Monday, July 30, 2012

Summertime and the living is ... slow ...

No denying it, I've been a very lazy blogger as of late.  Although, to be fair, I was on a vacation for a week.  I know, tough right?

For the most part, the bees have been doing well and are going about their bee business with ease.  Hive beetles have still been an annoyance, but they seem mainly to be on the bottom board and in the first brood super.  For the most part, my bees seem to be keeping the beetle population in check, and they don't seem to be ruining any honey.  Still, they are annoying ... probably more to me than to the bees, but I'm still researching other methods of dealing with them.  The beetle jail I had previously purchased is working, and to my surprise, has also been good for controlling any ants that sneak into the hive.

The bees starting to chase a small hive beetle.

The same beetle a little further down the bottom board.  Many more bees have come to help take care of the intruder.

The weather has been hot.  Really hot (100-104 degrees) and at times, has lasted for several days in a row.  Making sure that the bees have water has been imperative.  Luckily I have a two-tier bird bath/fountain and am less than a mile from the Ohio River.  The hot weather has also made hive activity slow waaaaaay down.  It has been very interesting to see how sensitive honeybees are to the weather.  Earlier in the year it was too cold, now it is too hot, however I suppose that if I was flying several miles a day, I'd also be picky about the weather.  Hot weather also means more bees in the hive which inevitably means there are more bored bees on guard duty (thus more stings).  I did get stung once when I was breaking down the hive before vacation, but I haven't had a problem since.

The hive about 10:30 pm on July 17th. The bees hang on the outside to stay cooler.

Although I still think that my hive is somewhat under populated, my queen bee, Catherine the Great, has continued to lay in a relatively regular pattern and steady rate.  I'm sure that as we go into August and September her laying rate and pattern will be heavily dependent on, what else, the weather.

Brood frame.
Finally, many bee keepers harvest a bulk of honey in July.  This is because the honey is still fairly light in color and taste, and (if you've done good hive management) Varroa mite population hasn't peaked.  Over the past weekend I took a single honey frame by using a bee brush to sweep off the bees, but if I were to take any more honey this year, I'd certainly use a fume board with a natural bee repellent spray.  I personally like the spray offered from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm.  The frame of honey that I took contained early nectar flow and is relatively light in color and flavor.  It also has the slightest taste of lavender, which is really cool since we've got several lavender bushes in our yard, and you just can't get any more local than that.  Some of the frames have honey from two different nectar flows, which is also really interesting to see.

Inspecting a honey frame.
Light honey in the middle, with darker honey on either side.

Capped honey in the harvested frame.
No fancy bottling or extracting for this frame.  I simply cut the comb out into a pan with a lid and have been smashing/spooning out the honey as I want.  I gave about half of the frame away, but even with keeping the other half, there is still plenty of beautiful honey.  Now if I could only catch up on my bee reading!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When Hive Inspections Go Bad

Wow.  Today was a stressful hive inspection!

First, it is about 91 degrees outside, so that made wearing long sleeves, long pants, bee hat and gloves HOT.

Second, the bees had yet to even start drawing out comb on the super that I put on a week ago.  Granted that I did put a queen excluder between the second and third super, but I figured there would at least be a few curious bees working away.  Nope ... nothing.

Third, have you ever dropped a box of bees? Yeeeeeaaaahhhh.  I had removed the third super and was in the process of taking off the second super so I could check the main brood box.  The second super weighed at least sixty pounds (and I was all, "No way will my supers get that heavy!").  I was placing the second super on top of the third super (which I had placed in the grass beside the hive) and must have misjudged my placement because as soon as I let go the box began to tip.  As I did NOT want eight frames of brood and honey to smash into the lawn, I quickly righted to box and undoubtedly crushed several bees in the process.  I suppose I didn't "technically" drop the box, but wow were the bees angry!

Finally, I had to move the main brood super to modify my hive stand  That, apparently, was the last straw.  There were about 200 bees angrily buzzing around me telling me exactly what they thought of my hive inspection skills.  Each time a huge bead of sweat rolled down my face I thought, "Oh God they've gotten in my bee hat!!!"

Between silent freak outs about possible bees in my hat, trying to avoid crushing any bees that may have fallen onto the lawn, moving some cinder blocks and being super hot today's inspection was stressful.

