The Queen

I took the day off Friday to try and stay ahead of things here in the farm. I mentioned recently, all three of our bee hives made it through this past winter, even though many local bee keepers lost several hives. 

You never know. 

In my case, I attributed their survival to that extra insulation wrap I had installed. (to mimic the insulation value a bee would find if they were living in the wild in a big hollow tree…ie. R8) 

Take all of this with a grain of salt..I am still a “new-bee”

One of my  goals this past week was to do what bee keepers call a “walk-away split”.  This is where you prevent your bees from swarming (leaving and never coming back) by removing frames of eggs, pollen, honey, and some nurse bees, giving the main colony more room. If you’re successful, you have another colony.  Bees instinctively  want to split (swarm) as we get into May here in Iowa, so I’m trying to beat the curve.

One of the “issues” I ran into as I went about trying to split the first hive was my vision.  I had a cataract procedures in February and tri-focal implants.  They are not all they are cracked up to bee. I’m not complaining. (at the moment) I lost  close up vision in my right eye completely, and have a massive spiderweb of “floaters” in my left eye. (blurry).  That’s a problem,because when you’re looking @ the frames from the hive, you’re especially looking for uncapped eggs or young larva.  Give you an idea how small those eggs are, the queen bee is laying up to 1700 eggs a day… 


All of those teeny, tiny eggs coming out of one bee. 

They are minuscule.   (One of my mentors suggested taking a magnifying  glass with me next time, which I am going to do).

Here’s what I saw on the 2nd frame I pulled up out of the hive:

(photo by others)

The queen! 

A “marked” queen. 

This was the hive I had bought last Spring.  Took me a minute to figure out what to do with her. I didn’t want to just sit the frame down and she get lost. 

Her hive is bulging at the seams with activity. Very healthy, active mother.

The third hive I checked, I had no intention of splitting.  No activity outside of the hive.  Last time I peeked in there a couple of weeks ago, there was just a small cluster of bees in the bottom right hand corner. 

I figured by now they  had all died.


The bees were still there, and I saw capped brood (that is developing new bees).  

I also saw this:

Another marked queen!  This was the nuc my mentor Jim had bartered with me last summer for some apples. 

Felt like Christmas morning in the hive.

Christmas in April.

Life is good. DM

This entry was posted in bee keeping, enjoying life, Iowa, life in the country, personal, self sufficient, Uncategorized, wisdom and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The Queen

  1. pkadams says:

    Great post! Happy to hear the beez and queenz are doing what you want them to do. I know zzzzzero about beez, so I will have to learn from you! Sorry that your eyes did not go as well as expected. Is there hope they will improve over time or is this it?

    • DM says:

      thanks for checking in PK! regarding my eyesight. I have a 3 month followup check up (June) the young Dr said the floaters “should” eventually go away..It is under the lens so not much they can do as I understand. I am waiting to send in my customer feedback/ paperwork, because @ the moment, I am not happy w/ the end result.

  2. Jane Fritz says:

    Very successful new-bee! Bravo, DM. Tri-focal lens replacements, yikes. Do you have to tilt your head at different angles to see at different distances? 😊

    • DM says:

      Hi Jane, No head tilting 😉 not sure how they (are supposed to) work. Still trusting the process that in the end, I will be able to read and not have chronic intermittent blurry vision in my left eye. You guys had bees on the farm correct?

      • Jane Fritz says:

        I hope your eye solution works for you, especially when you’re on a ladder! Yes, we had bees when we farmed. And our remarkably delicious honey supply lasted for years after we moved into town. But we never tried to overwinter them. I’m not sure that any of the beekeepers did here, at least then. There’s a reason why Gordon Lightfoot’s song Four Strong Winds includes the lines “those winds they sure blow cold a way out here”! Those would be mighty cold bee hives, even with the best insulation. 🐝 Maybe global warming will change that!

  3. LA says:

    That’s awesome. I really have no idea what any of it means, but your enthusiasm spills over!

  4. Deb says:

    We can start calling you the bee whisperer 🙂

  5. avwalters says:

    Bees! They do almost all the work, and we get to take great satisfaction from their efforts. Congratulations, beekeeper!

  6. valbjerke says:

    Oh happy days! I have never found a queen 😂. I do the walk away split and go back and check in four days for eggs – then I know where she wound up (usually in the split). It works though. 🙂

    • DM says:

      Now that totally makes sense….good to remember, because once these two marked queens are gone, unless I buy another nuc, there will be none to see. I have no plans on learning how to mark a queen, (unless I get really successful w/ starting new splits, and there isn’t as many bees to look through to find a queen. I’m afraid I will hurt them if I were to pick her up. I know what to do in theory…

  7. Joni says:

    It’s sounds exciting… I’m awaiting a jar of creamed honey that my friend offered to pick up at the farmer’s market for me this morning. This local guy has the best honey I’ve ever tasted and he just has the hives in his backyard in town. Never heard of tri-focal lens, I thought bi-focal lens were scary enough. Are they something you have to adjust to like transitional glasses? I’m not there yet for cataracts, but have had scary spider web like floaters. I hope your vision has improved.

    • DM says:

      How did the creamed honey taste? was there a special flavor? Not supposed to be any adjusting w/ the tri-focal..still trusting that the spider web stuff will dissolve, he said it should….the main DR mentioned in passing there is always Lasik to “tweek” it, but not something they would consider initially. I feel like I traded one blur (cataract) for another (spider web)…paid multiple thousands of dollars for the opportunity.

      • Joni says:

        The creamed honey was great… fact I’m having it on toast for a bedtime snack! Much better than the grocery store stuff which is mass produced. That’s interesting re the tri-focals. We have a local doctor here who charges 6-10K for special fancy cataract lenses with Lasik after, but when my mother (who is a painter) had cataract surgery a few years ago in London Ont. we asked the specialist who did hers his opinion and he told her to stay with the basic lens covered by our government medical plan, and that’s what she did, although she does need glasses for reading, she doesn’t need them for painting. We don’t have the trifocal here yet. I remember researching the bifocals a bit in the online forums, and some people were very happy but others were not. But I have friends who willingly spent the $10,000 (that would be for both eyes) and seem satisfied, but it’s a lot of money to spend if you’re not happy with the end result. Hoping your situation improves.

      • Joni says:

        PS. Re the honey taste, I don’t know why it just tastes better, but he also sells lemon flavoured honey and cinnamon flavoured, which I am curious about but have not bought.

  8. paulsprepping says:

    No bees, no world.
    Keep up the good word Doug.

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