Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fumagilin & Screened Bottom Boards

Today the colonies received their last treatment of Fumagilin.  Fumagilin-b is an antibiotic that controls the disease Nosema, or bee dysentery.  The disease usually occurs during Winter while the bees are unable to release bodily waste each day.  The weather is too cold for the bees to fly outside to relieve themselves.  So they stay in the cluster and must hold it in for months sometimes.  If they get Nosema the bees can no longer hold it in and can make a big mess inside the hive.  Plus the stress of the disease can weaken the colony and lead to it's demise. 

In Fall each full hive gets 2 gallons of medicated syrup per twenty frames.  Last week they all got their first gallon.  Two colonies were given only one gallon since they are only ten frames in size; Myrina & Nuc #5.  The Fumagilin is put in a heavy sugar syrup, 2:1 sugar to water.  That's eight pounds of sugar in about two quarts of water.

Crystallized sugar after one gallon of 2:1 syrup
This time of year the bees will take it down in one to two days.  There is some crystallization of the sugar in the Hive Top Feeder.  To fix that i toss a quart of warm water into the feeder afterward.  It dissolves the sugar and the bees then take it down too.

Also it's time to close all the Screened Bottom Boards (SBB).  Some beeks leave them open but i close mine.  I think it helps the bees brood lower in the hive.  Slatted Racks aid that as well.  Myrina's SBB was replaced with a regular BB with a solid bottom.  Mary & Nuc #5 also have the solid BB now.  Heléna & Melissa both have the closed off SBB.  As does that little September swarm i haven't been talking about.

The next steps toward Winterization will be the final Varroa check & treatment if necessary.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hive Inspection 10/17/11

NUC #5

The only nuc i have left and the first one i have ever tried to take through Winter.  She is from a wild hive and may be Survivor bees.  They have about finished their one gallon of 2:1 syrup medicated with Fumagilin.  Since they are a nuc that's all they get.

Top Box DNB2: frames
1 - Backfill, honey, empty
2 - Mostly drawn, backfill, SHB (1)
3 - Mostly drawn, backfill
4 - Backfill, honey, SHB (1)
5 - Mostly drawn, honey, backfill

Bottom Box DNB1: frames

1 - Solid Honey
2 - Honey, backfill, brood, pollen
3 - Honey, backfill, brood (eggs) - QUEEN (marked)
4 - Honey, backfill, brood
5 - Honey, brood, pollen, backfill

Bees on all the frames of the bottom box
Population seems to only be fair.  I'd like to see more bees in here.  They have four frames with brood and that's a good thing.  Honey stores could be higher too.  There are a couple of feedings left so hopefully that will do it. 

Queen of Nuc #5 (Mab).  Sorry for the blurry pict
At least these bees know to move the brood nest to the bottom box.  I wont have to manually move them down like the others.  I will also need to insulate this nuc and get a HTF for warm weather feeding.


Hive Inspection 10/16/11


Heléna looks great.  Lots of brood, honey, & pollen.  A few SHB's but they're everywhere now.  Heléna was the last Georgia package i will ever buy.  Lots of people around here are blaming the Georgia apiaries for transporting the SHB to us in out bees.

Top Box DHB2: frames
1 - Solid honey
2 - Honey & backfill
3 - Honey , backfill, brood
4 - Honey & brood (eggs) - QUEEN (marked)
5 - Honey & brood
6 - Honey & brood
7 - Honey & backfill
8 - Honey & backfill
9 - Honey, backfill, pollen
10 - Honey & backfill

Bottom Box DHB1: frames

1 - ½ Drawn, honey, backfill, empty
2 - 4/5 Drawn, honey, backfill, SHB (2)
3 - Honey & backfill
4 - Honey, backfill, pollen
5 - Honey & backfill
6 - Honey & backfill
7 - Honey, pollen, backfill
8 - Honey, pollen, backfill
9 - Pollen, honey, drone cells (2)
10 - Pollen & drone cells (2)

Heléna's Bottom box
Her population is where i like to see it at this time of year.  It was mighty high a month ago but they never got honey bound then swarmed.  This is actually the only package i have.  The previous one didn't make to last Winter.  She requeen via swarm a while back.  The new (local) queen has done well.  This colony also had Myrina's nuc combined into it.  Which did well and really helped the Georgia girl.

Queen Heléna - She's a quick one, hard to photograph

- - -   - - -   - - -

Melissa has a mother and sister in the neighbor's apiary.  Both are doing very well.  Melissa could be doing better though. Too many empty frames.  These frames weren't empty before.  It happened as the bees relocated the stores around the brood nest and the cool weather has caused some clustering.  Which may have used up some the stores. 