However, I remained calm, got done what I needed to do, and did not get stung, so I still view today's inspection as successful.  Plus, when moving the brood super, I noticed a few beetles along the bottom board being mercilessly attacked by the bees.  This is a good sign because it indicates my colony is strong enough to fend off pests.  I still have the hive beetle traps in place, but really haven't noticed much in them which means the bees are killing the beetles before they get a chance to get too far up in the hive.

I have been reading some reports on nectar flow failure, but it appears that my hive is still going fairly strong.  They've got honey stored around the brood and at least two frames full of nothing but honey.  Now if I could only get them to start storing in the third super ...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm Published!

Our local newspaper, The Campbell County Recorder, published the article I wrote about National Pollinator Week.

Apologies for the low quality cell phone picture!

Here is a link to the text in the article: Kentucky Celebrates National Pollinator Week

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Heeeey Youuuu Guyyyys!

I snapped this photo when I was doing a powdered sugar shake on June 7th.  I thought it was pretty funny to watch this drone wandering around aimlessly as the workers furiously capped honey, tended to brood, and made wax around him.  Poor guy! (He's in the middle left of the photo ... all eyes and stepping on a nurse bee)

Monday, June 11, 2012

News Article for National Pollinator Week

Since I was successful in securing a state-wide proclamation for National Pollinator Week this year, I wanted to go a step further and spread the word about it.  I decided that writing a basic article and submitting it to the local newspaper would be an easy way to do this.  Below is a copy of my article that should appear in the local community press and possibly the NKY Enquirer.

Kentucky Celebrates National Pollinator Week
Becky Anderson
Bellevue, KY

When you hear the word “pollen” what is the first thing that comes to mind?  For many people, seasonal allergies are a common answer.  However, pollen is much than an allergy producer; it is an essential part of our food system.  How essential?  One in three bites of food we eat depends on a pollinator.  That’s why five years ago the U.S. Senate unanimously approved and designated the last week in June as National Pollinator Week.  The goal of Pollinator Week is to raise awareness about the importance of pollinators to plants, animals, and humans.  This year we celebrate National Pollinator Week June 18th-24th.  This is also the first year that Kentucky has officially proclaimed National Pollinator Week throughout the state.  Governor Steve Beshear officially declared Kentucky’s support for this important issue on June 4th

Pollinating animals such as bees, bats, butterflies, and birds make up a large variety of pollinators in the United States.  In fact, there are more than 200,000 animal species that pollinate.  As they gather nectar and pollen for their survival, these animals are responsible for the reproduction of seventy-five percent of all flowering plants and two-thirds of crop plants!  Some crops, such as cocoa harvested for chocolate, depend solely on pollinators for their reproduction.  If you’ve enjoyed chocolate recently you can thank a midge, a tiny two-winged fly.  Pollinators also contribute to biodiversity as they travel.  For example, a typical worker honeybee visits an average of two thousand flowers in one day.
A rise in problems such as pesticides, diseases, habitat loss, Colony Collapse Disorder, and a lack of education mean that pollinators need our help.  There are many easy ways that we can ensure pollinators remain happy, healthy and productive.  Here’s how you can help:
  • Reduce your impact. Reduce or eliminate your pesticide use, increase green spaces, and minimize urbanization. Pollution and climate change affect pollinators, too!
  • Plant for pollinators. Create pollinator-friendly habitat with native flowering plants that supply pollinators with nectar, pollen, and homes. Even a small container garden can make a big impact.  For information on what to plant in your area, download a free ecoregional guide online at
  • Tell a friend. Educate your neighbors, schools, and community groups about the importance of pollinators. Host a dinner, a pollinated food cook-off or other event and invite your friends.       
  • Get closer.  Visit your local zoo or Cooperative Extension office to see pollinators up close and learn more interesting facts about their important contributions.  Also, there are several great books for both children and adults available at your local library.
  • Join the Pollinator Partnership. Go to and click on “Get Involved.” Be part of a growing community of pollinator supporters.  
I hope that you’ll take a few moments during the week of June 18th-24th to learn some more facts about pollinators, enjoy a perfectly ripe piece of fruit, or do a few of the simple actions above.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Powdered Sugar Shake

Although Varroa Mites don't seem to be a problem in my hive, today I decided to do a powdered sugar shake as preventative maintenance.  Basically, the powdered sugar shake is easy, inexpensive, and very effective at preventing and controlling varroa mites.  Additionally, it's amusing to watch the bees fly around covered in powdered sugar.

