The nucleus hives are finally gone!

This is a cause of celebration.  Each year we offer to the public a limited number of nucleus hives, four frames of brood, bees and a laying queen.  The underlying reason for our doing this is to keep our hives from swarming.  By removing several frames of bees and brood from a donor hive we can limit the number of hives that swarm each year. It also does not hurt to get new beekeepers started on their journey.

Selling nucleus hives is not without troubles: unexpected hard freezes causes brood death, workers abscond, queens fail to return from their mating flights or return to the wrong hive.  It is just hard work.  I sometimes wonder if they are more trouble than they are worth.

The trick is getting the hives up to the necessary strength at the same time, and every year it is a trial.  It is done however, the new and not so new beekeepers have picked up their hives and we wish them every success.

Annual Honey Bee Health Inspection Finished

The honey bee lives in close contact with her sisters. The bees must be very clean because any disease that enters the hive will quickly spread from bee to bee.  In short order, the colony is sick.  Some diseases are extremely deadly to the hive.  The worst is American Foul Brood or AFB.  Untreated, AFB will quickly kill all the hives in an apiary.  It will quickly spread to other apiaries in the area.  AFB is the bubonic plague of honey bees.

Laws in every state require colony inspections.  If a bee is to be sold or is to cross state lines it must have a certificate of health.  This is not government run amok, rather state bee inspectors identify and isolate disease that would cripple the commercial beekeeping industry.

Well, the bee inspectors came to see us today.  For several hours, they went through our hives making sure they are healthy. Thankfully, Hunter Apiaries was given a clean bill of health. 

Best of Virginia 2013

For all our friends who follow our journal, we have a bit of a surprise for you.  We have known for some time we were going to be in Virginia Living's Best of Virginia 2013 issue.  It is now out.  We have a very complimentary write up on page 98  It is almost a quarter page!  It has a picture of me holding a frame of bees over a hive.  For my beekeeper friends, the picture was taken in very early March.  That was a very strong hive for that time of year.  Kind of a testament to the cold hardiness of our bees.

I would like to add the photograph was taken by Esther Turner Photography. It was so cold the bees were very unhappy to have their hives open.  They were somewhat defensive.  For Esther to use her camera properly, the bee veil could not cover her face as it should.  There was a very real chance she would be stung multiple times. This is never pleasant. Yet she continued to work with upset bees buzzing around her head.  Esther has our sincerest thanks.  We only wish she could have been properly credited for the photograph. If you would like to hear (and see) more about her experience click here to visit Esther's blog.

When will it stop raining?

One of the challenges of queen rearing is the weather.  After a queen emerges from her queen cell, she will spend several days gaining strength and orienting on her hive. If the weather is good, she will fly, mate, return to her hive and start laying eggs.

There is a problem when the weather is not good. For a queen to mate, the temperature must be above 68 degrees.  For the last month, it has been too cold, wet, windy or raining.  The virgin queens just cannot get out to mate.  If they do fly and get caught in the rain, they will not come back.  

This is very frustrating for everyone.

Welcome to Hunter Apiaries!

We hope you enjoy our website. In the days and months to come, Hunter Apiaries will share their reflections on the season.   We will be happy to answer questions that might "bee" of interest to our readers.