Top Box DHB2: frames
1 - empty, backfill, honey
2 - Honey & backfill
3 - Honey & backfill
4 - Backfill, honey, brood
5 - Brood (eggs), honey, backfill
6 - Brood, honey, backfill
7 - Brood (eggs), honey, backfill- QUEEN (marked)
8 - Brood, honey, backfill
9 - Honey, backfill, some brood
10 - Honey, pollen, backfill

Bottom Box DHB1: frames

1 - empty
2 - empty, ½ drawn
3 - empty
4 - empty, ½ drawn
5 - empty, ½ drawn
6 - empty & backfill
7 - Backfill, empty, 3/4 drawn
8 - Backfill, pollen, brood
9 - Pollen, backfill, 3/4 drawn
10 - Pollen, honey, backfill

Empty frames but lots of bees
Her population seems fine.  The bees are busy every day.  Why the bottom box is so light i don't know.  I don't want to break her down like i did Myrina.  Nor do i want to combine the two of them.  I'm in this stage where i want to maintain the most amount of genetic diversity in the yard.  I think I'm in denial about losing a strain.  To combine Myrina & Melissa would mean one of the queens has to go; it would be Myrina.

To remedy her issues i will exchange her empty frames with ones that have been filled with syrup.  It will add some moisture to the hive in cold weather but that location is a dry one.
The framed comb from beneath a medium frame
The bare comb that was framed with rubber bands did OK i guess.  All of it was attached to the frames but none of it was completely drawn out.  It worked but the bees ran out of time it seems.

Queen Melissa
Seven frames of brood is the best in the yard.  She really means to make it.  With enough stores i wouldn't worry but she'll need some help.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hive Inspection 10/15/2011

Slight Breeze

Mid-October is the traditional time for final inspections before Winter.  Both colonies have received one gallon of 2:1 syrup medicated with Fumagilin.  The second gallon will be fed to them in the next day or two.

Starting with Mary.  Last inspection she had little brood and i never saw the queen.  After checking records I learned i have no record of seeing Mary at all this year. 

Top Box DHB2: frames
1 - Solid honey
2 - Solid honey
3 - Honey & brood (eggs)
4 - Honey & brood (eggs)
5 - Brood & honey (eggs) - QUEEN (unmarked!)
6 - Backfill & pollen
7 - Backfill & pollen
8 - Backfill & pollen
9 - Backfill & pollen
10 - Solid honey

Bottom Box DHB1: frames

1 - Honey & backfill
2 - Honey & backfill
3 - Honey, pollen, backfill
4 - Pollen, backfill, brood
5 - Pollen & backfill
6 - Backfill - most
7 - Pollen, backfill, honey - most
8 - Honey & backfill - most
9 - Honey - most
10 - Honey - most

Three weeks ago this colony had nine brood frames.  Now it has only four.  The brood frames it does have are beautiful with solid laying patterns.  Brood production always falls off at the end of the year.  Usually the Queen completely stops laying eggs around mid-December.  It may be that these bees have slowed down a little early but the last week has been cool and solid rain.  The nightly lows have also been in the high forties since the first of October.  Which might lessen the queen's urge to lay, maybe.  The population is good but not high.  I would have liked to see more bees in this colony.

Bees on every frame of the top box
 Long live the Queen.  We found her walking around frame #3 in the Top box; and she was unmarked to boot!  I thought this colony had requeened in Spring but i could not find anything in the records about it.  The last entry involving Queen Mary Actual was last year and stated she was marked blue.  So my record keeping needs some honing. This pretty Queen was treated to a quick marking with white paint and released.

2011's Queen Mary about to be marked
 The bees are nicely backfilling the brood nest.  One or two more feedings should top them off.  They are still up in the top box.  I hope they plan to move down to the bottom box soon.  Last year one of the colonies Wintered in the top box and did fine.

Backfilling the Brood nest
- - -   - - -   - - -

Myrina was a surprise.  Her population is in the tank.  SHB all over the place.  Only as much stores as so few bees can muster.  She couldn't even finish off her Fumagilin syrup before it crystallized.  What a mess.

