Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Few Observations

Lately I've been going into the hives every other day or so checking for laying queens, comb drawing, etc.  The bees seem to be doing alright.  There are a few things i wanted to put into the record.

Mary's bees are closer to drawing out the honey comb in the super.  I had added 3 partially drawn out plasticell frames to spur her to draw out the rest.  I don't know if it was those or the main flow starting but some comb is now being drawn.

Drawing Foundationless Comb
Each frame has a small piece of Crimped-wire foundation stuck to the top bar.  You can see the wires in the above image.  I use that as the seed strip to guide the bees.  The strips also get sprayed with syrup.

The bees have begun to bring in nectar and store it up in the honey super.  Though the frames aren't fully drawn out yet.  The wax bees seem to keep just ahead of the field bees.

Uncured Honey
This is one of the plasticell frames.  After this season i hope to have enough foundationless honey frames around to chuck the last of these. 

In the Brood boxes there is some odd looking debris in some of the cells.  I think it's either bits of mold or maybe SHB droppings. 

Dirty looking stuff!?
There was a SHB in Duchess's hive last Fall when I did the combination with Mary.  Maybe there were some more that made it through Winter.  To check I put a Beetle trap in Mary's hive and filled it with Mineral Oil.  To my surprise the bees went nuts and ganged up on the trap.

Why are they doing this?
Was I supposed to use Vegetable Oil instead?  I'll ask the question in the Forum.  The bees cant physically reach the oil in the trap but it looks like they're trying.  They immediately clustered around the trap as i was adding the oil to it.  Perhaps it should go in any swarm traps I make.

Mary had one frame that was entirely drone comb.  It wasn't a Pierco frame either but a regular foundationless frame.  It's swarm season and bees need to make lots of drones this time of year.  The bees can change the drone cells to worker cells later when they're over the drone rut.  In the mean time Mary is stuck making tons of drones and Varroa.  To fix that I cut the comb out leaving and undrawn frame.

Ex-Drone Frame
I left a few rows at the top to guide the bees making the next comb.  Which hopefully will be worker comb.

The Nucs look good too.  2 of 3 are broodless but should have laying queens in them soon.  Their populations are good.  Especially Nuc3.

Nuc3 loaded with Bees
This Nuc may end up as a hive this year.  It started with 5 Medium frames filled with bees & brood.  Plus I added an extra 4 Deep frames fully drawn with pollen & honey.  These bees have done well and love to make comb.  If i add another Deep box they might just draw it out before Fall.  How well the new queen does at laying will decide.

To finish I want to post an image of a hatched Queen Cell being torn down by workers.  Most of the time these are gone before i get to see them.  This one is from Nuc2.

Old Queen Cell
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Inspection 4/21/2011

Nuc #1, Nuc #2, Nuc #3
Slight Breeze

A quick look at the Nucs before the monthly Club Meeting.  In case there was an issue i needed to ask the membership about .  Fortunately I didnt see anything that look like a problem.

Nuc #1 is looking great now with 3 frames of eggs & larva.  The pattern looks as solid as it can be.  I did see a cell with 2 eggs in it but only once.  I'll check again this weekend to look for more.  I don't want a laying worker problem.  

3rd row of eggs, 3rd cell from the left;  2 eggs
The larva was on each of the brood frames.  She must have begun laying soon after the first inspection.  No capped brood yet but that will happen soon.

Larva from Nuc 1
The brood looked good so it was a surprise to see the they're Superseding.  When the Nuc was first made the bees my not have begun to make queen cells for a day or more.  That would allow any fresh eggs to become older and less likely to form into a good queen.  The best queen cells coming from day old eggs to 3 days old at most.  This queen seems alright but the bees know better.

Supersedure Cell
I'll check this nuc every few days to see what happens with the queens.  Once the new bees begin to emerge another Deep box could be put on the nuc.  In the mean time i'll stop feeding them sice they have plenty of food and the Flow is about to start.

Queen bee, perhaps soon to be replaced

Nuc #2 has plenty of capped brood left in her as well as 3 Queen cells.  2 have been capped while 1 is being capped now.  So by the weekend after next a queen should have emerged.  Another week after that, or shortly after, there might be eggs in this nuc.

