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.

Before

After

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!

My English Cottage Garden Hive

Deb Weyrich-Cody, a very knowledgeable reader of this blog, sent me a friendly email with a concern about my new English Cottage Garden Hive set-up. She was rightly concerned that my “rattan” hive stand was not sturdy enough to support a hive full of brood and honey.

She made me realize that I needed to explain the set-up in more detail, lest someone out there make a tragic mistake because of poor communication on my part.

Deb writes:

I love your wicker hive-stand and it makes a gorgeous accent piece in your beautiful garden but, well I’m not sure how long you’ve had your bees and there are probably a few things you should know (before it’s too late)…

Your brood box won’t be terribly heavy at this point, however once it’s packed full of brood, nurse bees, pollen and honey and then add honey supers on top of that; the weight will increase exponentially.  A shallow honey super can weigh 50-75 lbs, while a full depth super like your brood box can weigh up to 100lbs and I know that you don’t want to even contemplate the havoc that would result if your beautiful wicker stand were to collapse.

Deb is exactly right, if in fact my hive stand was real wicker. It’s not.

Pier One Hive Stand

It’s an  all-weather ottoman of synthetic rattan over a durable iron frame.  It’s fully capable of supporting a heavy hive. I found it at Pier One.

So, if you want to copy my look, PLEASE don’t use real rattan, or if you do, make sure it is fully supported from below with bricks or a concrete block.

Also, my hive is not a traditional 10 frame Langstroth set-up. It’s an 8 frame “English Garden Hive” from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, and I’m using all medium boxes. I specifically chose this set-up so that I will be able to lift full boxes by myself.

I also think it looks wonderful!!

And many thanks to Deb for bringing her concerns to my attention. I would hate to be the cause of a beekeeping debacle out there!!