Friday, January 15, 2010

Inspection 1/15/10

57 F

The second fly-day in a row a good time to check the bees. This is my second Winter with bees so one might think it would be easier on me but it's not. I think last Winter I was too inexperienced to know what was happening. Fortunately it was a mild Winter. Yet, this year Winter has been very harsh and I now know just enough to be worried all the time, Ha ha. The girls just spent a month in cluster with daytime temps in the 20's. However, next week's forecast calls for lows in the 30 & highs in the 50's. A warm spell sure would be welcome.

First a quick note about Mary- Weak, under productive, & limping along. SBB (closed), Single Deep, IC, Vent box, & T-cover.

Now back to the inspection. Approach at mid-day, bees flying around the hive. Veil and gloves but no smoker today. Much more evidence of cleansing flights today than yesterday. Good thing I'm wearing the veil. A cloud of bees takes to the air as I remove the T-Cover. A couple hundred bees had congregated inside the vent box above the IC. Yet i still see several bees holding on to one another as if they're still in cluster in the IC opening. Once that comes off i see where the majority of bees are on the top of the frames in the middle of the Deep. Not a great amount of bees, population somewhat low in numbers but I still think they'll make it

For orientation I stand behind my hives and number left to right; more or less. Frames 1 & 2 are still filled with capped honey as are frames 9 & 10. Frames 3 & 8 have capped honey corners and partial pollen filled centers. Frames 4 & 7 are 2/3's empty. Frames 5 & 6 are too busy with bees to check. I replace the frames in this order: 3, 4, 2, 1, 5, 6, 10, 9, 7, & 8. Bees on moved frames were brushed onto 5 & 6 to keep them together. Then it all got put back together. I'll replace the empties with full ones soon. I figure the bees will bee balled up in the middle for now anyway.
*Moisture & Condensation. -Again with the puddle of water in the hive. They did this last year too. So over Summer I replaced the solid board with a SBB. I added a Vent cover above the IC with 1.5" holes in it. And all the wooden ware is new. Not much water probably several table spoons worth resting on the luan beneath the SBB (and dripping out the back!) . The T-cover was dry. The IC was dry. As far as I can tell the bees were dry. So why is there water puddling in rows beneath the frames? 8 out of 9 vent holes were closed off so I opened one more, left side, to increase ventilation.
Water leaking out the through the closed SBB ^
Two puddles on the left side beneath the SBB ^

*Heating. Passively that is. -The vent box is 2.5" tall. Heat escapes upwards of course so this box draws heat away from the cluster. To fix this I bought some foam insulation to fill the box. I'll leave enough room, or channels, for the humidity to escape through the vents though.
Vent box currently ^

*Dead bees. -2 kinds of dead bees. The ones that are still standing where they were in the cluster when they croaked. And, of course, the bees that starved head first in a cell. Very few dead in the cells. More dead from the cluster locations.
All dead ^

Starvation ^

Then there's this bee. I believe she wandered away from the ball during a warm spell. Found a whole frame of honey to eat. Then didn't make it back to the cluster before the temperature dropped at night. Poor girl.

(click to enlarge) ^

I did not get into Myrina as I ran out of time. I'll try to inspect her within the week. Although Myrina almost never has any problems.

aun Aprendo


Anonymous said...

Polar: Sorry to see that you lost your one hive. My friend, Lynn (her blog is Walter Bee) who keeps bees in Cashiers NC lost a hive this past week too, starved to death it seems. I know it must be tough to baby them along and then lose them like that. Alas just one of the chances we all take. Maybe one of these days when you make the trip to Tightsqueeze (better known as Chatham) to Dadant, I'll come up and say hello! I need to go pick up some things pretty soon.

Polar said...


Did I make it seem like they're gone? I'm sorry. I'll re-edit the post. They're still here. Their population isn't great but the cluster is still between a grapefruit and a volleyball in size. I hope i don't lose them. From the forum at Beemaster it sounds like I'll be adding dry sugar now. Plus I'll start them on pollen in 2 weeks as well.

Sorry to here about your friends bees. You're right of course. We take that change but it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

I re-read and it was my mistake, sorry. I see where some of them died. My apologies. I've got some pics coming of mine. I tried to get some of the frames out and it was impossible, but could see that frames 1 and 2 and 9 and 10 had honey gone. The middle frames were stil good, but I can see that feeding will come soon. If the weather will hold for another couple of weeks I'll check then and add feed if necessary. Have you used dry sugar before? Wondering how that does for you. I can throw a hive top on but if the temps are going to freeze it, no good to them or me. Let me know.

Kevin Braun said...

Enjoyed reading your post - nice pictures.

Polar said...