the news I have for you this week, but I’ll be back next week with a new volume of the Weekly Buzz!

Bee ya later!

Ella Hobler, Head Beekeeper

Native Bee of the Week!

-By Adriana Sulca-

Hi everyone, welcome to the second week of my column in the Weekly Buzz! This week I will be introducing the eastern carpenter bee, also known as Xylocopa virginica. They are cavity nesting bees often seen tunneling into man-made structures such as decks, gazebos, and/or gables creating large galleries, with multiple individuals working in the same area. They do this by vibrating their bodies and their mandibles press against the wood. There may be a number of tunnels within the wood although there is only a single entrance. Since the tunnels are hollow, it could lead to instability within any structure but that is a rare occurrence. The tunnels will house the eggs and act as a nursery for all of the breeds of new carpenter bees that will soon be buzzing about.

One generation is created a year and the eggs are usually laid in the spring. Throughout the summer, the pupa is being developed and by the end of the summer, the adult bees are out. Species in this genus are among the largest in North America. With shiny black bodies, loud wings, discourteous behavior, and a tendency for nesting in wood close to people's homes, they are hard to miss. Unlike bumble bees, Xylocopa males have pale faces and have eyes that look like they are about to touch at the top. Carpenter bees can be seen from March to October, one of the few bees with adults that can overwinter. They are generalists and polylectic that prefer large open flowers, but will “steal” nectar from those with narrow corollas by cutting a hole at the base of the flower to get to it as they rely on pollen and nectar for food. Although carpenter bees are often considered pests, they are effective pollinators in benefitting flowers, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Fun fact: there are only 5 carpenter bee species in the United States!

City Boy to Hive Boy

-By Eddie Santos-

Surprise Surprise I was stung once again (that makes two!). This one burned a little more and almost doubled my finger in size. But not even the satisfying sting of bees could have ruined the week we had at the South Hill Apiary. Eventful and rewarding would be the two words I would use to describe the week. Unfortunately during our varroa mite check we discovered one of our hives had an enormous number of varroa mites. Varroa mites are an external parasitic mite that attack and feed on the honey bees.We had to remove the queen and replace her with another. We're eager to see the result of our efforts and hopefully save our hive. On the brighter side we were able to harvest and produce our first honey jars of the season! Over 7 pounds of honey were collected! The whole process is tedious but tasty and rewarding! Nothing is more satisfying than harvesting honey and jarring it for consumption! Growing up I've worked and lived on farms and have done my own part of making products from various sources. But it never gets old. There's something about eating something you saw being created and made, something so natural and so real. You can walk into any grocery store and buy honey for around 6 dollars and go on with your day. But mass produced honey does not compare to locally produced honey in my opinion. It's the perfect gift and the perfect thing to put into your tea. Moving forward I'm excited to start sharing honey with others and teaching them what I've been learning! My father, who is a honey enthusiast, enjoyed learning about the process and I'm sure others would share the same enthusiasm.

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