Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Waiting for Mary

It has been slightly over two weeks since the last inspection. In that time I have stopped feeding both hives. Neither sugar water or pollen patties. That is because of the more that sufficient rain & Autumn pollen bloom. The fields near the house are loaded with Fall flowers.

I've taken to sitting beside Mary after work watching her girls come & go. What a difference. She now acts more like she did when she was healthier. The number of foraging bees has increased dramatically. Though not many younger bees bobbing up & down learning the hive's location yet. Plenty of pollen being brought in too.

I'll do an inspection this weekend. I hope to find the new Queen doing her job. Or at least lots of brood in a good pattern.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Inspection 9/14/08

Mary & Myrina
Mostly Sunny

Myrina seemed as aggressive as usual lately. I swear smoke makes them angry not passive. I use pine needles as fuel. Have all year. It worked fine in Spring and still does on Mary. As soon as I smoke them from the top they come looking for me. As apposed to eating their honey like good little bees.

The colony had not yet drawn out the top super. For some reason I thought they had. There was plenty of activity right under the inner cover though. I did not go into the hive body. I left them a pollen patty on the excluder and closed her up.

It went the same for Mary. Activity under the inner cover but no drawn wax. Still if the new Queen took it will be awhile till they can build comb. I gave her two pollen patties. It takes them both a week to eat a single patty. I'm wondering what Mary will do with two of them. Plus she can use the help.

These pollen substitute patties are a pain. I make them from Megabee dry mix. I add Karo syrup, mix, let stand for a day, then freeze until needed. Even when frozen they will stick to everything. When I first tried to put one in a hive it became a tar baby. It was ten minutes before I got it, well most of it, in the hive. Wax paper didn't help at all. Crisco, I now know, handles it quite well. I take the paper off the patties and then just plopped them in the hive. Mere seconds now.

Both colonies also got their daily dose of 1:1 sugar water. Mary Always sucks down the light 1:2 syrup in a few hours. Myrina takes all day. So I give them both 1:1 now. They take it at the same rate. I don't know why Mary took the 1:2 faster. Maybe it has something to do with her bees being older in make-up. More older foraging bees less younger hive bees. I don't know.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Queen for Mary update 1

Three days after I put the new Queen into Mary It's time to take out the Queen cage. These bees have seen more of me lately that I'd like them to. So I pop off the top super, reach into the hive, grab the cage, & close it all up. Well not that simple. I did not secure the cage well enough so it was on the bottom. Plus they had made some nice Natural comb in those few short days.

Did they bees act any differently? To soon to tell. It will be two weeks before I check them again. Hopefully I'll find lots of brood when I do. So now I'll keep feeding both hives with sugar water & pollen patties.

I noticed the natural comb was not made of new wax. Not a surprise as there are so few brood. They recycled the wax from else where in the hive. It was yellow & filled with flecks of hive debris. I don't think it means anything much. They had a big space to fill and they're supposed to do that.

Next week I'll check to see if Myrina has finished filling her super with comb & honey for Winter.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

New queen for Mary

With what I've learned since Spring I now realize I should have done this sooner. The colony showed signs of being weak from the first inspection. Unfortunately I didn't know what I was looking at then. It came out of Winter with a weak queen. It seemed in May that a new hive bred queen swarmed with half the hive. I was ready to buy a queen then but the colony made a new queen before I did. Chalk that up to inexperience. They did well after that so I thought all was fine. Alas two months later the colony was showing signs of weakness again. I don't know what happened but something did. They had plenty of room. Two hive bodies & two honey suppers. The top of which they never fully drew out. I've seen no evidence of diseases or pests, except for the recent minor Wax moth infection. In the end though I still have a colony that may not make it through Winter.

So I ordered a new queen. Italian, and marked. I'm not sure about clipping them. Still reading on that. She got here a day before I thought she would. Good service from Rossman. A drop of water, a drop of honey. Pop the candy cork and in she goes above the few brood left.

Was there a Queen in the hive? I took out every frame and looked for her. Not only did I not find her but I found no evidence of one. A handful of capped brood and a few uncapped. No new eggs. I'll check on the condition of the new queen on Sunday and remove her cage.
Crossing my fingers.