Top Box DHB2: frames
1 - Backfill & fresh brood (eggs)
2 - Backfill, pollen, honey, brood
3 - Honey & backfill
4 - Honey, backfill, pollen
5 - Backfill, honey, SHB (10)
6 - 1/2 Backfilled
7 - empty
8 - Mostly backfilled
9 - Empty & SHB
10 - Mostly backfilled

Bottom Box DHB1: frames
1 - Pollen & backfill
2 - Brood, backfill, pollen - QUEEN (marked white)
3 - Backfill & pollen (dropped & placed in 4th position)
4 - Backfill & pollen (placed in 3rd position)
5 - Some pollen
6 - empty
7 - empty
8 - empty
9 - empty
10 - empty

Whoa!  Not at all what one wants to see at this time of year.  This is the first time since i got Myrina in 2008 that she isn't the strongest colony.  In fact she's a wreck.  I had to add two more SHB traps for now.

Choices are few but at least we have some.  To address her small population she will be broken down to a single Deep box.  A better fit there will help her deal with the cold Winter temps.  It will also help her control the Small Hive Beetles.  If her population is big enough i can add a Medium Honey Supper filled with honey.  Then they would be in great shape going into Winter.  I hope to do all of this tomorrow.  Plus I'll add a regular Bottom Board to replace the Screened one she has now. 

I could also combine the extra swarm into her.  That would boost the population but not by the amount she needs to stay in the Double Deep.  I'll have to think that over some more first.

For what it's Worth, there were no drone cells on any of the frames i saw today.  That's the first time that's happened going into this Winter.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nuc'ed September Swarm

Here's an update for that swarm from Sept 21.

They have since been given a Hive Top Feeder from Brushy Mtn.  It was filled with a gallon of 1:1 Syrup with a drop of Thyme & Peppermint oils each plus a tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar.  The bees took to it quickly.  Their population is so small that after a week they still haven't finished the gallon of syrup.  They did, however start drawing comb IN the feeder.  All of which was removed.

One nuc box & a HTF
 They are drawing out comb and filling it up with nectar & pollen like champs.  If it were April or May these bees would be able to establish a full hive before Winter.  Sadly it's October.  They would have to go through Winter in a 2 or 3 frame nuc.  They might be able too but I've not the experience to set them up for it.  I still plan to combine them into another hive but we'll see.  So I'm not counting them amongst the other colonies yet.

Eggs, Larva, & Pupae
The Best news is that the queen is laying in every good cell she can find.  There's even a few capped worker cells.  The bees must like her since there are no Supersedure cells to be found.  She not the biggest queen I've seen but the attitude of the bees and their productivity do rate well.

New Good Queen


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hive Inspection 9/22/11

Mostly Cloudy
Mary doesn't seem to have any problems but it has been a while since she has been inspected.  Mary is one of two colonies i had going into 2011.  She produced honey and has not been combined with anyone.

Top Box DHB2: frames
1 - Solid honey
2 - Solid honey
3 - Good brood & honey ring, a few drone cells
4 - Good brood & honey ring, a few drone cells
5 - Eggs, brood & honey ring
6 - Brood & honey ring
7 - Brood & honey ring
8 - Empty brood & honey ring
9 - Back filling with Nectar
10 - Solid honey

Bottom Box DHB1: frames

1 - Mostly honey
2 - Mostly honey
3 - ½ Honey, ½ pollen
4 - Mostly empty, some brood & honey
5 - Some brood, pollen, honey
6 - Some eggs & brood, pollen, honey
7 - Pollen
8 - ½ honey
9 - Mostly honey
10 - Mostly honey

Her population seemed OK but not great.  I also counted 4 SHB's; all of which were killed.   Her stores need to be better.  Feeding should fix that.  Next month switches to 2:1 syrup from the 1:1 I'm using now.  More sugar and less water.  All the colonies will get Fumagilin next month too.

I didn't see the queen but there were fresh eggs.  I would like to see tons more eggs though.  For some reason this colony isn't producing much stores or brood.  We'll keep on eye on them.

The HTF was filled with ants again.  Not an issue but an annoyance.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011


September 25, 2011
DNB1 = 5 frames, CW
Queen Spotted = yes
Brood Present = yes
Brood Pattern = good
Drone Cells = no
Population = critical low
  • Remove IC
  • Add HTF 
  • Add 1 gal 1:1 syrup w/ACV, Thyme & Peppermint oils
  • Bees drawing comb

September 21, 2011
DNB1 = 5 frame, CW
Queen Spotted = yes
Brood Present = no
  • Add all equipment
  • 2 frames of Bees from in-yard Swarm
  • Reduce entrance

Another Swarm??

The size of a grapefruit
We all checked our hives and this swarm doesn't seem to belong to any of us.  However, i might have missed a queen in Nuc #5 after its last swarm. idunno?  It was in a tree at eye level 15 feet behind Heléna & Nuc #5.  It has been raining for several days; cool & wet.  We don't know when it showed up.  For all i know these could be the bees from Nuc #5's original swarm (link here).

