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