Archive for the ‘Hive Logbook’ Category
Here’s some pics from my weekend spent sweating in a beesuit. Early for swarms, but there sure seem to be more this year than last.
One of my hives threw this swarm on a warm saturday afternoon. I eventually managed to hive it up, but I missed the queen the first time around.
On my second attempt, I managed to locate the queen and put her in a screend box. Knowing they won’t abandon the queen, I left them to their own devices and came back later that night to pick up the cluster. Easy peasy.
Although I know it’s a fluke this early, but there is a nip of coolness in the air. What a welcome relief from the blistering heat we’ve had recently. I decided that it was a perfect day to look in on the girls. Today we’re beginning our fall preparations. Some of the hives look great, and some not so much so. My goal is to get them beefed up enough to get through the winter to next spring. I’ll be saving several frames of honey from this year to feed them if I need to early next spring.
The last time I checked on this one, I thought it was a goner. No queen, and tons of drones. Multiple eggs sloppily laid – all pointed to a laying worker. To my astonishment, I opened the box this morning to find the number of workers increasing and a working queen laying out a pretty solid egg pattern. How that happened, I have no idea. None. I’m grateful, but perplexed. Added 1/2 a megabee patty and 1/2 gallon of syrup.
Still a dead out.
Brood in various stages, but didn’t see queen. Added 1/2 patty megabee and 1/2 gallon of syrup. I’d like to see this one put more stores on.
Pretty good and perfectly staged for the fall honey flow. The top deep is full end to end with perfectly drawn, empty comb. Same regiment as the others with megabee and syrup. Saw some eggs in the top super, but nothing significant. Most of the action seems to be down below.
One of the strongest hives. I saw several bees still working honey in the honey super I left on from the spring. Didn’t see a need to add any supplements at this time.
Pretty much the same as last time. 3 strong frames of bees. I split the brood nest with a frame of freshly drawn comb from Brooks 4 in hopes that the queen would expand her laying. Same addition of megabee and syrup.
Looks really good. Chuck full of bees and honey. Didn’t add any syrup, but they did get 1/2 a megabee patty.
Brooks 7 and 8
These are doing okay, but are going to need to beef up before winter. Each had 4-5 frames of bees and mediocre stores. Added syrup and megabee. These two may get combined – possibly with the Nuc thrown in too. Wintering Nucs can be challenging.
We’ve managed the mite levels pretty well this year, but I’m going to try using one of the essential oil based varroa treatments this fall to knock the mites down more than just using a powdered sugar program. Probably looking at apilife var.
So yeah guilty as charged. It’s been a while since I’ve had time to post a hive log, but I figure that since we’re about to roll into the fall busy season it’s a good time to pick up the torch.
The Peachtree City yard is no more. There was only one hive there, and while it was pretty robust in terms of overall health, it was not productive at all – nothing in the super in the spring. I suspect that was largely due to another sizable bee yard being less than a mile away. So I moved it to the Brooks yard, which is actually at my house. I’m thinking that and the Woolsey yard will be the only ones going forward for the foreseeable future.
So without further delay –
Hive updates –
Popped this one open and there were tons of drones – which generally means one of two things – a laying worker or a drone laying queen. I didn’t see the queen, but I did see eggs sloppily laid. I believe it to be a laying worker – indicating that the hive has been queenless for a while. In either case, the hive is doomed unless it’s requeened. Unfortunately, requeening a hive with a laying worker is difficult. There were two queen cells – one of which was capped, but under the premise of a laying worker and the time it takes a queen to hatch out, there is very little chance that those cells have fertilized eggs in them. My intention is to do a shook swarm and requeen it. The idea behind a shook swarm is that you take all the bees out to field a few hundred yards away and shake them off the field. The idea is that the laying worker is too heavy to fly back and she gets left out in the field. When the rest of the hive returns, a new queen cage is in there and hopefully they take to her.
Dead out. This hive is toast and filled with wax moths. This was a hive that deaded out before and I restarted with a few frames from a nuc. It concerns me that it’s croaked twice so I suspect some kind of contamination in the wax or hardware. I don’t have enough bees to restart it right now and time is running out to get a new hive going and prepped for the fall. We’ll see. If I do get it going again, it will be on all new hardware and foundation – and will probably used only to combine with another smaller hive.
Looks ok, but should be in much better shape. Found the queen, but she was very small and gimpy looking. Gonna requeen this one.
This one looks good – solid brood nest with a good egg pattern. It’s a single deep, and it starting to get some honey in the super. Probably wouldn’t hurt to requeen this one before the fall honey flow to beef up production going into the fall. This one may be a candidate to combine with Brooks 3 later on.
Solid colony – probably the best looking of the bunch. There were ants in the jar super which I moved out.
