Sunday, May 30, 2010

Checked the other 2 hives.

First checked the nucleus hive we got last Saturday.  They had lots of brood and had drawn out most of the frames.  i went ahead and added another deep, so they should have plenty of room to grow.

Next checked the old hive on the east side of the yard.  They had a few frames of capped honey, some nectar and NO brood at all.  Still plenty of bees wandering around (enough to leave them with 2 deeps) but I worry about the lack of brood.  Goal: get them a frame of young brood from another hive and if they're queenless, they can raise another.

So, I went back into the "big hive" and found a frame with all stages of brood.  I wasn't looking close enough yesterday to be sure they had young brood, but I found it.  Shook off the bees and put it into the hive with no brood.  (The workers can take an worker egg and raise her into a queen by feedng her more royal jelly.)  This also means that the big hive has a queen that's laying those eggs. :)

Now all 4 hives have queens or the ability to make one.  hopefully I can check back within the next month to see their progress.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

more bee work

Today I swapped positions of the large hive and the split that I made last Sunday.  The point of this is that all the foragers that are out at the time will come back to the same position that they came from.  This will increase the foraging force of the split and lessen the foragers in the big one. 

here's the bee math page from michael bush:

Caste Hatch Cap Emerge

Queen 3½ days 8 days +-1 16 days +-1 Laying 28 days +-5

Worker 3½ days 9 days +-1 20 days +-1 Foraging 42 days +-7

Drone 3½ days 10 days +-1 24 days +-1 Flying to DCA 38 days +-5

In the split from last week, I saw a capped queen cell, lots and lots of capped brood, and even some open brood.   I guess the brood must have been from eggs laid while it was still in the old hive.  They had a good amount of bees taking care of everything.  I didn't see any eggs or young brood, but I may just be too blind for that :)

In the big hive, I also found some open brood, and capped brood.  The open brood had some youngish ones, so that makes me think they have a queen.  Plus they were pretty docile and ignored me till the very end...  I didn't look completely through the middle deep once I found some open brood since I didn't want to disturb them that much.  All the empty frames I put in last week were almost completely drawn with fresh white wax.  Amazing!!!  Sorry no pictures.  It was too hot to dilly dally.

So, if I really want to make sure they both have good queens after this, I should wait to make sure that they have brood that came from eggs after the split.  The eggs laid on the day of the split (last Sunday) will all emerge from their cells in about 20 days.  So, I'll check back on both in 2 more weeks, to see if there's any new brood.  Or, if I want to wait for the queen in that capped queen cell, i should check back in 3 weeks.  She should be laying by then. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Finally got around to getting into the big hive. It's 3 deeps and they seemed packed and on the verge of swarming. (I usually checkerboard hives much earlier to prevent this, but life happens.) Found some queen cells: 1 open 2 capped. Moved all into new hive, hope I left the queen in the old one. Hopefully, the old queen hadn't taken off yet, but seems like there wouldn't have been so many bees hanging out if she had. If the stars align, I'll get back in there in a few weeks to make sure all's good. Homer got a nuc last night. So if this all works we'll have 4 hives. Pic above is a frame that hasn't been fully drawn. I don't use foundation, so it's up do them to do what they will.
Before smoking them... what a great sight.
See how white the new wax is? Sorry for the lack of photography skills, but using the camera with thick gloves and all that buzzing is tricky. They were extremely gentle considering how strong the hive is. Makes me think they are still queenright. (Bees w/o a queen get surly.) Yesterday Homer was mowing a spot for the new nuc (nucleus hive) and I stupidly walked over there and a bee from this hive stung me right on the forehead. (Plaintain salve to the rescue.) So, I was glad to see it was only the mower that they don't like. They are fine with me taking their entire hive apart :) More details: Most the brood was in the middle deep. Bottom was mostly filled nectar (backfilling the broodnest?) I took about 9 frames for the new hive with the queen cells and attached bees. Lots of capped brood and honey. Replaced them with empty frames in the old hive. Still some messy comb in the top deep which I can deal with once it's full of capped honey. Told Homer to keep his eye out in case it swarms anyway.
Update: I was reading Michael Bush's website: "Stop cutting out swarm cells. I read the books and I tried to do this when I was young, inexperienced and foolish. The bees soon taught me what a waste of time and effort it was. If the bees have made up their mind to swarm, do a split or put each frame with some swarm cells in a nuc with a frame of honey and get some nice queens. Once they've gone this far, I've never seen them change their mind. Of course the solution was to keep it from getting this far. Keeping the brood nest open while keeping enough expansion room in the supers is the best swarm control I've found. If the brood nest is getting filled with honey, put a couple of empty frames in. Yes, empty. No foundation, nothing. Try it. The bees will build some drone comb, probably the first frame, but after that they'll draw some very nice worker brood and the queen will have it layed up before the whole comb is even drawn or even full depth. You'll be shocked how quickly they can do this and how it distracts them from swarming."

Fortunately, the frames I took from the broodnest, I replaced with empty frames.

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