Monday, October 11, 2010


It's been awhile since I've updated.  The Summer has been terribly busy and the bees didn't really produce honey again so my motivations were elsewhere.  I kept up with the bees just didn't post about it here.  Nothing major happened so no critical information was lost.

The few things that did happened are:
* The 2010 Package has been named 'Duchess'.  We meant to name her after she showed some personality traits.  I like to name the bee queens after some human queen with the same personality. During the interim we took to calling her Duchess; like an heir apparent before naming.  After a while it just stuck.  Her personality is great.  Mostly calm and very productive.  On days where Mary & Myrina are sitting on their respective porches Duchess is always flying and bringing in the goods.  She was slow to kick out the drones but I thinks she's still on Georgia time.  We will soon be into Winter which will be her biggest test.

* I pulled out all the Pierco drone frames from the hives early.  They don't work well with me.  One needs to have two to fill a spot, not one.  As you pull one out it needs replaced by another.  It takes awhile before the bees can fully draw it out.  Meanwhile drone eggs are being laid in whatever good cells it has. The queen doesn't jump onto the frame the moment you install it either; it can take a few days.  Yet, you need to freeze it every twenty days regardless.  I never had more then a fist sized patch of capped brood on a frame going into the freezer.  Which caused me wonder how many honey making worker bees weren't produced all this time?  However, these frames would be great in a honey supper.  Bigger cells equals less wax which equals more honey.  So I'll cut down the frames to fit into a medium honey supper for next year.

* As mentioned above the harvest was pitiful.  Only three quarts of honey.  The bees never drew out the frames in the honey supers.  One super had been drawn out the year before.  What little honey was still in it from 2009 was to draw the bees into the super this year.  It sorta worked.  They filled it some more but there were few full frames.  I don't know what the issue is but we can not currently produce honey.  Maybe its the excluder or their temperament or the plasticell or I just suck as a beek!  I don't know.

* Done with Plasticell!  It has qualities I like but the bees in Mary & Myrina do not agree with me.  This year I pretreated each frame with a extra heavy coating of their own wax plus a thick sugar spray.  But the bees just wouldn't go for it.  Which drives me crazy.  When I started all of this they took to the Plasticell I put in their brood boxes.  It replaced the old black comb left in by the farmer.  Very frustrating.  I've gone to crimped-wire now.  I also treat it with the sugar spray.  One of the reasons i like the rigid foundation is for spinning survival.  We had honey the first year.  All of it fell apart during extraction.  Oh well.  I'll reinforce the crimped-wire with horizontal wire too.  Did I mention that Duchess (the 2010 package) couldn't care less about the foundation.  I put a post extraction super on her to clean it out.  After a week of rain I pulled it off.  She had begun to draw out all the frames!  Good little bees...

* I began feeding all three colonies in September.  I gave each if them a gallon of 1:1 each week.  It scared me the way they would put down the gallon in under 24 hours.  We had a significant dearth here to start with but the girls have bee doing well lately on whatever is out there.  The 1:1 helped them finish drawing out a few frames replaced in June.  Now into October they're getting a 2:1 syrup.  It is crystallizing before they can take the whole amount.  I'll need to do something about that.  Still I only feed once a week.  A 50 lb bag equals 2 feedings.  That gets expensive fast at several feeding a week.  I'll assist for now.  A check of their stores this week will help me gauge how to continue.

* Varroa mites have not been a problem either.  Last Winter beat up everybody.

That's all for now.

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