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