morrill hall, umn

I have been busier than usual with the-day-job. I was in Minneapolis yesterday; I headed out at 5:45 AM and returned home around 6:00 PM. Very long day, but the weather in Minneapolis was fantastic; it also happened to be Beautiful U Day at the University (not sure I have been clear – by day, I am employed by the University of Minnesota and work on the Duluth campus, but I frequently have meetings in Minneapolis, outside the day-job, I tinker with machines, tend hounds, tend bees, grow gardens and program esoteric computer things – like compostb.in – a compost-centric app for the iPhone). The non-day-job things ground me, and keep me relatively sane. Anyway, Beautiful U Day happened to have a really beautiful day. The tulips were blooming, the flowering crabtree in front of Morrill Hall and Northrup Auditorium was blooming (and smelled wonderful). With all the flowers in bloom, I kept an eye out for pollinators, but, unfortunately, I did not see any. Not even a bumblebee. Depending on your political leanings, you might blame Karl Rove, who happened to be visiting campus yesterday, or, you could blame the protesters who were protesting Karl Rove’s visit. Either way, I was slightly saddened by the lack of visible insect life on such a great day.

The drive home was uneventful and I was again disappointed – my favorite road-side fruit, vegetable and honey stand was not out hawking their wares in Sandstone, MN. The last time they were there, we picked up jars of jam, seed potatoes and 36 petunia plants. The stand is run by an older couple with a feisty little Jack Rustle. They are usually there from mid-April through October; if you are heading through Sandstone via I35, stop by – they are really nice people with a neat selection of generally-local stuff.

comb, mh italians

Back home, and now evening time, it was much cooler than in Minneapolis – I liked it, but the bees appeared to be less than happy with the high 40s, low 50s temperatures. There were, however, a steady, slow stream of bees leaving and returning to the hives. A quick check of the syrup buckets showed the Minnesota Hygienic Italians (herein referred to simply as the Italians) were nearly out of syrup. The Carniolans appeared to be more into seeking out a source of nectar from the surrounding environment – their pail was about half full, and their pollen patty has twice the amount left over the Italians. I whipped up a gallon of syrup (one part white sugar to one part hot water), and then suited up to open up the hives.

The Italians were on me like insert-some-stereotypical-italian-american-thing. I opened the hive cover, took off the top super, and lifted off the nearly empty feeder pail. The inner cover was lifted off and a large explosion of bees were quickly in my face and clinging to my face-net. A few puffs of the smoker at my face and on the hive and the spicy Italians started to calm down.

There was bridge-comb being formed, but most exciting, there was capped comb and if you looked very carefully, larvae could be seen in uncapped cells. It is really exciting to see all the activity in the hives. No sightings of the queen(s) this time, but with the finding of brood cells is a good sign that she is doing her thing. The interior of the hives (more so with the Carniolans) was also a bright yellow. This shows the workers are finding sources of pollen other than the pollen patties; likely dandelions at this point in the season. They should also be using the dandelions as their first source of nectar.

The Carniolans had a couple pieces of bridge comb forming, but, more importantly, they, too, were tending to the draw out of wax and there were a large number of capped cells and uncapped larvae, too.

In parting news, I spoke with the neighbor closest to the hives location; he seemed less than concerned about having many thousands of bees near by. He gave us two or three pails worth of raspberry bushes, and said when he gets onion sets, he will give us some of those too.