The honey bees arrived in the meadowfoam field the third week of April.
The beekeeper, Harry Vanderpool, is out in the field every day to check on them. Bees are his livelihood and passion so when I have a chance to learn about bees from him, I do!
One of the coolest things I saw was a bee being born. (Say that 5 times fast.) I even captured a video of it! It is 27 seconds and don’t take your eye off the “new bee” and listen to Harry explain what happens next.
Harry throughly looks over the hives every day to make sure the bees are doing ok and there are no problems. Since the weather has been cooler and the flowers are just beginning to bloom, he was providing some extra food to them so they do not go hungry. If a beekeeper is not due diligent a hive can die of starvation.
Where’s the Queen?
In one of the hives we reviewed there was no Queen Bee. This is the type of issue Harry looks for when reviewing the hives. A few clues triggered that the queen was missing.
- There were no capped over holes where new bees were growing
- There were several empty “queen cups” on the frames which indicated that the colony was trying to attract/grow a new queen.
- There were eggs in a few queen cups that the non-fertilized female bees were laying to try to make a new queen. This was a sure sign to Harry that there was no queen in the hive.
- Coolest Clue the bees made a different sound…while I could kind of hear the difference in hives, Harry definitely knew they were “buzzing” differently.
Harry has each hive marked to indicate when a new queen was introduced to the colony. A beekeeper cannot just “throw” in a new queen because there is a good chance the other bees will kill her. Bees have to get used to her pheromones.
The queens are kept in a separate contained box. The other bees on the be shelf are there to clean and feed the queen.
When Harry places the queen bee into a new hive, he places “candy” on the end she exits. The other bees eat this candy. By the time it is gone and the queen can emerge the colony has become accustomed to her pheromones and they accept her. Nature is cool.
Bees are the dogs of the insect world, according to Harry. They are easy and a pleasure to work with, just like dogs. In my opinion, this description is how you know when someone is passionate about their work.
Harry is also Vice President of the Oregon Beekeepers Association. He is active in educating farmers, foresters, legislators and the general public about bees. He takes a very practical approach when it comes advocating for honey bee health, which I think the majority of us can appreciate.
Read more about bees:
- Oregon State Beekeepers Association
- USDA Honey Bee Report (Good News)
- USDA study concludes neonics not driving bee deaths—As White House set to announce ‘bee revival’ plan’
- Starvation caused bee deaths, expert says – Harry is quoted
- It’s MomSense’s Bee Series:
- B Keeper’s Daughter – Harry’s daughter markets their honey