Solo [The Sanctuary] Readying The Bees For Spring Queen Rearing

Kavala does some hard work to get into her hives, test, and determine which hives will provide her bloodstock for Queen Production.

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Built into the cliffs overlooking the Suvan Sea, Riverfall resides on the edge of grasslands of Cyphrus where the Bluevein River plunges off the plain and cascades down to the inland sea below. Home of the Akalak, Riverfall is a self-supporting city populated by devoted warriors. [Riverfall Codex]

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[The Sanctuary] Readying The Bees For Spring Queen Rearing

Postby Kavala on February 28th, 2016, 8:30 pm

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Late Winter, 515 AV


Kavala had been talking to Collin Fallingsun lately. He was the Beekeeper that had gotten her started into Beekeeping. Their main topics of conversation where often about breeding better bees. Where they differed in opinions mainly fell with what they considered better bees. Collin liked aggressive bees. They seemed to do better, in his mind, than the more docile bees Kavala preferred. He took the stand that the aggression transferred over to many other behaviors that were important to bees. For example, colonies of honeybees in his Orchards that fell to predators could often fend off raccoons and bears as long as they were re-queened with more aggressive queens. The queens would transfer that attitude to the colony and it would defend the colony better.

That was the thing about beekeeping though. Half of it was mental. The bees basically kept themselves. The art of being a beekeeper was observation, small corrections, and knowing ones bees. Kavala got to be the beekeeper she was halfway because she was busy observing and studying her bees to know them better and now she’d have to design tests to rate them. They weren’t in the same scenario Collin’s bees were. Hers had a unique situation.

Kavala preferred to shelter her bees away from the temptations of predators. And she felt, rather than aggression, other behaviors were far more important like hygiene. Hygienic bees groomed off some of their attackers – like mites – and kept their colonies more safe than aggressive bees did. Collin had valid points, but Kavala was more scientifically minded and strongly felt hygiene, grooming, perhaps shorter brood development periods, longer periods spent as adults, brood pattern, brood viability, temperament, and resistance to predatory insects like mites might be a great deal more important than aggression. And ultimately for her, honeycomb production and honey production itself was more important than anything.

Collin’s bees were in place to fertilize his orchards and thus increase fruit production. He was delighted with honey, but it was a secondary concern to him. Hence the reason he liked aggressive bees. His bees got his pollination done. Kavala understood that. But their divergent agendas had her worried about where she and other like-minded beekeepers were going to get their Queens. Getting them from Collin meant that she’d have to deal with the aggression. She simply did not want to deal with it. So because of the source for local queens having such a differing opinion, that meant there needed to be another source.

Kavala intended to be that source. She knew the basics for breeding bees and raising queens thanks to Collin. However, his selection methods and her selection methods were going to be different. She’d breed for the traits she wanted to breed for, aggression not being one of them. And to that end, she needed to select colonies to be the donors for her queen breeding and rearing program. To select said colonies, Kavala devised a few ‘tests’ to perform on her hives to see which Queens stood out with the traits she wanted. She had extensive notes on temperament already, so that wasn’t a problem, but for the rest of it, there needed to be true tests.

And once she’d selected said breeding stock, she’d start raising queens that were gentle yet extremely hygienic which were good producers of honey and incredibly clean in terms of grooming and dealing with pests. Kavala had started with five hives a few years ago. Not counting losses during the winter months nor losses to disease, and after she’d split or captured swarms, Kavala had ten strong hives. Collin had more, but then his initial stock pool was far larger. The Orchards required hundreds of hives between the fruit and the grapes. Her bees, however, served a different purpose. She used the honey. She used the beeswax too. So Kavala sat down and made a list. She already had file cards for each hive, ones that fit into a small wooden box that kept records on when she inspected, when she harvested honey, etc. But now she needed to plan so much more. Now each needed a new card and on those cards would be ratings.