Queen Cell 1
Queen Cell 3
Queen Cell 2 with a....'What is that!'
I took this picture of the queen cell as the bees were capping it.  I didn't see the image until later.  Which is when I noticed the odd looking bee in the blue oval.  It appears that her abdomen is elongated like a queen.  She doesn't appear to be bigger than the drone either.  If it was an obvious queen i think i would have noticed her.  I'll check this nuc this weekend as well to see if i can find anything else.

One more issue was the mesh reducer on the entrance.  Because of the threat of early robing i cut a mesh reducer to fit a single bee.  I didn't think about drones & queens at the time though.  I found frame 5 completely covered in drones.  Just sitting there doing more nothing then usual.  I realized then they might not be able to get out of the hive; though i saw no bee waste stains anywhere.  It also means a queen couldn't get out of the hive either.  I made the entrance bigger and left it at that. 

Nuc #3 had lost most if it's swarm cells.  They had been torn down and replaced with regular comb.  I looked and looked for a queen but never saw one.  Hopefully in a few days i will find a bunch of eggs.  Then I'll know she has a queen.

Bunch 'o bees
Her population is great for a nuc but shes is in a 10 frame box not  a 5 frame nuc.  They wont be able to defend their space as well but have no pests yet.  

Both Nuc #1 & Nuc #2 had their Inner Covers finally put on. 

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blogs to Books

For those of you that use a blog as a beekeeping journal I recommend having it printed.  You could use your printer or you could do what the Wife did for me.  She had this blog printed as a book using an online source.  It was a gift and quite a good one i think.

Years 2008 - 2010
The online sites can format the book as you want with colors, picts, and such.  Mostly just printing ones blog with the existing formatting does the job.  There are some bells & whistles if you want.  Mine is hardbound with 123 pages; after all it covers 3 years.  I plan on getting another volume each year for that year only.  Kind of like an Encyclopedia Beetanica.

You can decide how to mix picts & text
The reason I recommend it is because tonight i noticed a portion of my blog is missing!  Where it went i don't know.  When it went i don't know.  Part of Mary's Colony Chronicle just isn't there anymore.  Which means i've lost everything I've done with her from May 5, 2008 to November 26, 2010.

The post abruptly ends on Nov. 20, 2011
 The colony nor i will die from the loss of this information but the reason I keep a blog is to know what has been done.  I'd like to have that information.  Yes I keep a prose version of the same data on the main page.  The Chronicles, though, are like the Suez Canal.  I use them to avoid going around the Cape Horn of Text when I need to check a hive input.

Fortunately, I can recreate the missing data from the book.  It will take a while, 9 pages worth, but i'll get it all back.  So if something happens to your blog/journal it would be good to have a hard copy to go back to.  Any second copy will do be it from your printer or as a book.  Even a HTML Word doc safely stowed away some where will work nicely. 

If you go the book route search 'blog to book' in your browser.  It will show some places that will let you see a demo.  That alone can be fun. 

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beginning to Worry

Here we are again at the start of another honey season and these bees have yet to draw out any honey comb.  This has been the biggest problem over the past several years.  I don't know what i'm doing wrong but something ain't right!

Today i looked at the honey supers to see a bunch of bees sitting around doing nothing.  The supers have been on for several weeks now.  Plenty of time to draw the comb out.  They just wont do it.  I've used Plasticell, Foundationless, and now Crimped wire.  I've sprayed the frames with sugar syrup and feed the bees with even more syrup.  I'm about at wits end.

At the moment the honey supers are foundationless.  Today i replaced 3 frames in each super.  One with 3 semi-drawn Plasticell frames and the other with 3 undrawn Crimped wire frames..  All frames were then sprayed with sugar syrup.

Wish me luck!

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Feeding for Comb

The Honey Supers have been on for several weeks now and haven't been drawn out yet.  In an attempt to get the bees to start drawing out comb i fed them 1:1 syrup yesterday.  Since there is no honeycomb i'm not worried about adulterated honey just yet.  The syrup continues to have Apple Cider Vinegar put in it; 1 tbsp per gallon.  I'm also adding a drop of 'pure' Thyme oil to each gallon. 

