Thursday, April 15, 2010

Inspection 4/15/10

75 f

***A special Thanks to Sherry who found the queen for marking and is planing to hive her first package of bees next week.  A round of applause for my awesome neighbor and new beekeeper***
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3 reasons for going into Myrina today:
  1. To mark the queen
  2. To check the drone frame
  3. To look for swarm cells
And to clarify the brood boxes:
  1. Current top box = Old frames with old, dark, natural comb
  2. Current bottom box = Newer Plasticell frames, mostly drawn out
The bees Winter cluster was in the box with the Plasticell frames.
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Upon taking off the cover I found a colony of small black ants on the inner cover.  There were different sized ants & a winged one or two.

 HEY! we're zoned for a single family home.  No duplexes!

They didn't like me letting the light in and they really didn't like me dumping them on the ground.  I'm sure they were attracted to the sugar in the HTF; it has crystallized.  So I removed the HTF.  I'll clean it and have it ready to use for the package that arrives on Saturday.

Looking through the frames was alright.  5 frames in the top box have brood, 3 in the bottom box.  Queen Myrina was on frame 5.  The brood patterns look spotty right now.  The forum people say reversing the brood boxes was stressful to the bees.  They also say wait a week or two and the pattern should be back in good order.  So Ill be watching that and reading up on reversing brood boxes.

The marking went quickly & easily. I used the little plunger tool Dadant sells. Worked great. When I put it over her she climbed up into it. Then the plunger immobilized her while I marked her with the pen.  It only took a few seconds.  A light touch of the tip to her back and a small drop plopped out.  Yet more paint came out than I wanted; a single drop goes a long way apparently.

-The image below shows how a very small drop can cover the Queen's entire back-

Myrina Unmarked

It's light blue when there's no Sun glare

The president of our bee club recently lost a queen to marking paint.  He used an older pen.  He said when he marked her a pool of paint came out and completely covered her.  The blob of paint killed her quickly.  Heeding his warning I was as careful as possible.

 Ideally Myrina should be requeened  later this year.  This will make it much easier to find her when that time comes.
Checking the drone frame was easy too.  They hadn't touched it.  It had been placed on the edge of the brood nest before I reversed the boxes.  Since then the bees have moved back up into the new top box.  The brood in the now lower box are hatching out but the queen isn't laying down there.  So the drone frame hasn't had any attention placed on it.

I replace it with another drone frame that had been rewaxed.  I didn't think about it at the time but I should have put the new frame next to the active brood nest.  Instead I put it back where the old one was.  The queen is laying plenty of drones in the bottom corners of the frames in the top box.  
I have yet to find any drone cells made on the Plasticell frames.  So far they're all in the natural comb frames.  I'm curious to see if they will do that or not.
I really don't want to see any swarm cells right now.  I have one good colony, Myrina, one weak colony, Mary, and a package on the way.  Which means Myrina is the only colony that can make surplus honey for me this year.  If she swarms there won't be any honey for us.

Fortunately I didn't see any in this inspection.  If they do make some I'll toss them in the nuc.  I can use them to requeen Myrina and maybe the other colonies too later this year.  It was a very hard Winter so populations are down.  I feel it will be awhile before swarm cells pop up.  We see...
Hive-wise I'm still trying to change out the old frames with new ones.  Last year was a bust since the bees weren't making much comb.  I removed 2 old frames from the sides of the top box & added 2 new rewaxed Plasticell frames.  I also replaced an undrawn Plasticell frame, from last year, with a new rewaxed Plasticell frame in the bottom box.


Cassandra said...

I always reverse my brood boxes in the spring and fall and IMHO it helps the queen, giving her space to move up again.

Hemlock said...

This was the first year I've done it. But they moved back up into the top box immediately after. I think I should have waited until the majority of frames in the top box were full before i reversed. I'll watch to see what she does after she fills the current top box. I may end up reversing again if she doesn't move down on her own. But, if she doesn't and stats making swarm cells I have a nuc standing by for queen rearing.