Inside the Hive: Views from a First Year Beekeeper (Scene 1)

As a first year beekeeper, everything is new and exciting and, quite frankly, I find myself yammering on to anyone who will listen about the comings and goings around my bee yard.  My intention is to capture images from in and around my hives this year and post them here for others to enjoy.  I’m neither a great photographer nor a bee expert so I hope that we can exchange some tips, ideas and knowledge along the way.

My first image is a close-up of newly drawn comb on a frame of wired wax foundation.  This particular frame was installed a week earlier than this photo was taken and that itself is a testament to the industrious nature of the worker bees.  All those cells you see in the picture (and those on four other frames) were created in seven days.  In a week, the bees created a lot of wax and sculpted it into the comb you see here.  Fascinating, huh?  Nearly uniform in size and shape, this comb is the result of chemical processes within the bee’s body to convert food (such as honey or sugar water) into wax and then a physical manipulation of that wax.

I wanted to point out a couple of things from this particular image that I think are noteworthy.  First, the orange-brown globs in the cells are pollen.  The foraging bees collect this and bring it back to the hive in their “pollen baskets”, which are located on their hind legs.

Also you’ll notice a variety of  coloration on these bees.  These bees are from hive #2, which is from an established nucleus hive I purchased from my beekeeping mentor.  Unlike the Italians in hive #1, which were from a package and are of more uniform coloration, the bees in this hive are bright orange, and yellow and grayish and dull yellow.  The queen has mated with a number of drones and since they all have slightly different “bits” flipped in their DNA and pass a bit of that along, you get variation, which is a very good thing.  I like my “mutt” bees in hive #2 and think it is interesting to examine the slight differences among them.



Read all of Matt’s Inside the Hive Posts here

Matt (twitter @MattInTheGarden) slings code by day and plays the role of handyman on his family’s hobby farm in Virginia.  He makes his own Greek yogurt and enjoys time with his family.  He is horrifically bad at the banjo, a mediocre juggler and can make a pretty good omelet.  His black lab mix thinks he’s pretty nifty too.

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