Here's a short presentation I put together on the pro/cons and how to do a powdered sugar shake.

Stephen Colbert on Pollination

The following short video is worth a watch.  Only Stephen Colbert could make plant pollination this funny!  Just click on the link below and enjoy.

Hive Update & National Pollinator Week

No news is good news right? Since my last post I've done two hive inspections and both were pretty uneventful.  No beetles.  No moths.  No robbing.  No sign of mite infestation.  No errant queen cells. Just slow and steady drawing out of comb and laying of brood.  All of this is great news, but it still seems like my colony is small.

In terms of hive management, the only change I've made is to remove their feeder.  Clover is blooming strong here right now and I'd like them to start storing more nectar.  They have already stored an abundance of pollen, but they don't have much capped honey built up so far.  At the Northern Kentucky Beekeepers Association meeting last evening, the presenter was talking about his annual Labor Day ritual of removing honey supers and treating the hives.  Labor Day?! I had planned to try to wait until at least mid-October to determine if there was enough honey to harvest a few frames.

In other exciting news, I received a reply from the Governor concerning my request to proclaim Kentucky an official participant in National Pollinator Week.  To say I was shocked and delighted would be putting it mildly.  Below is a photo of the official signed, sealed, and stamped proclamation he sent back. 

I'm eager to keep momentum going, so I emailed this news to the president of our beekeeping association.  She seemed pretty happy to hear about the proclamation as well.  I may try to write a short article for the local community newspaper about the proclamation and some basic pollinator facts.  Perhaps next year, with more time, the association could procure a teaching hive or other materials and make a presentation at one of the local libraries.  I think it would be interesting to tie Pollinator Week into the Kentucky Proud agricultural movement somehow.  Here's to geeking out about bees, bats, butterflies and all other little busybodies that make our agriculture thrive.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Where's Catherine?

Here are two photos from last week that I took during routine hive inspection.  This was the first time I've been able to spot the queen on my own and it was pretty cool!

Can you spot her?
Look at the "court" trailing behind her.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hive Top Feeder = Drowned Bees

I'm upset.  I'm sad.  I'm confused.

Here's what happened ...

As I previously mentioned, I ordered a float style hive top feeder about two weeks ago.  It came last week and I installed it last Thursday.  Today, Tuesday, I went back to check on the feeder and how the bees liked it.  I was totally shocked when I found roughly 40 bees had drowned in it over the course of five days.  I immediately removed the feeder, because with a colony as small as mine, I can't afford to lose that many bees.  Period.

Thankfully, the clover nectar flow is strong right now and the hive has been staying fairly busy, so the removal of this feeder should be no big deal.  Also the entrance reducer is still in and I'm watching carefully for pests/robbing.

I'm just disappointed.  I made sure that the floats were installed correctly and have pictures showing that they were.  I plan to email the company and ask if this is normal or if there is some trick to the feeder that I am missing.  It's hard for me to understand how so many bees could have drowned in such a short time.  In the photo below, you'll see sticks that I was using to try to save a few half alive bees after removing the feeder.

If anything positive can be said, it seems that the bees have begun to draw out comb in the second super.  I do a full break down inspection on Thursday, so I will post an update and more photos then.

The feeder and floats before I installed them last Thursday.
The hive after putting on a second super and the feeder.

What I found today when checking the feeder.
This is the feeder after I removed it from the hive today.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

2012 Pollinator Week Petition

I started doing some research about 2012 Pollinator Week and was surprised that Kentucky has yet to officially participate.  Being that Kentucky has some pretty amazing agricultural programs in place, I thought it would be worth a shot to send Governor Beshear a letter to request his support.  Of course I understand that one letter from one person probably won't get much response, but I'm hoping that the seed of the idea of a Kentucky Pollinator Week will at least get planted.

Yes, petitioning for Kentucky Pollinator Week may seem less important than raising awareness for global hunger, illness, war, abuse, or global warming, but I really feel like this is something small that I can do as a hobbyist to generate interest and remove myths surrounding pollinators, and specifically honeybees.

I'll post any response that I get.

May 19, 2012

Governor Steve Beshear
700 Capitol Avenue Suite 100
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

Dear Governor Beshear:

Five years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of the final week in June as “Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations.  Last year 37 states declared their own state Pollinator Week.  With your help, we hope to reach 100% state participation this year.  The popularity and public enthusiasm for Pollinator Week has been overwhelming.  In 2012 we can continue to build on the tremendous success of this movement with your involvement.

