Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hive Inspection, Mary & Myrina, 8/31/8

Inspected both hives. Mary has had a rough year. She may not currently have a queen, inspected small top super and there is no honey, but they have begun to draw out some of the frames. The top hive box has honey and I inspected 75 percent of the frames and found no brood. The second and bottom Hive box, had honey and a week showing of brood. I had placed a mega bee patty in the hive last week, it was almost completely gone. they have been going through 2 quart jars of sugar water a day.
Myrina is very healthy. Inspection shows that they have drawn out the top super and have begun to fill with honey. The top Hive box was a beautiful mix of brood honey and pollen. The second and bottom hive box looked exactly like the upper one, with an even placing of brood and honey. The Bee patty was also gone. They , however, use less than a quart of sugar water a day.
Need to do something about the queen in Mary.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Old Wax

Old farmer Bob, who I bought the hives from, never used an Queen excluder. I know this because I melted down all the wax from the honey supers only to find them filled with brood cocoons. Wow! Well here's something else I didn't know about till now. They're like little silk liners in each cell. The problem is that they certainly soak up the wax. I lost much wax to these darn things. I wonder if I wrap up the cocoons in fine metal mesh, weight it down, and boil the wad if I'll get back enough wax to be worth while? My Wife make soap. She said bees wax is a major ingredient. So I want to get as much as possible.

The back pot is raw boiled comb. Cocoons and all. The front pot is filtered wax on water. I've had enough of the kitchen today so the rest of the wax is going to the solar melter tomorrow.
I'm so glad that I have excluders on both hives now. Next time I take wax it'll be so much more cleaner to start with. Which reminds me that I'm using Plasticell foundation. Well that's just in the supers that are permanent. So for all the honey supers I add next year I'll use only wax foundation. This may all work out yet.

Bee Ball

This morning I checked on Mary to see if all the bees made it back into the hive last night. Sadly there was still a good size ball beneath the hive. I will definitely need to check for a queen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Emergency honey collection

So I've decided to remove all the old honey supers because of the wax moth infection. Today I removed the remaining three supers. Two on Mary & one on Myrina. I spun what honey they had and pulled the wax. 43 lbs of honey & roughly 48 oz of wax. Thirty frames & three supers on the burn pile for tonight. I don't like that wax moth larva pupate in wood. I know freezing solves that but these frames are seriously old with many wax moth scars on them as is. It's time for them to go.
I had not planned to take the honey in these frames till the end of September. I fear the moth will only get farther into the hives and do more damage. Right now the damage is minimal & I'd like to keep it that way. I don't think any larva have pupated yet. There's no silk that I see yet either. Some frames are filled with capped honey. Some are about a quarter filled. Several Are totally empty. So it's take the honey that's here and be done with it.
As usual it's family fun day when we spin Honey. Had to deal with the occasional wax moth larva. They were quickly dispatched. My family spins Honey like they pick strawberries. One for you, two for me, one for you two for me... Plus the neighbors came over to help as well. It's amazing that I keep any honey at all.I noticed in Mary though that the bees were acting very odd. When I knocked the bees off of the frame they formed bee balls on the ground instead of flying back to the hive. Not for a few minutes but for the rest of the day into the night. Plus when I smoked the bees on top of the hive they did not retreat back into the hive. Instead they flowed, like water, over the edge of the hive. They bearded along the edge but eventually fell off. Grouping up with the other bees already on the ground. They're all under the hive now. Even as I brushed them off into the hive they 'flowed' over the top.
When I did Myrina every bee I brushed off a frame immediately flew back into the hive. They never formed a ball outside at all.
I have the feeling that there may not be a Queen in Mary.

To finish up I put a new honey super on Mary. Now each hive has two hive bodies and one honey super each. I'd like the girls to have an extra super of honey to get through the Winter with. As with all the frame i've replaced this year I use the coated plasticell in a wood frame. I wonder if that hinders the wax moth since there's no midrib to burrow through?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wax moth

Well, each hive consists of two hive bodies with two additional supers on top. I propped open the top covers a month ago to let the hives vent. I never screened them or anything. I made them both targets for wax moth. I'm sure they got into Mary first. She being the weakest unable to defend. The moth tried to get into Myrina too but she fought them off. Next year i'll make some screened vent covers to use.
I saw the worms in Mary during today's inspection. After some major reading I went to check Myrina. As I opened the cover two moths flew out. Not a good sign. It seems like both hive are infected. I was lucky enough to catch it early. The frames had not been webbed up yet. Only a few trails of frass could be seen in the comb. It doesn't help that these are still the old frames. I couldn't tell you how old they are either. The comb is practically black. Old wax, which those moths like so much.
So I'm upset. I essentially rang the dinner bell over the hives. Now I need to fix it. This is, however, a great opportunity. I now have an excuse to dump the old supers & replace them with new ones. One each for this winter and however many more they'll need next year for honey.
So I'll harvest what honey & wax is in the old supers. Three in all ( I already replaced one old super in July). Then burn them to put an end to the moth. I will also begin to feed the girls with food patties & entrance feeders. This way the open space will be reduced & the bees will be stronger.
I hope.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Hives

I have two of them & find it necessary to give them names. Hive one is named Marry after Mary I of England. Notice the profound lack of activity?

Hive two is named Myrina after Myrina Queen of the Amazons. Those guards are just waiting to nail something.

I got them from an old farmer who was heading into assisted living. He originally had ten hives. I bought the last two. He had a hard time keeping up with them over the past few years as his health failed. It was mentioned that no honey had been harvested in years. So they were established, but needing much in maintenance.

They initially only consisted of one hive body & two small supers each. All very old. Myrina got two new hive bodies, a new bottom board, excluder, & a new honey super. Leaving one old super on top.

Mary only got one new hive body, inner cover, & excluder. Which left two old supers on top. Next year the rest of her hive will be updated as well.

It is important to note that Beekeeping is new to me. My wife told me about the hives for sale and I said sure lets be beekeepers. The tale of moving events & the first inspection can be found HERE.

Mary is passive & never seems to produce enough brood. Myrina, however is very aggressive. I must put on the gloves just to change out the entrance feeder. She is healthy and good at making brood. Both are good for making honey.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Bee Log

I am terrible at maintaining a note book log. So I plan to make all my notes here. I have two hives and inspect about one a week. Plus there's all those lessons one gets from keeping bees too.