I checked the feeder late yesterday.  The bees were all over the syrup.  If they stay on it i'll continue to give it to them.

I'll give Nuc1 & 2 a pint each of syrup today as well.  Nuc 1 has no brood at all and Nuc 2 has little larva left.  Either way the bees don't need as much food as a colony with tons of brood.  I noticed the bees in Nuc 1 aren't flying as much as the 2 nucs with larva.  When i looked in Nuc 1 the other day i didn't see much in the way of stores either.  I want to make sure there are enough stores in the hive when the Queen starts laying again.  Though I wont be adding pollen patties.  They don't take to patties when there is real pollen available.  So i wont waste money on that.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Inspection 4/15/2011

Nuc #1 & Nuc #2

A queen should have emerged in Nuc #1 last weekend.  I went in today to see if she had begun to lay eggs.  The first frame had no new eggs and all the capped brood had emerged.  Frame 2 Also had no eggs or brood but did have the New Queen.  Though my colonies have generated many queens this is the first one I meant to make.  Woohoo! it worked

The marking tools are always in the work bucket.  It took a bit to get her in the tube though.  A worker bee always trys to get stuck in there with the queen.  2 small dots of white paint and a minute of drying later shes marked.

Marked Queen Bee
She went back on the frame then scurried out of site.  The other frames had no eggs either.  I posted a question on the forum asking how long it takes a new queen to start laying.  They said it can take up to 2 weeks.  I'll check again next weekend to see how they're doing. 

Still making Mating Flights
Meanwhile they are bringing in plenty of nectar & pollen.  They could potentially become honey bound before she begins to lay.  If so I'll swap out a couple of frames for empty drawn frames.  Plus I put the Slatted Rack on.

- - -

Nuc #2 had 3 Queen cells on the first frame I pulled out.  Only 2 were capped.  There was still plenty of worker capped brood on that frame too.  I didn't look any further and closed it up. 

The nucs are looking good so far.  Once a queen begins to lay I plan on adding the second nuc box with filled honey frames.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011


May 27, 2011 - HIVED to Melissa
(post link) (link to Hive Chronicle)
  • Hived
  • Add DHB2 w/10 foundationless frames
  • Remove IC
  • Add HTF w/1 gal syrup
  • Add VB

May 21, 2011
  • Remove Reducer (r)

May 16, 2011
Queen Spotted = yes, frame 1
  • Balanced frames, Deep-Medium-Deep...
  • Cut out cross comb

May 5, 2011
(post link)
  • Marked New Queen - white

May 1, 2011
r-SBB(c), DHB1, IC, TC
  • Open Bottom of SBB

April 21, 2011
(post link)
r-SBB(c), DHB1, TC
  • Add IC

April 14, 2011
r-SBB(c), DHB1, TC
DHB1 = 10 frames, Crimped-wire
                                Brood frames = 5/10
Queen Spotted = Queenless (we think)
Brood Present = yes (6-8 swarm cells)
Brood Pattern = patchy
Drone Cells = yes
Population = moderate
Condensation = no
Pests = none
  • Add all Equipment
  • Add 5 Medium brood frames from neighbors hive
  • Add 5 empty drawn Deep frames from Duchess
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The Split Before the Swarm

One of the Neighbor's hives had a false start to swarm today.  I was home for lunch and went out on the back deck to look at my bees.  As soon as i walked outside i heard that Jet Engine sound of a swarm (a sound i became all to familiar with back in '08).  I followed the sound to my neighbors hives.  There the bees were flying in the typical manic sphere of Doom 20 feet across and pouring out of the one hive.  I watched and waited to see where they would eventually perch; while calling the neighbor at work.  They didn't go anywhere and all came back an landed on the outside of their hive.  Even after they came to rest on the hive they continued to stampede in then gush out of the entrances.  An hour later everyone had gone in for good.  The hive then resumed regular daily activities.

On their way back in
We split out the hive late this afternoon.  The brood nest was opened up with drawn and undrawn frames and an undrawn wax foundation honey super was added.  All the frames with swarm cells where pulled out (5).  We searched & searched for the queen but she was better at hiding then we were at seeking or she's not there.  All fingers are now crossed hoping it did the trick.