Pollinator Week has become an international celebration of the invaluable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. The growing concern for pollinators is a sign of progress, but it is vital that we continue to maximize our collective effort.

Thus, I am writing to ask for your support in helping to protect pollinating animals, which are vital to our food supply, economy, and a key to global sustainability, by declaring “Kentucky Pollinator Week,” June 18-24, 2012.

Kentucky’s amazing “Kentucky Proud” program already promotes the unique diversity of Kentucky farm products, and with your help, Kentucky Pollinator Week will raise awareness and understanding for the vital pollinators that are an extremely important part of Kentucky’s agricultural system. 

In the landmark study, Status of Pollinators in North America, the National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council recommends an immediate increase in public awareness of the vital roles pollinators play in our lives.  By declaring Pollinator Week in Kentucky, you will be helping to do exactly that.

Please consider joining this movement to protect one of the foundations of life that has been largely ignored. A sample proclamation is enclosed. Thank you for supporting the great state of Kentucky and its citizens through your advocacy for pollinators.

Becky Anderson

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baby Bee and a Second Super

What started out as a quick and simple trip to the hive quickly turned into a full Becky-Get-Your-Hat hive inspection.  I just wanted to check the level of sugar syrup in their feeder, but imagine my surprise when I found that the bees had started building "chimney wax" over the top bars of their frames.  Being that they still had about three outer frames left to draw out in the brood box, I wasn't expecting them to begin expanding upward yet.  Although there were still a few half empty frames, and the colony still seems small, I quickly realized that it was time to put on a second super.

I put on my hat and gloves and got to work.  I decided to do a quick check for beetles again, and it was during this check that I got my second surprise.  I was able to see my first baby bee trying to emerge from its cell in the brood comb.  It was really exciting to watch her chewing through the wax cap.  I'm posting a short video of myself and my partner Stewart totally geeking out to this.

Oh, and happily, I didn't find any beetles.

The beginning of "chimney comb"

Honey, pollen, and larva - all looking good.

The super clean "chimney" comb.

Look for this cell in the video below.  It's a baby bee chewing through its wax brood cap.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Busy as a, well you know ...

The girls were really active today!  Of course, this activity came only after the day warmed up (we topped out around 75 degrees).  I took the opportunity to shoot a short video of activity at the hive entrance and you can see how a guard bee is wresting with a dandelion puff in the door way.  I'm happy to see them so active.

My apologies in advance for the lower quality due to the videos being taken on my iPhone.

Same video, in slow motion.

The Beetles - and I don't mean Paul, John, or Ringo

Hive beetles.  Tiny, annoying, indestructible hive beetles.  Today during my routine hive inspection I found three of them along the bottom board.  I was able to smash two and flick one into oblivion (I hope).


Being that my colony is still small (this Sunday marks three weeks since I installed them) I went ahead and placed an order for a product called Beetle Jail.  The Beetle Jail installs on the top bar of the hive frame, and I picked this type of trap because it seemed to be the easiest for me to handle while working the hive alone.  If you research traps on the internet, you'll find that there is some heated debate over the Beetle Jail trap versus the AJ Beetle Eater trap.  Both are top bar traps, but the AJ Beetle Eater requires more vegetable oil (the beetles fall into it and drown) and some reports said it was messy and harder to manipulate.  On the other hand, the most frequent con to the Beetle Jail trap that I saw was that the bees sometimes fill its openings with propolis.  This should be fairly easy to remedy with a quick cleaning during regular hive checks.  I'm hoping that since I caught the beetles relatively early, they won't be much of a problem. I want to keep my hive as "organic" as possible so non-chemical problem solvers are my preferred choice.

Additionally, I ordered a constructed hive top feeder with floats today.  The girls seem to LOVE inside feeding, so this new piece will make it easier for me to refill their feed without really disturbing them.

Much to my chagrin, the weather will be cold again over the next few days, however, I was at least able to refill their current feeder.

Beyond that, the bees were still working to draw out the outer brood frames with wax, the inner capped brood seemed to be progressing normally, and the workers have been storing pollen like mad.  I also noted a few cells on the outer frames now have eggs in them, so that is very promising.