Hive Number: 1-10
Hygiene: % hygienic
Brood Viability: % of Empty Cells out of 100.
Temperament: Gentle, Acceptable, Aggressive
Brood pattern: Good, Fair, Poor
Grooming: Observed Y/N
Brood Development Periods: Long, Normal, Short
Resistance To Pests: Pest Load Test



Kavala nodded in satisfaction. Now, to devise a test for hygienic Behavior. That was the hard part of beekeeping. How to rate the hive? How to manage it? These tests would be core to her operation, for sure.
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Last edited by Kavala on February 28th, 2016, 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The Sanctuary The Sanctuary Forum Riverfall The Cytali
Reverie Isle Wolf Creek Training Course
Please Note:
  • This pc is maxed out in Animal Husbandry, Medicine, Observation, Rhetoric, and Socialization.
  • Kavala a Master Teacher. Students she is teaching in thread can earn more than the maxium 5 XP per thread.
  • This pc has a Konti Gift of Animal Empathy. She has a superpower from a Riverfall city event that allows animals of all sorts and Kelvics (in kelvic form) to speak clear understandable Common around her.
  • Kavala is a Konti but was raised in the Drykas culture so her accent is entirely Pavi though she can speak Common, Pavi, and Tukant well. She's only conversational in Kontinese.
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Kavala
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Posts: 3022
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Joined roleplay: October 25th, 2009, 1:46 am
Location: Riverfall
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[The Sanctuary] Readying The Bees For Spring Queen Rearing

Postby Kavala on February 28th, 2016, 8:32 pm

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Kavala sat and thought about it. What constituted hygienic behavior in bees? Was it about how clean they kept their hive and how could that be tested? She tapped her ink quill on her chin and thought about how she’d observed bees behaving. They kicked intruders and dirt out, often ferrying pests and sticks and anything foreign that got into the hive. But what else did they do? The Konti thought about what she’d observed this winter and she knew on warm days the bees ferreted out dead bees that had died of cold or old age as well. They did that with brood that had died in the cells too. The Konti frowned, thinking controlling what went into the hive was difficult because it could be so variable. But what if she systematically killed several of the already capped brood then kept a record of how fast they discovered the deaths and cleaned out the cells? That would be an accurate measure wouldn’t it?

Kavala nodded and put her quill down. She carefully sanded her notes to dry them and then went to gear up. She took a long hairpin with her, intent to use it to kill brood behind the capping. She felt a little bad about being in essence murderous to her bees, but she needed to know how good the queens were going to be doing.

She decided that if she had frames from each hive of newly sealed brood, puncturing them with a fine pin would kill the larva beneath. If she then punctured in a pattern that was easily recognizable, like say an X or even a flower shape, she could come back after 24 bells and see what sort of clean-up had been done. If she replicated this under different conditions of temperature, weather, etc then she could record a % of the cells that were cleaned. 100% would be best. But she decided a score of 90% or 19 cleaned out cells or higher would be adequate for the selection of a breeder source for her queens. She decided that completely uncapped and utterly cleaned out was the only qualifying factor to her selection.


This would really mean the colony would have a good track record of cleaning up after mites, foulbrood, and chalkbrood which were all conditions bees in Riverfall could fall prey too. Those things always killed brood that was capped.

So she went systematically from hive to hive, pulling frames and instead of the X, Kavala pin pricked a flower pattern meaning she killed one brood then killed all the brood surrounding it. That made seven brood killed in a flower pattern. She repeated this three times on each frame for a total of 21 dead per side per frame. In twenty four bells she’d know how clean the bees were. And she did. The return trip yielded 9 of her hives were hygienic with two more failing with having only 18 and 16 cells cleaned out prospectively.

Kavala easily discarded those two ‘failing’ hives, glad to have at least eliminated some of the hives from her breeding program.
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The Sanctuary The Sanctuary Forum Riverfall The Cytali
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Please Note:
  • This pc is maxed out in Animal Husbandry, Medicine, Observation, Rhetoric, and Socialization.
  • Kavala a Master Teacher. Students she is teaching in thread can earn more than the maxium 5 XP per thread.
  • This pc has a Konti Gift of Animal Empathy. She has a superpower from a Riverfall city event that allows animals of all sorts and Kelvics (in kelvic form) to speak clear understandable Common around her.
  • Kavala is a Konti but was raised in the Drykas culture so her accent is entirely Pavi though she can speak Common, Pavi, and Tukant well. She's only conversational in Kontinese.
User avatar
Kavala
I am more than the sum of my parts.
 