I Nuc'ed the Swarm
Well, since i could reach them they were tossed into a empty nuc.  I have no plans to keep them.  They will likely be combined with whoever needs a population boost.  The Queen will be evaluated.  If shes a good Queen she might have a future.  I'll keep the nuc going as long as i can as a spare queen if needed.

Not fully elongated yet but growing


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nuc #5 Swarmed

This year has been the worst swarming year since I've started beekeeping.  At this point I'm more of a bee-releaser than a beekeeper.

We noticed a swarm yesterday coming from the direction of the neighbors apiary.  We banged some pots together to get them to ball up.  It was a very small swarm and it settled in a tree overhanging my side apiary.  The neighbor checked her hive but found nothing to indicate the swarm came from her bees.  I was confident it wasn't from my yard as all the hive have plenty of open space in them (Ha!).  There are three other apiaries within a mile of our two.  We all thought the bees came from somewhere else.

Swarm in a Sourwood tree
Today i went to look into the Nuc & Mary.  I've not been in them for a while and i wanted to make sure the swarm didn't come from my yard.  As soon as i opened up the Nuc i saw an unmarked queen running around the top frames.  She was on top of two frames in the top box that have brood.  The brood on those frames is very young.  I wasn't wearing my glasses so i don't know if there were any eggs in there.  Again the larva were very young looking.

I need to find out when an existing queen swarms in relation to the emergence of the new stay behind queen.

The brood patterns in the nest was weak & spotty but that's the nature of brood during a swarm event.  I'll check in a week to see if i can find eggs.  The new queen was enlarged and good size.  It may be her that made the larva i saw.

New Queen ready to be marked
The clincher was the three used swarm cells on the fourth frame in the bottom box.  I have been peeking in this hive almost each week.  There has been plenty of room for the combined bees to live on.  The two nucs together equal only ten frames yet i gave then another five with foundation.  Which they've been drawing on.  The frames were not honey bound either.  idunno!

The culprit cell
It is late in the year for queens to be mating.  Not a lot of drones out there.  Yet this queen my have made it under the wire.  The population isn't actually low now after this swarm. If this queen is fertile she has two months left of laying before normal cluster time. Their population can be on track to get them through winter.  That and after all it's a nuc.  They only need to have ten frames of bees and they almost have it now.

This should not have been a surprise AND I should have bee looking out for this.  Both nucs that were combined to make this large nuc were from swarms!   So I essentially Doubled Down on the swarming bet.  I'm going to start keeping better, visual, track of how my colonies formed.  These aren't bees.  They're swarm monkeys.

...and then there was this guy


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fixed Comb

It's been a few days.  So I took a quick look into Melissa yesterday to check on the progress of the divided comb frames.  That story can be read by clicking on this link, (Divided Frames).  I'm happy to say it worked.  The bees have secured the lose comb to the top bar on all the frames.  They continue to draw the rest of the comb out as well.

Rubber bands held the comb in place
You can see where they chewed the rubber bands
Almost completely drawn out
The bees are supposed to secure the comb to the bar before they chew through the rubber bands.  That definitely seems to be the case here.  Though they are drawing out Drone comb I'm sure that will be fixed in the coming weeks.  Once the comb is drawn out I'll remove the rubber bands; either from the frames or the bottom of the hive.

It's fun to learn a new trick.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hive Inspection 9/7/11

Mostly Cloudy

It's the first time I've been in Heléna since the Combinations.  Her population is Very High.  There are bees everywhere.  I can't even see the frames through the bees.  The population going into winter is supposed to be as high as one can get it but i wonder if there are too many.  A swarm this late would leave too few bees in the hive.  Plus the swarm itself would never make it.

Both Heléna & Melissa have high populations from the combining.  Neither colony had drawn out a second Deep box.  The supplemental bees from the nucs only added ten frames into each big hive.  Which just equals another Deep box.  The two big hives should then only be the size of regularly seasoned hives.  However these two colonies seem to have more bees than anticipated.

Bottom box loaded with bees
On Melissa I added a undrawn Honey Super to give the bees a little more room.  She has now drawn out two frames and filled them.  She continues to draw more frames too.  I've been feeding them so the stores on these frames are the Adulterated stuff.  Which works great for me.  I'll take off the super when they go into Winter Cluster and feed it back to them come Spring.  Once the bees have emptied the frame they'll have more drawn Honey frames for next Summer.  So I'll put a Super on Heléna too since it seems to work.