The eggs are the "rice grain" items that appear in the bottom of the cell.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Forage Map

While browsing the Internet today, I found a really cool scientific chart about what blooms when in Kentucky.  What I really found cool though, is that this chart was made by NASA.  If you've got some extra time and interest, you should read through the other pages on the website.  It was very informative, and let's just admit it, it's pretty comical to think about space bees.

Baby bees!

What a difference a few days can make!  We didn't get the rain showers called for this weekend, and the dry days seem to have given my colony the break they needed to go out and get some business done.

Yesterday my mom stopped down and was interested in seeing the colony so I suited up and took her out to break down the hive.  Much to my delight, there was a beautiful pattern of brood, pollen, and light colored honey on the inner brood frames!  Additionally, the bees were busy drawing comb on the outer brood frames, which signaled to me that Catherine the Great has no intention of slowing down now that she's in prime production.  I also noticed some "fanning"by the workers to distribute the queen's pheromones (known as queen substance).  This is good because it keeps the colony happy and workers fanning it can signal that the queen has had a successful mating flight ... which means, BABIES (and sequentially more respect from the colony)!

Look at all the pollen surrounding the brood!!

This photo has it all: capped brood, larva, nurse bees, pollen legs ... whew!
A closer view of larva in the upper right corner.
"Woman, what do you think you're doing? Get over here and pet me!"

After seeing how busy the bees have been, I had a good laugh at myself for being so worried.  As seen above, they are doing just fine and seemingly thriving.  Silly me!

Friday, May 4, 2012

She's not dynamite with a laser beam ...

... but my colony seems to like her well enough.  Yes, I'm using lyrics of a Queen song to refer to my queen bee Catherine the (not so) Great.  Yesterday we had a break in the cold and rainy weather, so I was able to get out to my hive and inspect for brood again.

The good news is that a few nurse bees were actively tending to larva and there was some capped brood present.

The bad news is that my colony still remains small, and my queen's laying pattern looks a lot like this Jackson Pollock painting.

That is to say, my queen is practicing interpretative laying.  Rather than a neat pattern of brood cells evenly laid across a frame, there are a few cells on the front, a few cells on the back, a few cells in the middle, and seemingly for good measure, a cell or two waaaaaay far away from any of the other cells.  As far as I can tell, the colony is not building supersedure queen cells, but I'm beginning to worry that Catherine the Great may be a drone laying queen.  In simple terms, a drone laying queen is one that due to the bad weather (or other factors) was unable to take the normal "mating flights" in which she gathers drone sperm to fertilize her eggs (and thus produce female worker bees).

I hope I'm wrong though.  I've read where new queens in new hives can sometimes be very random in their laying pattern (or lay drones only) for the first month or so.  The capped brood was in its early stage, and no tell tale "puffiness" of a drone cell was present yet. Since our forecast calls for more storms over the weekend, it will be several days before I can get out to check the frames again.  Perhaps Mother Nature will be nice and only give us a very brief shower.  While a drone laying queen may be a potential obstacle, to their credit, the colony is drawing out some really nice wax comb.

One final item of interest from my inspection is that the sugar-water feeder that I moved into the hive a few days ago was EMPTY.  I'm talking picked-up-their-plate-and-licked-it-clean empty.  Apparently an inside feeder is the way to go.  Perhaps this will encourage the girls to be more active.  Assuredly, I noticed several worker bees returning with lots of pollen on their legs!

Two bees "dancing" to communicate the location of a good pollen source.
Just hanging out in the morning sun.
Worker bees returning with two types of pollen.
First, the center bee returns with a lighter colored pollen.
Next, another bee returns with darker pollen.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Still Lazy

"Girls, when are you going to get moving?"  I found myself asking that question often today as I checked the hive for brood.  We had cool weather again (a high of 53 degrees) and a hard rain yesterday.  Even though I waited until the afternoon to go out and open the hive, my bees were still just balled up being lazy.  They seem to be drawing out beeswax, which is a good sign, but apparently not much more beyond that.  Compared to Coyote's colony, they seem very, very, very small and sleepy.

My main goal of checking the hive today was to verify that my queen had begun to lay brood.  It wasn't very sunny, so I had a hard time actually seeing any larva.  However, I do believe I saw a few in the frame nearest to the middle (where I had installed the queen cage).  It also appeared that the few larva present had jelly surrounding them, however, there were too few larva present to see any sort of laying pattern.  In light of the bad weather we've been having, it doesn't surprise me that the queen seems slow to mate.  The hive isn't acting as if they've rejected her, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she wasn't eaten by a bird or something over the last few days.

