Saturday, March 12, 2011

Inspection 3/12/11

Mary & Myrina
Partly Sunny
Slight Breeze

Not a full inspection but a brood check.  It's that time of year where time gets short with all the tasks to be completed.  A beek needs to monitor the Spring brood up for Swarm Control.  The last inspection showed small brood nests in each hive.  Today's inspection was to learn how much more those nests have grown.  

Myrina's bottom Deep had full honey frames from the 10th  to the 7th position.  Frame #6 was filled with worker brood.  I stopped pulling frames and closed the box up.  The last thing I wanted to do is pull apart the brood nest.  I'm sure, judging by the amount of bees on them, frames 1 & 2 also had brood.  I tipped the box on it's side to look for Swarm cells hanging off the bottom frames but saw none.

Her top box had many bees in it but a frame by frame search revealed no brood.  There too the bees were on most of the frames.  Still some honey in the end frames.  I expect eggs in the top box soon.  The Reversing tends to set them back a week or two and it's been only one week since that happened.  The bees look healthy now and I'll do another brood check soon.

There were a few equipment issues with Myrina.  The unpainted wood sheet beneath the bottom board had molded.  Apparently it soaked up the rain water which mixed with the hive debris under the screen.  The bees couldn't access it to remove it so it molded.  That sheet was replaced with a corrugated plastic 'Land 4 Sale' sign.  The wood sheet looked terrible.

Rain seeped in onto the unpainted wood sheet
I also changed out the Deep box that had been lowest in the hive.  It too had the mold/mildew spreading up it's sides.  I hope to save the box but that will take some bleach first. 

Mold & Mildew spread upwards
I wanted to put the first Honey Supper on Myrina.  I had ripped out all the Plasticell comb and then wired all the frames for Foundationless Natural Comb.  It's my understanding, however, that the bees must have brood in the box directly below the super for them to draw it out. 

Foundationless Medium Honey Frame
Since the top Deep has no brood in it I'll need to wait on that for now.  We are still having cold nights.  With the bees only filling one & a half Deeps an extra Super might add to much space for them to heat when they need to cluster.

Mary is much farther ahead.  I was pleasantly surprised to see full brood frames in the top Deep.  Recall the first inspection where she only had brood in the bottom Deep.  I pulled one brood frame to remove some bur comb beneath it.  On the next frame i found Drone Cells both capped & uncapped.  Great news!  I guess in a week or two I can go ahead and make my nucs.  Unfortunately in the excitement I forgot to look under the boxes for swarm cells.

I say I can make my nucs soon because the plan is to let the nucs make their own queens.  So drones need to be flying first.  I could wait and buy Queens to put in the nucs later but I want to make my own.  I hope to rear local queens and eventually have a bee yard filled with Survivor bees.  Though I don't plan on requeening Mary or Myrina this year,  Their queens are not yet a year old.  They should last me until next year at the earliest.  The nucs will, hopefully, make queens quickly.  Those who can make it through next Winter will seed the next batch the following Spring.  The big picture is to make my own queens and sell Wintered nucs.

However, I did see a small pile of Chalkbrood mummies beneath the entrance.  That's usually a sign of a weak queen but the brood in this hive looks great.  The amount is good and so is the pattern.  I keep an eye on it to see if it gets worse.  If it does I may need to requeen her.
Since Mary had plenty of brood in the top box I added an undrawn foundationless Honey Super.  That might help ease any potential over crowding until I can pull the nuc frames and replace them with more undrawn foundationless ones.  Which breaks up the brood nest and diminishes the swarming instinct.

However,  I did replace one frame from the top Deep.  The bees had over-drawn one frame and under-drawn the next one.  To fix this I replaced the oversized frame with another undrawn foundationless frame.  Now the bees can hopefully draw both out to normal size.  That too should relax the chance of swarming.

Both Hive Top Feeders were removed.  The bees showed no great interest in the syrup this Spring.  Maybe they hate the Tea or the Maple flow is just to good (still going strong).  The Inner Covers were placed back on too.  I'll put the Slatted Racks on as soon as I finish them.


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