The Garden Hive Groweth

I hived my Italian bees on Saturday, May 12, the day before Mother’s Day.

It’s been 11 days, and the bees have drawn out comb in 5 of the 8 frames.  I don’t like to crowd my bees, so it was time to add another medium super.



I’ll add at least one more medium super, and probably two, to accommodate the growing colony. I would be surprised if I harvest any honey at all from this hive this year.

I did a very quick inspection and found Queen Cups along the top quarter of a few frames.

Queen Cup

This may or may not mean something.

Since the cups are at the top of the frames, their presence may mean that the workers are considering replacing Queen Maria Amalia. If they are, the Queen will lay an egg in the cup, and the workers will begin raising a new Queen.

The Queen Cup will then become a Queen Cell, which looks like a peanut.

Queen Cell

I’m not too worried about Queen Maria Amalia though. It’s not unusual for bees to make Queen Cups, and even Queen Cells, this time of year. Some beekeepers consider them a normal part of the “hive furniture.”

I won’t open the hive again until the weekend after next. It’s good to let the bees do their thing with as little disturbance as possible!

Italian Week – Checking Out My Italian Girls

Beekeeping is so much fun!!

I opened the hive today primarily to retrieve the Queen cage and to see if the girls needed feeding.

I am the worst bee-smoker-lighter ever!!  I swear I followed instructions to the letter, but my smoke petered out after about five minutes.  So, except for a puff or two, I opened an unsmoked hive. The girls were as calm as, well,… really calm bees.  🙂

There are some guys doing construction work at my next-door neighbor’s house. When they saw me in my bee regalia, they expressed concern that I was going to “rile them up.”

When I offered the guys some honey (bad choice of words!!) and assured them the bees were going to be happier when fed, they calmed down too.

I couldn’t find Queen Maria Amalia, but I’m sure she’s there because the bees seem so happy.

They’ve drawn out a few frames of comb, but I don’t think I’m going to open the hive again for a week or so. I’ll just check to see if they need sugar syrup. They did need some today.

More later!!

P.S. I’m going to post on the proper way to light a smoker. Maybe I’ll learn something…

Italian Week – Tiramisu

In honor of my new Italian bees and also because I adore Italian food, I’ve declared this Italian food week!

My first recipe is, of course, tiramisu. You may not know it, but tiramisu is traditionally made with honey!

There is some debate regarding the origin of tiramisu. It may have originated as a variation of another layered dessert, the Zuppa Inglese.

The translation of the name Italian tiramisù means “pick-me-up” (metaphorically, “make me happy”). This may refer to the caffeine in the espresso and effect of cocoa used in the recipe.


Eggs, 3 large, with yolks and whites separated
Honey, 1/2 cup
Mascarpone, 8 ounces
Ladyfingers, 20
Espresso or Strong Coffee, 1 cup
Cognac or Brandy, 2 tablespoons
Cocoa, 1/8 cup


Combine 3 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon Espresso, Honey, and Cognac into the large mixing bowl.
Beat 2 to 3 minutes
Add Mascarpone and beat 3 to 5 minutes until consistency is smooth
In another bowl, combine 3 egg whites and a pinch of sugar. Beat until mixture forms stiff peaks
Gently fold into Mascarpone mixture
Pour rest of Espresso into flat dish, dip one side of each Lady Finger, and layer on bottom of serving dish
Spread 1/3 of Mascarpone mixture and sprinkle with cocoa
Continue layering and finish with a Mascarpone layer
Sprinkle and refrigerate 1 hour before serving

Long Live Queen Maria Amalia!

I named my Italian Queen Bee Maria Amalia. Long live the Queen!

Italian Queen Maria Amalia of Austria

Naming Of The Queen, Part 3

Who would’ve thought naming a Queen Bee would be so difficult?? There are so many beautiful Italian Queen names to choose from…

The latest contender is Maria Amalia.

I’m leaning toward this name because it is Mother’s Day weekend and the Divine Mother is, of course, Mary.  Also, my daughter’s name is Amelie, the French version of Amalia.

You can still weigh in on your favorite name!!  I’ve decided to have the Naming Ceremony and Blessing of the Bees tomorrow.

The Naming Of The Queen

It is a custom among some beekeepers to name their Queen Bees.  For instance, I named the Queen of my English Buckfast bees Elizabeth. Rather unimaginative, I admit.

So what to name my Italian Queen?  I wanted to name her after a historical figure, so I went to that eminent source, Wikipedia.

There were some Italian Queen names I could rule out right away.  My Queen bee doesn’t look much like a Queen Audofleda of the Salian Franks, and she doesn’t resemble in the slightest a Queen Mathesuentha of the Visigoths.

However, she does look a lot like a Queen Rosamund.

And a Queen Isabella.

And a Queen Beatrice.

I’ll be naming her later today or tomorrow. If you have a favorite name, let me know!