We are in a Nectar dearth but pollen is plenty available.  The bees are sucking down the Syrup.  They'll take a gallon in a day.  When i looked into Heléna i saw no empty cells.  Either nectar or brood filled them all with a frame or two of pollen.  It concerns me that they may become honey bound inciting a swarm.  At some point the the queen begins to lay fewer eggs.  Those cells are then back filled with honey.

I did see nectar in brood areas.  Though, i don't know if the bees are back filling or they had nowhere else to store the syrup.  I plan to feed next week then hold off 'till October when I give them a Fumagilin treatment.  I'll be looking for a reduction of the brood nest.

Back to the inspection.

Top Box DHB2: frames
1 - Solid honey
2 - Solid honey
3 - Beautiful, solid capped brood
4 - Beautiful, solid uncapped brood
5 - Honey, Nectar, fresh brood
6 - Brood, honey, some back fill
7 - Brood, Drone cells, nectar, honey, back fill
8 - Brood, Drone cells, nectar, honey, back fill
9 - Back filling with Nectar & pollen
10 - Solid honey

Bottom Box DHB1: frames
1 - Not fully drawn nectar
2 - Mostly drawn honey
3 - Fully drawn nectar & honey
4 - Nectar & honey, some back filling
5 - Solid capped brood & Queen
6 - Solid capped brood & some honey
7 - Brood, Drone Cells, honey
8 - Pollen & honey, little brood
9 - Pollen, brood, little honey
10 - Solid pollen

Which gives them eleven frames of brood.  The colony looks to be doing well and is very strong.  Pests are at a minimum.  I did find a single SHB on the outside of the hive afterward.  It was dispatched.

We never used to see these here


Monday, August 29, 2011

Dividing Melissa's Medium frames

As planned, today the Medium frames in Melissa were removed.  First the four frames were removed from the hive (bottom box).  Then the extended comb attached to the bottom bar was cut off.  After which the comb was set in to a deep frame.  In the end the neighbor got her frames back with brood, stores, & bees.  Melissa got four frames reduced in size giving her bees more room to expand.  Which i hope will reduce the colony's need to swarm.

Beautifully extended comb on a Medium frame
Back to a Medium Frame
Extended comb placed into a Deep Frame
I used rubber bands to secure the comb.  They had to be tied off in the middle to keep the comb on top.  From what I have read the bees will eventually chew through the the rubber.  By then the comb should be attached to the top bar.

Don't let the pictures fool you.  The frames were swept of bees before the surgery took place.  So there were plenty of bees flying around.  Add to that the honey spilled cutting the comb and there were Tons of bees flying around!

Here's an exercise everybody should try to improve their bee handling skills.  Tie a square knot in a single rubber band with your gloves ON!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hive inspection 8/28/2011


Going into Melissa to check on the handful of Swarm cups i saw the other day.  Swarm Cups are what I call the little queen cups formed on the bottom of the frames, or in Swarm Position.  She seems to have many bees now.  I would say her population is High.  I need to know if she is honey bound or just has no room left on the comb for the bees.

DHB2: frames
1 - Back filling with Nectar
2 - Back filling with Nectar
3 - Back filling with Nectar
4 - Solid eggs & larva
5 - Honey & Nectar
6 - Brood & some Drone cells, 4 swarm cups removed
7 - Brood & eggs, 3 swarm cups removed
8 - Solid eggs & larva
9 - Back filling with Nectar
10 - Back filling with Nectar, mostly full

DHB1: frames
1 - Back filling with Nectar, broken frame is fixed
2 - Medium Frame, mostly honey & back filling
3 - 1/2 Brood
4 - Medium Frame, brood & 2 swarm cups, drone cells
5 - Not fully drawn, 4 swarm cups, some pollen
6 - Brood, some pollen
7 - Medium Frame, brood & 2 swarm cups
8 - Pollen, little brood & honey
9 - Medium Frame, mostly pollen & honey
10 - Pollen, mostly honey

All the cups in the top box (DHB2) were removed.  That way i can tip up the box later this week to see if the bees made more swarm cups.  If they do it will be strong evidence of an intent to swarm.  Which may lead to a Fall Split; that I really don't want to do.  Fortunately the queen has yet to cease laying; a sign the colony is preparing to swarm.  This, then, may be a false alarm.

Fall Splits are common and used by many beeks.  I am unfamiliar with them, though, and don't want to learn about it offhandedly.  To that end i have talked to the neighbor and she will take the four Medium frames back and use them to bolster two of her colonies.  These were the original frames used to make the Spring Split that became Melissa.  They came from one of my neighbors colonies back in May.