Posts: 3022
Words: 3290117
Joined roleplay: October 25th, 2009, 1:46 am
Location: Riverfall
Race: Konti
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Medals: 19
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[The Sanctuary] Readying The Bees For Spring Queen Rearing

Postby Kavala on February 28th, 2016, 8:34 pm

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The next thing Kavala wanted to test for a few days later was brood viability. She’d observed in honeybees that for some reason when a queen completely filled a frame with fresh brood, the moment one of the eggs hatched it was eaten. This happened over and over again. She knew that probably meant something was wrong with the eggs or they were somehow born deformed. The Konti didn’t know how the insects knew, but somehow they just did. So when this happened a lot, it caused spots of empty or dead cells in an otherwise beautiful brood pattern. Kavala knew some hives did this more and some did this less though again the mechanism why failed her.

She wanted her breeder queens to come from the hives that had less spotty brood patterns than others. And so she devised a rating system, again a percent, to see how each of her hives rated. The trick was measuring a section of the comb and since comb was five sided, a perfectly square section wouldn’t work. But a square section angled one direction or the other in the form of a parallelogram would. So she had Ialari make a small wire parallelogram frame that was open on the inside and pushed to the right just long enough to frame ten cells up and down and ten cells crossways. Then, putting it randomly on a frame and ignoring the rest of the cells outside of the frame she could see exactly how many cells out of a hundred were ‘spotty’ or not viable in a frame of fresh eggs.

The Konti decided she wanted 90% viability just like she wanted 90% cleanliness. So she went about checking, the first frame showing that out of a hundred cells, thirteen of them weren’t capped and were empty.
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100 - 13 = 87% viability which wasn’t acceptable to her.


It was close, but decidedly not good enough. If she didn’t get enough over 90 from her other hives, she could use the 87% for sure. So carefully, Kavala went and tested each fresh frame of capped brood on each of her hives and got five of the ten over 90. That eliminated five more hives, six actually, since one was of the hives that had fallen short on the hygiene test as well.

Kavala gave that a few minutes thought. It wasn’t a perfect science, but it was a definite ability for her to measure more quantitative facts about her hives and make decisions for their futures. Kavala demanded perfection and there was ways to get that in animal handling and breeding. One just had to keep good records, take fantastic notes, and lean on one’s intuition great deal to get the job done. Kavala thought she’d also talk to Collin about her results, and maybe compare the tests she’d designed for them with perhaps ones he did on his own and see where the differences were. Maybe he had better techniques. Kavala hoped her mentor would be impressed with her ingenuity though. And with those thoughts, Kavala decided to move on and test temperament.
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The Sanctuary The Sanctuary Forum Riverfall The Cytali
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Please Note:
  • This pc is maxed out in Animal Husbandry, Medicine, Observation, Rhetoric, and Socialization.
  • Kavala a Master Teacher. Students she is teaching in thread can earn more than the maxium 5 XP per thread.
  • This pc has a Konti Gift of Animal Empathy. She has a superpower from a Riverfall city event that allows animals of all sorts and Kelvics (in kelvic form) to speak clear understandable Common around her.
  • Kavala is a Konti but was raised in the Drykas culture so her accent is entirely Pavi though she can speak Common, Pavi, and Tukant well. She's only conversational in Kontinese.
User avatar
Kavala
I am more than the sum of my parts.
 