While out working the hive, I also decided to do a little equipment rearranging to encourage the colony to stay strong.  Chiefly, I placed their supplemental feeder directly inside the of the hive.  Previously, it had fit into part of the entrance reducer, but the bees still had to exit the hive in order to obtain sugar syrup.  I wanted to make sure they were able to access high quality food despite all of these stormy days.  The bees also seem to be continuing to eat the pollen patty, so I'm taking this as a good sign.

It appears that I'm stuck waiting on warmer weather before any real excitement happens.  In the mean time, I plan to continue rereading several of my favorite bee books (and taking a nap or two myself).

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bee Math: 1 + 1 = 4

Today I spent the late afternoon and evening observing my unofficial beekeeping mentor Coyote and "helping" him install what was to be his second hive.  I say "was to be" because at the end of our adventure he has potentially ended up with four hives.

In his words, "I'm having an interesting bee problem. So, I was SO SURE that the big hive (hereafter known as the Green Hive) was queenless. They acted crabby, there were no eggs, no larva, and the brood comb was being filled with nectar. So I order a queen. Then the queen isn't shipped as soon as expected and then I find she'll be here even later than I thought. I get worried that the colony will get all PO'ed and take off.  So, today, I pick up my 2nd package of bees to start my second hive (the Dragon Hive, since Ivy painted psycho dragons on it). I also am convinced to buy an extra queen just in case the ordered one doesn't ever show up. And that if she *does* show up, I can just make another hive by taking some bees from the Green Hive. Cool beans.  WELL. I get home, and with help from Becky, we install the new colony. It goes smoothly. Then I open up the Green Hive. And what do I find??? Larva and eggs. Lots of them. There is a freaking queen in the Green Hive. I mean, what? So, not only do I have this unexpected queen, I have this extra queen sitting on my kitchen counter, AND I have a queen in the mail.  I'm going to make a third hive with the new queen I have and bees from the Green Hive. But I'm baffled as what I should do with the queen being shipped. I can't cancel the order - she's already coming. I would make a fourth hive, but I don't any more hive boxes. I could probably cobble something together Sunday, since she won't arrive until Monday. But ... I just abruptly went from one hive to four!!"

While he may end up with more hives than he was originally aiming for, it was interesting to hear him discussing splitting the hives and queens with NKY beekeeper Jack Hunt.  I also enjoyed getting to work with his established hive (the Green Hive) and thought it was really fascinating to look around, manipulate the frames, see brood, and use a fume board to take some early spring honey.  We spent a majority of time in the established hive since the new package install went so smoothly.  Rather than dumping the bees, as we did with my install, we simply set the opened package in the brood super and installed the queen cage.  Coyote keeps Italian bees, and it will be interesting to compare their temper, over wintering, and honey production to my Russian bees. 

Inspecting the queen cage.
Opening the travel box.

Helpful dog is helpful.
Discussing the action plan.
The only downside of the day was that I received my first sting as an "official" beekeeper.  To be fair to the bees, I wasn't paying close enough attention and was standing in front of the established hive's entrance.  A bee on the grass crawled onto my foot and stung me after I started walking.  My foot is still a little sore, but the sting wasn't nearly as bad as I remember them being when I was a kid.   I hate to admit it, because the bee had to die in order to sting me, but seeing the stinger still pulsing after it had been ripped from the bee was interesting.  Understanding the sting mechanism and how it continues to function independent of the bee is a topic I find very ientesting.  How Stuff Works: Bee Stings

My sting. Never mind that the arrow is bigger than the actual sting.

Being that I only have one hive as a new beekeeper, I feel lucky to have been able to work in an already established hive.  While it isn't "technically" hard to work with bees, understanding their "language" is essential.  During our visit, Coyote's bees went from indifferent, to irritated, to just plain mad, then back to not caring again.  Handling yourself with calm and knowing when to walk away are skills that will no doubt take time to develop.  With bees, practice truly does make perfect.

Opening the Green Hive and really getting to work.

Full frames!

Rhett is working hard!
New spring brood on the frame.
Coyote is letting his bees draw out their own comb without a base.
Beekeeping is so tough!