The bees took a Medium frame and made it a Deep frame
The bees need more room.  Normally one can add an empty frame in the brood nest.  Then the bees perceive extra room.  That can quell the urge to swarm.  These Medium frames offer more than just empty frames.  I will cut the extended comb off the bottom of the frames. Then rubber band the comb to the empty frames.  This way the frames will already be accepted by the bees and provide additional space to build comb on to complete the frame.  We'll try to get it done this week. 

News just as big is the dramatic lessening of Drone Cells.  There were very few left in the hive.  I do not recall seeing any that were uncapped.  I didn't have my glasses on so couldn't tell if any adult drones were walking around.  It appears Mating season is coming to a close.  This is another reason I'm not fond of creating a Fall Split at this time.  The possibility of too few drones left to properly breed a new queen formed from a new split.  A Virgin queen, or badly mated one, will not be able to take a colony through Winter.  They'll all die off after a few freezes.  If i were to make Fall Splits I would have done it at the beginning of the month.

- - -   - - -   - - -

Afterward the news paper in Nuc #5 was removed.  I didn't look through the colony but did see where the bees might be drawing out comb.

Additionally every Colony was feed one gallon of 1:1 syrup today.  Each gallon also had 1 tbsp of  Apple Cider Vinegar and a drop each of thyme & peppermint essential oils.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Beekeepers are NUTS!

(Click on image for Readable size)
One Bee in your Bonnet can get anyone to 'Drop Trou' instantly

Today featured a Category 1 Hurricane (Irene).  We are a few hours inland but were subjected to some damaging winds and a good bit a rain.  Most people might consider that 'Bad weather'.  To be honest i too thought it to be in fact 'Bad Weather'. 

NOT that it stopped me from donning my veil & gloves to sneak a peek inside my hives between bands of tropical rain.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  Especially since my Beekeeping neighbor did the same thing later in the day. 

Oh well...what can i say?

Anyway, I looked QUICKLY into Melissa.  I wanted to see if maybe her screened Bottom Board was stopped up with dead bees & newspaper from the Combination.  Thinking that may be the reason she is bearding so much; not enough ventilation.  The SBB was clean though so it's something else.  She might have more bees than she can deal with from the combination.  I'll inspect her as soon as the weather turns 'Good'. 

Since I was there I removed what newspaper was left around the edges of the hive.  While doing so I saw a handful of Queen Cups on the bottoms of a few frames in the top box (DHB2).  The bees might be making Swarm Cells.  Something else that will need to be checked and soon!  

...And the neighbor?  She check to see if the queen i gave her, from Nuc #2, was laying.  She was.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Melissa's Beard

We have noticed that Melissa is bearding much more than the other colonies.  She doesn't have a Slatted Rack and that definitely contributes to bearding.  However, she is bearding down into the 60°F range we are now seeing at night.

Post Combination Melissa
What i wonder is if she has too many bees.  Since the TWO colonies next to her were combined she may have gotten all the drift.  One of those went into her so the only extra drift she would have gotten was from Nuc #2.  Who had a ton of bees.

There is nothing wrong with bearding.  As a matter of fact it is both natural and helpful the the bees.  I'm not trying to tone down the bearding.  I do, however, look at Melissa's unique bearding as an indicator there may be a population or ventilation issue. 

I'll try to check Melissa this weekend; depending on the hurricane.  Until then we added to her an undrawn super filled with foundation.  That will give any extra bees a place to hang out.  It will allow the bees more space for heat regulation.  Plus, if they draw it out some, good!


Hive Inspection 8/24/2011

Mostly Sunny

When feeding Myrina the other day I saw a Wax Moth & a SHB in her.  I wanted to see if she was in bad shape or not.

Not what you want to see but they did a great job a cleaning it!
The first thing i saw were bees in the HTF.  So there must be a hole in the screening in put in but i couldn't find it.  I'll make some more and scrap the ones in here soon.

DHB2: frames
1 - Filled with brood & eggs
2 - Brood, eggs, some stores.  Spotty pattern. Queen (marked)
3 - Brood, eggs, some stores
4 - Pollen & uncapped honey
5 - empty.  Starting to add honey
6 - Uncapped Honey
7 - empty
8 - Full of uncapped honey
9 - some Honey
10 - Full of uncapped honey

DHB1: frames
1 - 1/2 pollen
2 - Brood & eggs.  Spotty pattern
3 - Brood eggs, pollen
4 - light pollen & honey
5 - pollen
6 - empty. little honey
7 - empty
8 - empty
9 - Some honey (SHB x3)
10 - some uncapped honey

Her population is smaller than i like and her stores are light too.  She is, however, adding brood & stores at an acceptable speed.  Plus, this inspection includes the first feeding.  A spotty brood pattern is typical for Fall yet she has several frames filled with eggs.  Interesting to note that there didn't seem to be ANY Drone Cells.  Though I did see a few drones walking around.  Another check in a week or so will confirm the end of Summer drones.

