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    • Amanda Gilliland

      Homemade solar wax melter--better than burning electricity to melt old combs. Bees beekeeping

    • Bill Huhman
      • 3 years ago

      All this thing is, is a used tulip crate clad in 2" styrofoam with Saran wrap as a cover until I get around to getting a piece of plexiglass--although, for the money, the Saran wrap looks pretty good. Temps get up to 160, but I do have it sitting in the greenhouse, so ambient is 85 or so even on a cool day. Best part is, it works!

    More from this board

    Homemade solar wax melter--better than burning electricity to melt old combs.

    They were tending to the new queen as she cut herself out of the queen cell. I've never seen this before, let alone gotten a picture of it. Bees ignore emerging workers; obviously, Her Majesty is a different matter entirely.

    I was checking a hive that had a queen due to emerge soon when I saw all of these bees in a ball--not generally a good thing to. see. The next pic shows what I saw when I brushed some of the girls back

    From my hives yesterday--the little brown thingies are varrora mites, related to ticks. They reproduce on pupae, so to check for them we open some cells. They can kill a hive by fall if not dealt with in time.

    She's the first new queen of the season, and her workers are happy to see her. She murdered 3 other queens, but that's life in the hive for you. She will continue maturing for a few days, then mate on the wing and start laying eggs.

    I made several nucs (half-sized hives used to start queens and small colonies) from packing crates a local company was ready to throw in the trash. There were lots of staples to pull, but they turned out pretty decently.

    Queen cups on the bottom of a brood frame. Am I raising queens or #honeybees??

    This was my first attempt to start queens using this method, so I only did 5. Pros will do 30 or more at a time. We put the frame into a small queenless hive with a gazillion nurse bees, who are frantic to create a new queen, for 24 hours. No other suitable larvae are in that hive, so when these are inserted they immediately treat them as queen candidates and begin to feed them. 24 hours later the frame is transferred to a strong colony with a queen, where the nurse bees finish raising them.

    The tiny larva is in that bit of wax inside the punch. Another way to do this is by scooping the larva out of the cell, but my old eyes prefer this method.

    This is how I transferred the larvae to their new location. The punch is heated in hot water so that it melts through the large frame, which contains larvae 12-24 hours post-hatching: REALLY tiny things, like you can see in one of the other pics in this album. I carefully remove the cell...

    Same cells on Monday, one day post-grafting. They've already extended the cells quite a bit. The one in the other two pics is the second from the near end.

    The new queen-to-be is inside this mass of wax, which is a single long queen cell surrounded by excess comb the bees have deposited simply because they can't stand having empty space in a hive. One of her sisters' cells has already been capped, out of view on this pic. I took this shot on Thursday, after having transferred the larva on Sunday. It's amazing how fast they grow!

    One of the miracles of Nature is how bees without a queen will create one from a "common" worker larva. Beekeepers use this fact to raise queens when they need them, as I'm doing here. Inside that cluster of bees is a prospective queen, being gorged with royal honey. She'll emerge as an adult in another 11 days, ready to mate and found a new hive.

    This is a mite on a bee pupa, inside a capped cell. These guys will increase until they kill the hive if not dealt with.

    Since the queen typically starts laying in the center of a frame and moves out, brood of varying ages radiates out from the middle in a spiral. From the right, this comb has eggs, just-hatched larvae up to larvae ready to pupate, and sealed brood, or pupating young. From right to left, it takes about 21 days for worker bees to go from egg to adult.

    The ladies have really been packing in the pollen with the recent warm weather.

    This flowering bush was buzzing today as the bees kept coming back for more nectar and pollen. I wish I knew the name of the bush...

    With the unusually warm weather this March, the bees are building up rapidly. This queen has already laid several thousand eggs this season.

    The queen surrounded by her court, by Yours Truly - from

    Bees on their orientation flight.

    Backyard beehives.