Posts: 3022
Words: 3290117
Joined roleplay: October 25th, 2009, 1:46 am
Location: Riverfall
Race: Konti
Character sheet
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Scrapbook
Plotnotes
Medals: 19
Featured Thread (1) Trailblazer (2)
Overlored (1) Master Merchant (1)
Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
One Million Words! (1) 2014 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)
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[The Sanctuary] Readying The Bees For Spring Queen Rearing

Postby Kavala on February 28th, 2016, 8:35 pm

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In Kavala’s mind, temperament was easy to determine. She had worked her ten hives over and over again, so that meant she knew them. And though there was one that was considered aggressive – she left it in the far medicinal garden – all of the others went through and could be determined as either acceptable or gentle. In someone like Collin’s case though, where his hives were all together, it was hard to tell which bees were from which hives. His hives were not like Kavala’s, divided up among many small gardens and courtyards. Instead his were lined up together in clusters of 10 hives throughout the orchards and vineyards. The Konti thought that would prove difficult figuring out which bee was from which hive unless…

An idea came to her and she laughed. A simple butterfly net would do. All she had to do was take a swath of angry bees out of the sky around her with a butterfly net and then cinch it down until the mass of writhing bloodthirsty creatures were confined. Then, through the mesh with a very fine paintbrush she could dab them with paint – something bright like a red – and let them go. In order to settle them down she’d have to cool the air around them and make them lethargic. But once they were warm again, she could release them and they’d fly back to their colony. Then she could open all the colonies and look for the red paint. She was certain most of the angry bees would be in one or two colonies condensed. Then one could note that hive as angry.

Kavala smiled, pleased with her own cleverness, and decided there was so much more to learn about beekeeping even though she considered herself at least competent, if not an expert. It was satisfying raising them, caretaking them, and then making sure they provided for her needs in return.

Moving on after she’d filled out all her note cards with which hive was gentle, acceptable, or aggressive, After her marks on the hive notes, she still had five candidates to choose queens stock from. Kavala knew she needed to denote brood pattern now. But brood pattern wasn’t a hard thing to measure, for sure. Any experienced beekeeper knew what good brood looked like.

When one pulled frames from a hive, a good solid brood pattern looked like a golden rainbow across the frame, thick and wide. At the top the rainbow had another layer to it that was paler, almost white, and that would be capped honey. Beneath, in bright colorful pockets making up the inside of the rainbows arch, would be pollen stored by type in the spaces that were lower and thus colder in the hive. All Kavala had to do was go into the hives again, perform a hive inspection, and check for pattern.

She did that next. Kavala knew she’d been working her bees a lot the last few days but also knowing it was for a good cause. She worked one hive at a time, carefully spraying them down with her plant sprayer filled with sugar water. Once they were good and damp she pulled a few frames, examined the pattern, and found that of the five left to pick from, three had excellent patterns and two had good patterns. Kavala checked the rest just to be sure and make notes on her cards, but all in all narrowing ten down to three was a positive sign.
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The Sanctuary The Sanctuary Forum Riverfall The Cytali
Reverie Isle Wolf Creek Training Course
Please Note:
  • This pc is maxed out in Animal Husbandry, Medicine, Observation, Rhetoric, and Socialization.
  • Kavala a Master Teacher. Students she is teaching in thread can earn more than the maxium 5 XP per thread.
  • This pc has a Konti Gift of Animal Empathy. She has a superpower from a Riverfall city event that allows animals of all sorts and Kelvics (in kelvic form) to speak clear understandable Common around her.
  • Kavala is a Konti but was raised in the Drykas culture so her accent is entirely Pavi though she can speak Common, Pavi, and Tukant well. She's only conversational in Kontinese.
User avatar
Kavala
I am more than the sum of my parts.
 
Posts: 3022
Words: 3290117
Joined roleplay: October 25th, 2009, 1:46 am
Location: Riverfall
Race: Konti
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Scrapbook
Plotnotes
Medals: 19
Featured Thread (1) Trailblazer (2)
Overlored (1) Master Merchant (1)
Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
One Million Words! (1) 2014 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)
2013 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1) 2012 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)

[The Sanctuary] Readying The Bees For Spring Queen Rearing

Postby Kavala on February 28th, 2016, 8:36 pm

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Having gotten busy at the clinic, it was a few days later that Kavala could check for the last few things on her list. She wanted to know how bad the mite load was in her hives and how well the bees groomed each other. Collin had let her in on a trick about it, something absolutely unharmful to the bees that would work well to see if they groomed and again how bad the mite load in the hives were.