Filthy Rotten Bug! - Small Hive Beetle
The presence of the SHB is troubling.  fortunately i only found three of them.  I added a beetle trap to help the bees out.  I might put more in later.  No Wax moth were present.

The Slatted Racks are a Big Hit with the Ladies!
There wasn't any bridge comb and the frames looked clean.  The bees were calm and moved off nicely from the smoke.  I'll keep an eye on this queen hoping she can belt out a bunch of brood soon.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

First Fall Feeding

The remaining colonies received their first feeding of the Fall today.  Last year there were only two colonies to feed this year there are five.  So i made five gallons of syrup which isn't cheap.  We paid around 58¢ per pound for this sugar.  Since we made 1:1 syrup we used 30lbs. of it, or $17.40 worth.  We plan to only feed once a week until the bees have ample reserves. More if the colony is having trouble.

The syrup for this batch was just sugar and no Bee Tea.  I did add a Tbsp of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar to it along with a drop of White Thyme & Peppermint Oils each.  The bees took to it immediately. 

I want to keep the top entrances in this Winter (via the Imirie shims) but i took them out for the feedings.  The entrance would be up against the HTF's and would likely cause robing.  I'll put then back on once feeding season is done; Late November or December.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pre-Winter Combinations

The honey year is over and it's time to get ready for Winter.  First on my list of things to do is make sure the colonies going into Winter have the strength to get through Winter.  By that I mean population.  Time to move the weak colonies in with the dependable colonies.

As it was
At most this year we had nine colonies; four double-deeps, two double-deep nucs, two single-deep nucs, and one wild log.
  1. Mary - double-deep, twenty full frames & good population, strong
  2. Myrina - double-deep, twenty full frames & good population, strong
  3. Heléna - double-deep, ten full frames & fair population, slow
  4. Melissa - double-deep, nine full frames & fair population, slow
  5. Nuc#1 - double-deep nuc, ten full frames & OK population, slow
  6. Nuc#2 - double-deep nuc, ten full frames & good population, productive
  7. Nuc#4 - single-deep nuc, five full frames & fair population, unproductive
  8. Nuc#5 - single-deep nuc, 5 full frames & good population, productive
  9. The wild log's bees are gone or going

It was decided to combine the colonies in a way that maximizes the amount of genetics in the yard.  So queens from my yard will be pinched in favor of queens from somewhere else for these combinations.

  •  Melissa came from the neighbors yard with a history of comb & honey production.  We combined her with Nuc#1 who is from Mary and kept Melissa's Queen.
  • Heléna was from Georgia but requeened herself and is now a local girl.  She was combined with Nuc#2 from Myrina.  Nuc#2 was a powerful colony I should have hived first thing in Spring.  A lost opportunity but i know better now.  Anyway her bees should easily rocket Heléna's bees through Winter.  Heléna's queen was kept. (The Queen from Nuc#2 went to my neighbor who had to requeen a weak hive.  Yay!)
  • Nuc#5 was a wild swarm from the next county.  They might be ferals and seem to have enough want-to.  Very calm bees too.  They were combined with Nuc#4, a swarm from Myrina.  The growth in Nuc#4 stalled early and remained unimpressive.  Here Nuc#5's Queen was kept.  These two Nucs together still only make up a large Nuc; ten frames.  I put them together with a third nuc box.  If they utilize it then great.  If not, no loss.  Either way these bees need to get through Winter as a Nuc.

This means we go into Winter with four Double-Deep hives and One Nuc.  All of them are filled with good bee populations and plenty of potential.

The Combination went as follows:
Nuc#1 into Melissa - 8/15/11
Nuc#4 into Nuc#5 - 8/17/11
Nuc#2 into Heléna - 8/19/11

Melissa Combined & Nuc#1's box left for the homeless field bees
All combinations were 'News paper combinations'.  The introduced colonies went on top of the resident colonies.  I will check them each next week.  It appears that all went well.  Only Melissa had a pile of dead bees outside of her front door but it was very small.  I may have cut too big of a slit into her paper (4 inches) when i did her.  The others only had slits of one inch put in their paper.

