Flashback Friday: Behold the Beauty of Honeybees

This week’s flashback Friday turns our attention to a much more recent beekeeping episode: Friday, August 28th! Senior Beekeeper Mehreen, Junior Beekeeper Liam, 3D-printing researcher Pri and I were able to take care of the hives and see some really cool events in the lives of our honeybees (and photograph them, too)!

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We looked at Hives 9 through 11, as show in the diagram below.

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Mehreen was very happy to see that Hive nine was doing well!
DSC_0006Liam helped Mehreen inspect each frame in the supers, while Pri took diligent notes of the quality and quantity of each substance on each frame.

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Mehreen looks at a frame in the middle super while Liam (in bottom right) looks at frames in the topmost super (not seen in the picture), removed from the hive. This was done in order to be more efficient and time-conscious.

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From left to right: Liam, Mehreen and Pri.

It was a very hot and sunny day, even through 7 pm, when we began beekeeping in the evening!

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Frames in hive nine displayed A LOT of nectar, which will eventually become capped honey:
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…and we also got to see bee bread, which is mushier, packed pollen.

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The bees seemed pretty content, and did not mind us too much.DSC_0021DSC_0030

If looking closely, one may observe several honeybees with a red-tinted abdomen, which indicates that those particular bees were fed pollen and nectar from certain flower sources, and the other bees with typical black-and-yellow-tinted abdomens were not fed the same quantities of that red pollen and nectar.

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Never seen a young honeybee? Worry no more, for Mehreen points one out to us with her hive tool in the picture below. One may notice that it is smaller and whiter than its big sisters.

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Although difficult to see, a solitary honeybee egg can be found in the smushed hexagonal cell of the frame below.
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Bee-hold the queen, discernible thanks to her elongated abdomen and baby blue marker applied by our beekeepers!DSC_0059 Check out the progression of the effects of smoke on the honeybees! Smoking the top of a super allows us to pick up frames without injuring the bees or ourselves. This is due to the bees believing that the smoke is an alarm signal, indicating to them that they should move, whether onto the sides of frames or elsewhere.DSC_0064 DSC_0065 DSC_0066 DSC_0067

One of the bees that fled the smoke ended up on one of our weights, which we place on top of the hives to prevent them from opening or toppling over, especially in terrible weather. I was able to get a clear close-up picture of this one bee, which was exposing its proboscis.

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Hypothetical newspaper headline: Honeybee Perches on Concrete in Flight from Smoke! I personally love this picture.

While cataloging the contents of each frame in hives nine through 11, we nearly forgot to apply powdered sugar to the hives! To recollect, beekeepers may apply confectioner’s sugar to hives, thus covering the bees in the stuff. The bees will lick each other clean, thereby removing the harmful Varroa destructor mites that hide in their crevices and suck their blood.

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Liam first smokes the top of the super, effectively removing the bees on top, before applying and brushing powdered confectioner’s sugar onto the top and into the hive.

However, occasionally a stubborn bee or two will not leave the top of the super, and is covered in powdered sugar.DSC_0098 DSC_0100

Thankfully, they have their sister to help clean them!DSC_0101

When looking at more frames, we observed drone cells and worker bee cells.

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The drone cells are those that protrude from the frame, seen in the center, surrounded by bees. Drones are the stingless male bees, that serve to impregnate the queen, who may lay up to 2000 eggs per day. The many worker cells in this frame can be seen in the right of the picture. The worker bees are all female, and able to sting. They may each serve a different purpose in the hive, including being nurse bees, part of the queen’s royal court, being undertaker bees, et cetera.

In the picture below, a wee worker bee peeks its head out for the first time, about to emerge from its cell!

DSC_0084Ah, to not only witness the miracle of life, but also to be able to document it in the art of photography! We hope you enjoyed this blog post, and definitely stay tuned for more!

Hope you all had a lovely week, and have an even lovelier weekend!

-Gabrielle

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