Ben has been beekeeping for just two years; he already has an impressive collection of hives. I'm a total newbie to beekeeping. I just bought the Flow Hive 2, so I was very grateful to have the opportunity for a little hands on beekeeping experience. I met Ben through our local beekeeping association. We both agree on having as natural hives as possible. Ben says he treats his bees, not with chemicals, or pesticides, but with TLC and love. He's a strong believer that a smaller bee is a healthier bee.
Prepping the smoker but honestly, I'm not sure we even needed it. Ben's bees seem very happy and relaxed. He says it's more of a hello to say he's there. Safety gear Ben recommends long light colored clothes, and a hat with a vale. I wore gloves as well. He says protecting your nose and eyes is crucial and I totally agree.
Busy bees bringing home the pollen. A small entrance to the hive helps the guard bees inside protect the hive from honey robbers. The bees didn't mind me getting close to the hive as long as I stayed out of their flight path which is Southwest. Ben noticed that the bees don't seem to like to harvest pollen from the close by flowers. He was right, honey suckles were right outside of the hive and they just seemed to fly right by.
Here's a worker bee sticking her butt up in the air to release a pheromone. Some of the other bees came up to check what she needed and report it back to the colony. Clever little thing realized the roof had gone missing. Queen bee pheromone smells like lemongrass and the alarm odor from the workers smells like bananas. I didn't get close enough to notice what smell this bee was making but Ben says she was releasing her pheromone to help guide the bees back to the hive. If bees are always attracted to you maybe check if any of your skin care products contain lemongrass, they might think you are a queen bee.
Look closely and you will see baby bees in their cell.
These brood cells looked different from the other cells. Ben explained that the round one was a drone cell, a male bee, and the biggest one was a queen cup, it didn't contain an egg or any royal jelly. We were nearly through the entire hive and still had not spotted the queen but with the last couple of frames to inspect she showed up. She's the one with the red dot marked on her back.
A swarm! I couldn't believe my luck, a swarm happened in a different hive behind us. Bees swarm when the queen leaves the hive. There may even be more than one queen in the swarm Ben says. A swarm is the healthiest part of the hive that leaves when they have outgrown their current home. He had a few empty hives on hand to capture this swarm.
Looks like more bees for Ben!