This has been a weekend abuzz with bees. However, I'm pretty tired, so I'm going to only write about the second bee event of the day. Stay tuned for the photos from the Spring Workshop of the Mount Diablo Beekeepers' Association.
Yesterday Robb and I caught a swarm of bees near Jack London Square in Oakland. And today we gave those bees to some folks we met through the Alameda County Beekeepers' Association. Because Robb and I had gotten our bees through other people's generosity, we wanted to return the favor. A few months ago, I announced that I wanted to give bees to some beginners, preferably someone who lived nearby.
Laurel and Gerry (pictured above) "parked" a hive box on our hive, and the bees (eventually) built honeycombs, laid in stores of nectar, and started raising young bees in their box. Last night, Robb and I shook our bees off of the frames in Laurel and Gerry's hive box, and populated this box with the swarm bees. This way, the swarm bees get a great home, with a well-stocked pantry, and babies on the way who will help around the house. Everybody wins!
Tonight, we had Laurel and Gerry over to our place, to "walk through" the hive, before they took it home.
I opened everything up, and they got to see bees in action. I gave them an hour-long talk about my version of beekeeping. When I first started out, another beekeeper did this for me, and I consider that one of the most valuable experiences I had as a new beekeeper.
One of my beekeeping goals this year is to get better at spotting queens. I'm really horrible at this, having never seen any of my own queens.
And would you look at that! It's the queen from the swarm! Do you see the large reddish non-stripy bee, walking on top of some of the other bees? That's the queen! (Click on the photo for a larger version of the photograph.) Since this is the second swarm to land on the same spot, it's safe to suppose that this queen is almost a newborn. Young as she is, she may or may not be a virgin. Robb was speculating that this queen might have made what's politely referred to as her "nuptial flight" in our back yard. Who knows, maybe she got lucky with one of our drone boys. That would be great, really, because our bees are so vigorous, and we'd love to share their genetic material with other beekeepers.