Nuc#5 combined with the extra box
Since no one moved more than twelve feet many field bees were displaced.  In each case we left a single frameless box at the original location of the lost hives.  These boxes stayed for a few days.  Long enough for the bees to drift to whichever hive of their choosing.

Moving Nuc#2's frames into a ten frame box
Heléna Combined
Queen of Nuc#2 on her way to the Neighbors Yard
By odd coincidence the white hives were merged with the white hives and the yellow hives were merged with the yellow hives.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Summer Update #3 - Heléna Swarmed

The bees hadn't been checked for a month.  In that time they were very busy; not making comb in the empty Deep above them but making Swarm cells instead.  They had become honey bound on the ten frames out of the twenty they had drawn out.

So without much adieu on July 15th they took off.  Though not far.  About forty feet into a small pine tree.  Which we found soon enough.  I had no interest in getting them back and offered them to the neighbor.  She wanted them but could not get up into the tree to get them.  So i had to go get them anyway.  Grrrrr...

That's me in the tree maybe 20 feet up
The swarm we captured was around 2lbs. worth of bees.  The Queen was not marked so it was a new one.  No telling what ever happened to the original Georgia queen.  An inspection of Heléna found eight swarm cells and one supersedure cell.

How to keep your Neighbor Happy...
The neighbor put the bees in a spare box on her deck and named them 'Maybee'.  They are doing fine and taking down the syrup.

The best part is i now have a local queen in Heléna.  All the better to get her through Winter with. 

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer Update #2 - A Bee Log

In late July a logger buddy of mine told me they had found a bee tree.  Unfortunately they didn't know what it was until it had been cut down and dragged to the deck.  He said they moved it off to one side.  I was able to check on it and saw lots bees still working.  It looked like the colony wasn't too badly damaged.  It was a week before i had the time to get the bees.  During that week a skidder operator dragged it across the clearcut before being told to take it back to where he had found it.  A lesson in MARKING a bee tree so people leave it alone!

These poor bees had been cut down then dragged twice across the mountain.  If you've ever been dragged by a skidder up & down a mountain twice you'd know how bad that is for the integrity of wax comb not to mention the loss of field bees.  When i finally went to get them, July 29th,  their activity was greatly reduced.  There were tons of hornets working the hive too.  Still we cut the nest out and took it home.  Best to try.

They looked good for the beating they had taken
Cutting out the nest from an old Virginia pine tree.  The nest was around 20ft up when the tree was standing

Had to guess where to make the bottom cut.  The nest went a lot lower than i thought it did.  Shaved a foot off the bottom.  The comb in this area was soaked with honey and blocked with nest debris.  The bees weren't getting down here at all.
Some of the mashed comb i inadvertently cut from the bottom of the nest.
You can see how big the entrance hole is.  Not sure how to plug it for the drive home so we wrapped it in a bed sheet instead.
First we VERY slowly rolled it and the sheet into one.  Then we tied rope around the folded ends and middle to hold the sheet in place.
The log weighed over a 150 lbs. so it took a little to 'ease' it into the truck.
Long & slow 23 mile ride back home and we set it up in the yard that night
The next day with an obstacle at the entrance to induce reorientation.

Had to cover the big original entrance due to constant robing by other bees & hornets.  A bunch of flashing and roofing tar with a wood entrance in the middle.  Can you see the half gallon mason jar stuck in the top of the log.  The jar fit perfectly into the tree cavity when feeding.
It took the bees a while to find the new front door but they did.  Sadly the robing continued as these bees weren't defending the entrance.  The only times these bees would fly was during feeding.  They took a half gallon each day.

Today there is almost no activity.  The bees act as if they have no queen.  Which is a Very good possibility considering what they went through.  I can still see some bees in the log when i look but they're not doing anything.  There is comb in the nest but i don't see the bees working it. I also feel that when i feed them most the bees i see are robbers.  I think this colony is done for.  If I had some extra brood come i could cut a strip to put in the log to spur thing on.  But there's a better chance it would be robed out too.  Plus adding bees, brood, a queen, & comb into a depleted log nest this close to winter doesn't make sense to me.  It would be like throwing away the resources. 

I'll leave them in the yard until spring to see what happens.  Then probably move the log to the back woods.  hopefully it might draw in a swarm next year.

The only consolation is that I've since found two more bee trees in the wild.  They're both standing and not near any logging operations.  The bees look to be happy, in good number, and are very busy.  Nothing i would want to get bees from directly but an area to set swarm traps in the future for some good old Survivor bees.

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