Category Archives: Photos

Susquehanna University’s Observation Hive

Club members Dave and Joan recently visited Susquehanna University to assist Biology Professor Dr. Jack Holt in some spring maintenance on the university’s observation hive.  Here are a few photos:

 

 

Can I use soy wax in my hives?

Last month, I wrote about the benefits of adding a thin layer of beeswax to plastic foundation before using it in the hive.  The only downside to this technique, of course, is that it requires huge amounts of beeswax.  I only have a few dozen colonies and burned through my supplies of beeswax after coating less than 100 frames.

I could of course buy beeswax, but I had concerns that I might be introducing disease spores and pesticide residues into my colonies.  I also had concerns about my wallet — beeswax is expensive.

What about soy wax?    Soy wax is produced by hydrogenation of food-grade soy oil and would be safe to use in the hive.  It’s also super-cheap.  I decided to give it a try.  I purchased five pounds of food-grade soy wax for $8 shipped and applied it (using the same technique described in the earlier article) to a piece of Pierco black foundation in a wooden deep frame.   I put this frame at position 10 in the bottom hive body of a healthy colony and waited.

Results:  See for yourself:

After nearly two months in the colony, the bees have not drawn out any comb whatsoever on the soy wax coated frame.  On the reverse side, they appear to have successfully removed a small amount of the soy wax in a few locations.

The bees didn’t seem to be bothered by the presence of the soy wax.  They simply refused to build on it.

There’s no fooling the bees.  If anybody has any extra beeswax, let me know!

~Eric

Laying Worker, Caught in the Act!

While checking a weak nuc today, I caught this rare glimpse of a laying worker, caught in the act of laying drone eggs. She’s right at the center of the photo, with her abdomen in the cell.  (Click the photo for a full-screen version.)

If a colony loses its queen and is unable to rear a replacement, the absence of the queen’s many pheromones, along with those emitted by fresh brood, will cause a number of the worker bees’ ovaries to develop to the point where they can lay eggs.  Since a worker bee is unable to mate, however, the eggs she lays will be unfertilized and develop into drones.  It is generally understood that this evolutionary process developed because it allows an otherwise doomed colony to pass its genes on to future generations by way of the mating flights of these new drones.

~Eric