We are confident that the colony had not yet Swarmed.  The hive was packed!  Each frame had a pile of bees on it.  We couldn't see the comb without moving the bees away.  Even the newly place undrawn frames were quickly submerged in bees as we traded out frames.

Which left us with a Nucs worth of brood frames and bees.  Most or all of which have multiple swarm cells on them.  The neighbor didn't have any extra woodenware but I did.  She asked me if I wanted them to make a nuc.  I said sure!  So now I have another Nuc.

All the woodenware i have is from Duchess which was a double deep.  The frames I got from the neighbor are mediums.  So I put the medium frames in a single deep with 5 empty and drawn deep frames.  It may be a bit too much space so I need to get another nuc set up soon.

We plan to inspect these hives on Sunday looking for the parent queen.  Hopefully the she is still in the main hive and has started laying again.  We'll see.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Myrina's Nuc & New Queen

Today's weather was Sunny & warm which is what I've been waiting for to make the second Nuc.  Myrina's population is increasing rapidly and I've been worried about her swarming.  I did not plan for a full inspection.  Only to make the nuc and close everyone up afterward.

As I took it of i saw the bees had not begun to draw out the Honey Super.  Oh well!.  I started removing the frames from the top brood box.  Lots of bees, lots of capped brood cells, & lots of drone cells.  To look for eggs I had to push the bees around on the frames to see into the cells.  I was also looking for the Queen of course.  I meant to locate then isolate her before i took any frames for the nuc.

It didn't take long.  Queen Myrina was in the top box on frame #5.  Not the blue marked VSH daughter from 2010 but a new Unmarked queen!  Whoa!  I grabbed the marking tube from the tool box and chased her around the frame for a few seconds before i managed to catch her.  She was laid to the side for later.  Then I took the frame she was on and the 3 adjacent frames and put them in the Nuc; they had plenty of eggs.  I put an extra honey frame in the nuc and it was full.  A towel was placed over the nuc while I finished up with Myrina.

All 4 frames were replaced with drawn crimped-wire frames saved from Duchess.  The remaining brood frames were checker-boarded some what to move the end frames into the brood nest.  Then I marked queen Myrina with a white marker and let the paint dry for a minute.  After which she was released back onto a brood frame.

The New Queen Myrina
At this point I closed up Myrina and grabbed the nuc to take to its stand.  The Screened Bottom Board & Telescoping Cover were waiting there for the Nuc.  All of it was assembled and there sat Nuc#2.

A Nuc from both Hives
As I closed the cover on the new Nuc I noticed that the bees were Very quiet.  Hopefully by next weekend they will have a handful of Queen cells made.  Also the Slatted Rack was added at the start.  I hope it will allow the bees to keep the bottom of the frames warmer so they have more queen cell candidates.  I should have done that with the first nuc.  Nuc#2 has 4 full frames of bees in it.  Which is what I've been told is a good amount.

The New Queen Myrina.  The last time I saw the blue marked 2010 queen was in October.  Yet all spring there has been plenty of brood.  I feel like she may have been replaced after the boxes were reversed.  I couldnt have been last year since it would have been to late for drones to be around.  There was also no problem with egg laying early this year.  There was a slow down after the reversal.  I assumed it was related to the reversal but it may have been when the supersedure occurred; or she died and was replaced.  I havent seen any queen cells yet this year.  A full inspection is in order now.

The good news is that Myrina is requeened.  I'll not worry as much about her swarming now.  The new queen performance is Fantastic.  The brood frames were filled from edge to edge with brood.  The pattern was completely solid.  Possibly the best looking brood frames I've ever seen.  I hope the queen in Nuc#2 ends up the same.

On a final note the beekeeping neighbor and I both noticed TONS of drone cells in our hives this weekend.  Almost entire frames of them.  All our queens are local to this area.  I hope it is normal for here but I do not recall so many drone cells before.

