All posts by HoneyApple Hill

9mm Queen Cups

Based on an STL file I found on Printables I did some editing in TinkerCAD to adapt the file to my own purposes for this study. The stems are just a touch thicker and I added a notch under the skirt (because I could) to make it easier to get the corner of my hive tool under it to pry out a fully capped queen cell.

Using a Snapmaker 350 printer, I batch-printed 24 cups with black PLA filament so I can easily see if it contains an egg or not. The printing requires supports, but the cups pop out pretty easily. On the Snapmaker, with the settings I used, it takes about 8 hours to print a batch of 24.

I used the same original STL file to design the base only for the wax cups. Although it’s very tempting to keep churning out my own queen cups, I’m limiting the first run to 48. Once I know what the bees do (or don’t do) with them, then I can make further decisions about them.

I will make more bases for my wax queen cups from the black filament since I ran out of the white. I don’t anticipate the base colors to affect the queen’s use of the cups.

Northeast SARE LogoThis material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number FNE24-102. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Vegetation Management

In the fall of 2021 I experienced my worst robbing year ever. The goldenrod and knotweed came and went, the bees packed in the honey, the asters made their feeble debut. Normally cold temperatures quickly follow, a cue that keeps the bees tucked in tight and minding their own business.

Recently (and by that I mean the last two or three years), those feeble asters signal something else; a fall dearth with no brood and warm weather. With no brood to tend, and temperatures good for flying, all that’s left is foraging — right in each others’ hives. Feeding sugar syrup didn’t really help. Who’d want sugar water when there’s all this delicious honey to be had for the taking?

To address this, I’m testing some goldenrod management. If mowed, goldenrod will regrow and blossom, but out of step with the natural crop. Thus begins my experiment:

The first cut, made June 6. About 12 feet wide and at about 6 inches off the ground. I’d like to say it follows the apiary fence, but I simply didn’t walk straight.
The first cut a week later. I started a second cut to the right.
The second cut, June 14, has the same dimensions and follows the general path of the first.

I’ll do one more cut next week. If this works, this first cut will bloom after the natural goldenrod dies off, the second a week later, and then the third. I’ll track which cut gives the most growth and flowers, if I cut too early or too late, and search for a sweet spot to prolong my goldenrod bloom.

The other step I’ll try is to seed some Canada goldenrod, a variety that blooms later than the tall goldenrod common to my field.

The real metric will be: does this affect the robbing frenzy?

Not all goldenrod produces nectar for bees. If you’re interested in identifying goldenrod species in your forage area try this field guide (pdf)