Collin had told her to grind down sugar into fine power. Then sift the powdered sugar over the open hives, coating all inside until it was white. He claimed that she could then witness how well the bees groomed each other. It sounded like a brilliant plan to her. Collin also claimed, however, that bees groomed mites right off, so that if a hive had a high mite load and he sugared the hive, then he could get them to groom the mites off themselves on their own and these mites would fall to the bottom of the hive. Kavala knew if she lined the bottom of her hives with parchment paper – just a thin piece coated with something sticky she could then capture any fallen mites and count to see how many were in a hive.

The idea was brilliant and Kavala took a small field trip to gather some materials and make the sticky paper in her lab. (See [The Sanctuary] Fatal Attraction) Once she was done there, she headed to her kitchen to grind up a five pound bag of sugar into fine powder. That took quite a bit of effort and made her wrists store by the time she was done. One did not just pour five pounds of crystallized sugar into a mortar and began grinding. One had to do it about a cup at a time which was time consuming if you were trying to powder the whole entire sugar supply in the same session.

Finally she was done and she was able to head back outside and start the experiment.

When she returned with her sticky paper that would not hold bees, Kavala slipped a sheet inside each hive bottom and then took out her sifter full of powdered sugar and liberally dosed each hive until the hive itself turned white on the upper frames making it look like it had snowed on them. Kavala then observed and noted if the bees ignored it, were drawn to it, or groomed. Most began to groom immediately in each of the hives and she gave them high scores. Not surprisingly, the aggressive hive groomed the fastest and most thoroughly which was just as Collin had theorized. The more gentle hives were not exactly the fastest groomers, but they still cleaned each other and worked on taking up the sugar. Kavala was thoroughly fascinated.

She waited the whole day after her observations and then pulled the paper out of each hive, clearly marking it with its hive number. Once it was out, Kavala sat it aside and with a hand held magnifying glass began to look for mites. They were easy to spot and count. Some hives were heavy with them, some had virtually no mites that were stuck to the bottom. In the hives that were good groomers, she knew that the lack of mites meant there was a low parasite load. In the hives that were poor groomers, there was less certainty. There could have been a low mite count to start, but Kavala also suspected they were less hygienic and thus got less mites off each other.

Kavala made careful notes on the mites and their counts. Then she compared the other factor taking all her categories into account. And when she was done she had two hives that were clear winners for taking eggs from and making queens. She’d use both, of course, and run two batches of queens and see which did better. She still had to create the cups, graft them over, raise them and see if they made it back from their mating flights to be successful queens. Only time would tell.

3,094/43,775
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The Sanctuary The Sanctuary Forum Riverfall The Cytali
Reverie Isle Wolf Creek Training Course
Please Note:
  • This pc is maxed out in Animal Husbandry, Medicine, Observation, Rhetoric, and Socialization.
  • Kavala a Master Teacher. Students she is teaching in thread can earn more than the maxium 5 XP per thread.
  • This pc has a Konti Gift of Animal Empathy. She has a superpower from a Riverfall city event that allows animals of all sorts and Kelvics (in kelvic form) to speak clear understandable Common around her.
  • Kavala is a Konti but was raised in the Drykas culture so her accent is entirely Pavi though she can speak Common, Pavi, and Tukant well. She's only conversational in Kontinese.
User avatar
Kavala
I am more than the sum of my parts.
 
Posts: 3022
Words: 3290117
Joined roleplay: October 25th, 2009, 1:46 am
Location: Riverfall
Race: Konti
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Scrapbook
Plotnotes
Medals: 19
Featured Thread (1) Trailblazer (2)
Overlored (1) Master Merchant (1)
Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
One Million Words! (1) 2014 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)
2013 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1) 2012 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)


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