The weather this time of year in our area can be finicky – one moment it is cold and rainy and then suddenly the sun breaks through the clouds and a warm 70-degree day is upon us! This is Idaho in May – the time of year when my iPhone weather app gets constant use. I am checking it multiple times a day to find the next warm day for a hive inspection. And, boy do I get excited when I see that bright yellow sun icon with temps in the high 60’s or warmer! This warrants a visit to the bee yard!
I was bummed to lose one of my hives over winter but was pleased to see my living hive thriving when I inspected it last. I saw about eight solid frames of brood (baby bees) in a variety of stages. I saw eggs, larvae, and capped over pupae. This tells me something very important – my queen is doing her job! A hive won’t survive without a thriving queen who is creating new bees like crazy this time of year. I was a happy
To make a great day better, I grabbed a frame from the middle of my brood area and immediately found this beautiful queen. She stood out more than other queens I have seen because of her darker color and overall size. It’s so exciting to see the queen in a hive! I don’t always get this luxury. In a general inspection, I look for the queen’s work (eggs, larvae, brood) and am less concerned with actually finding her. In fact, I rarely go looking specifically for the queen because I don’t want to pull out unnecessary frames from my hive, risking injuring her or killing her.
In my next hive inspections, I will be looking for any signs of swarming - queen cells forming. I will also do a mite count to assess the level of Varroa mites that can quickly take my strong hive and weaken it.
Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!