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August 19, 2011 - (Combined into Heléna)
  • End of Nuc #2
  • Queen was caged & placed in neighbors colony Abigale
  • All 10 frames placed in DHB for Heléna
  • Remaining equipment put into storage

May 8, 2011
  • Add DNB2 + 5 drawn frames (mixed)

May 5, 2011
(post link)
  • Marked New Queen - white

May 1, 2011
r-SBB(c), SR, DNB1, IC, TC
  • Open Bottom of SBB

April 21, 2011
(post link)
r-SBB(c), SR, DNB1, TC
  • Add IC
  • 3 Queen Cells

April 15, 2011
r-SBB(c), SR, DNB1, TC
DNB1 = 5 frames, Crimped-Wire
                              Brood frames = 4/5
Queen Spotted = queenless
Brood Present = yes (queen cells)
Brood Pattern = solid
Drone Cells = yes
Population = good
Condensation = no
Pests = none
  • 2 Capped Queen Cells

April 10, 2011
r-SBB(c), SR, DNB1, TC
DNB1 = 5 frames, Crimped-Wire
                              Brood frames = 4/5
Queen Spotted = queenless
Brood Present = yes
Brood Pattern = solid
Drone Cells = yes
Population = good
Condensation = no
Pests = none
  • Add all equipment
  • Added 4 brood frames from Myrina
  • Added 1 honey frame from Duchess
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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Busy with Woodenware

What you see here is about a months worth of fabricated & painted wooden ware.  A few peices are left out but the total this Spring is:

10 Frame
2 - Deep Hive Boxes
3 - Slatted Racks
2 - Screened Bottom Boards w/ IPM board
2 - Inner Covers
1 - Telescoping Cover
2 - Medium Honey Supers
2 - Imrie shims

5 Frame
4 - Deep Nuc Boxes
2 - Nuc Slatted Racks
2 - Nuc Screened Bottom Boards w/ IPM board
2 - Nuc Inner Covers
2 - Nuc Telescoping Covers
2 - Nuc Vent Boxes

This is enough for 1 new double deep hive & 2 Nucs.  It also adds a Slatted Rack to all hives in the Yard, plus some additional Honey supers.  More equipment may be needed if I catch a swarm and I plan to try.

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Heiress Presumptive

On Saturday I noticed what appeared to be too much activity at the entrance of Nuc #1.  I would have checked the Nuc then but the air temp was too cool for opening up a queenless and brood poor nuc.  It was also VERY windy. The forecast called for today to be warmer and calm so I waited 'till today to go into it.

When I got out there today I saw much more activity at the entrance.  It's open only enough for a single bee at a time; yet was covered in bees.  I figured the Nuc had died out and was being robed.  The weather here has been terrible since the nuc was made.  We've had snow and lots of cold windy days.  Overall, bad conditions for a few frames of bees trying to cluster around what little brood they have.  It's a nuc so I wasn't upset, but i wasn't happy either.

Fortunately the nuc was better off than it seemed.  Once opened I could see lots of bees.  I checked the frames looking for shredded comb, a sign of robing, and found none.  The comb was in good condition with some capped brood still waiting to hatch out.  There were also 4 Queen Cells.  2 were not yet capped but the other 2 were.  If the nuc was made 12 days ago the capped cells might be 11 days old.  So in 5 more days I should have a Virgin Queen.  The first Queen intentionally made in this apiary.  Woohoo!

All the Queen cells were high or in the middle of the frames.  The 2 capped ones were next to each other.  So they could feasibly emerge at the same time.  That would cause a fight between the 2 queens which could lead to the surviving Queen becoming injured.  I could mash one of the 2 but will not.  It would leave only a single good cell for the nuc.  There's a risk either way but let's see what nature has in store.

The Nuc was being robed though.  Not for the honey but the syrup in the Boardman feeder.  So I took it off.  The nuc still has a good bit of honey and pollen left.  With the field bees it has it should bee OK for starters once the New Queen begins laying.  There are some reserve frames still left over in the frezer in case they run low on stores.  All in all I think this Nuc might make it. 

I have a Slatted Rack for this nuc but until the population begins to increase I'll leave it off.  The Rack is not a lot of extra space but these bees can't yet defend their little nuc.  If all goes well I'll add the second nuc box with 5 frames of honey on drawn frames.

Myrina's Nuc will be next in a week or so.  

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