Mackinac Bridge - Saint Ignace Side
Mackinaw Bridge, from the Saint Ignace Side

We are in Troy, MI, at the moment; attending Michigan Basset Rescue’s annual fundraising event. We left Minnesota at 3:30 AM CDT yesterday morning. Across northern Wisconsin and into Michigan’s upper peninsula, we rolled across the Mackinac Bridge nine hours later. Upper Michigan has the same look and feel of far-northeastern Minnesota – very rural, paved roads but mostly single lanes, scenic overlooks, and poor cellphone reception. It is very pretty in that rustic, pine-bog way – comfortably familiar to those of us who grew-up and continue to live in the boreal forest region of the upper midwest (see Taiga).

Here, in lower Michigan, it is more low, rolling hills mixed with farmland and deciduous forest. Near the hotel, I spotted a black walnut tree (and empty shells). On the hotel grounds, all the flowering crab trees are in bloom – complete with their wonderful smell.

Before leaving Minnesota, much had to be done with the bees.

During the winter, when planning out this season’s bees, I had planned out eight new hives. The two at the house were still doing well, and so, we were not going to have do anything new with them. One of the two at the house failed to make it through winter (as I have mentioned on this blog before). I put in a second order for a package of Italian workers with a Russian queen.

Fifth Avenue Farm, Carniolan Queen
Fifth Avenue Farm, Carniolan Queen

Last week, one of the newly installed packages of eight at the Ahrens’ bee-yard, swarmed. This left down one package. However, the second order of a package of bees was arriving on this past Tuesday. That would suffice for the Ahrens’ bee-yard, but it still left us short one hive at the house.

As it would have it, Theresa, of Fifth Avenue Farm, in Rice Lake township, in a bit of a panic, ordered a new Italian queen. She was worried that one of her new hives of Carniolans was in the process of beginning to swarm; she could not find the queen. I stopped out at the farm on Tuesday after installing the package at the Ahrens’; The queen was there (see bee photo), and the rest of the hive was working hard to bring in nectar and pollen – not getting ready to swarm.

This left Theresa’s Italian queen still arriving on Thursday. We settled on the idea of making a split of the Italians that wintered over successfully and using Theresa’s queen.

In between packing for the trip to Michigan, we began to get things ready for the queen’s arrival. Mixed a pail of sugar syrup; loaded dog crates into the truck. Cleaned out a hive deep, selected four drawn frames of wax; loaded luggage and miscellaneous hound gear.

Italian Queen in mailing package
Italian Queen in mailing Package

We had never made a hive split before. For those unfamiliar with this concept, it is basically take a number of frames with bees, comb, pollen, honey and all that from an existing, strong overwintered hive and putting them into a new hive with a new queen.

With the truck mostly packaged, and the arrival of the Italian queen in its fancy "Beeware!" box from the postoffice, it was time to get a split made and the queen installed. The donor-hive was stronger than I had thought it was be; three hive boxes full of bees, larvae, pollen, and honey. From being a struggling hive last May; needing to be requeened because of no queen and a drone-laying worker. We even combined the hive with a feral hive shortly after last season’s requeen.

The split went well, and it is a just a matter of seeing if the queen and workers mesh well once the workers free the queen from her candy-cappedcage. We will have to check once we return to Minnesota.

Ill Gertrude
Gertrude, under-the-weather, with a fever

Back here in Michigan, senior-hound, Gertrude, fell ill. She was lethargic, refused food and was running a fever. Luckily, this being a large gathering of dogs, there was a dog-doctor in the house. A visit from the doc, a few pills, some homeopathic treatment, and Miss Gertrude is doing better. Her fever broke, and she ate dinner; now she rests and sleeps.