This is the former PTC hive, and is doing better already – showing alot of honey storage in the 2nd deep and even some storage in the honey super. The only problem is that the foundation strips in the honey super have gotten all wonky since the spring so they were building comb all over the place. I pulled the super and am going to redo the foundation on the frames before putting it back on there.
This one looks pretty good for a single deep started in late summer. There were about 5 solid frames of bees and a large consistently laid broodnest. With a little feeding, this one should beef up by the fall.
Just about the same as Brooks 7, but with fewer bees. Gonna start feeding these to get them beefed up for the winter.
This was a split from a colony that was requeened, and was later used (unsuccessfully) to bolster the population of Brooks 2. It’s presently got three frames of bees with a 2 frame broodnest so I think it’s recovering well.
A longer look at doing some hive manipulations. In this BubbaTube, we open up a hive with all intention of swapping brood supers, but get a surprise in the process. We also replace some hardware that has come to the end of its life.
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Today I’ll be swapping around supers at the Brooks and Woolsey beeyards. This is a swarming control technique that supposedly keeps the colony from feeling crowded. The idea is that bees constantly move up in the colony through the winter as they consumes their winter stores. By the spring, the bottom of the colony is basically empty. By swapping the top and the bottom supers, we open up another super of space above for the colony to move into.
I’ll also be putting honey supers on these hives. It takes a while for the bees to “get” that their hive has changed sizes and move up into the super. We’ve already got a light nectar flow going, which will quickly pick up in the next few weeks, so I want them up in there drawing comb ahead of the game.
My supers have top entrances too. I’m a big fan of top entrances for two reasons. They provide additional ventilation, but the air isn’t pulled up directly through the broodnest, and it gives the foragers a direct route to the honey stores – meaning they don’t have to walk all the way up the inside of the colony to get where they’re going.
Here’s a combined write up for the PTC and Woolsey hives and what the findings were when we conducted our quickie spring inspection. This is not the full spring inspection. I conducted the inspections very quickly to avoid chilling the brood. The idea was just to get a general idea on how the hive was doing and to identify any obvious problems as early as possible.
This hive is in awesome shape. It had been a month since I last visited this hive and the bees had hardly touched the Megabee patty or the sugar syrup. This is good because it tells me that they have a viable food source. Indeed they were storing honey on both sides of the brood nest. The only thing blooming right now is Red Maple, so I’m assuming that there is ample forage available.
The brood nest was good sized spanning 6 frames with brood in all stages of development. Brood pattern was pretty solid as well. Forager traffic was high considering the temperature (low 50s).
I removed one of the division board feeders and changed the syrup in the other one. I also added another megabee patty.
This hive is also in great shape. Both feeders were empty, and the megabee patty was completely consumed. Broodnest was a good size (spanning 5 frames to the depth of the super) with numerous eggs and larve in solid patterns across both sides of three frames. There were also new honey stores over the brood nest, indicating that this hive had also found early forage.
I removed one of the feeders and added another megabee patty.
Spotted 8 small hive beetles in this one. I’ll be adding a beetle trap on the next visit.
Note: Many beekeepers would question the approach of adding pollen and syrup while the bees have available forage, but it is not unusual (especially during the spring build up) for a hive to completely consume its stores over a few days of bad weather trying to feed the expanding brood nest. We still have nights in the 20s so I look at taking these steps as insurance. If they don’t need it, they’ll just leave it alone in favor of available forage. But if they do need it and it’s not there, the hive could suffer.
Here’s a short video that shows you a quick spring inspection of the Woolsey hive. This is not a full springtime inspection, but rather just a quick peek under the hood so to speak to check on food stores, brood production, etc. A full spring inspection is much more comprehensive and would be done in warmer weather. The video is crappy. I shot it with the video camera on my blackberry kind of as a spur of the moment – hey this might be cool – sort of thing. Enjoy!
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It’s been a little over a month since it was last warm enough to pop in and see how the girls are doing. Today when it broke 52 degrees, I conducted a brief spring inspection at the Brooks yard.
Brooks 1 – Bit the dust. The pollin patty was about 90% intact, and there was still syrup in the feeder. The (now dead) cluster was down to the size of a fist so I can only imagine that they never warmed up enough to break cluster and get some grub. Pisser.
Brooks 2 – Looks really good. Patty was completely consumed and feeders were empty. Cluster spanned 5 frames and was the depth of the super (bees were active all the way to the bottom of the frame). Brood pattern was very good, with larve in all stages of development. Added 2nd deep using drawn comb from the now deceased Brooks 1. Put 2 patties between hive bodies and topped off feeders with 2:1 syrup.
Brooks 3 – In good shape. Patty was completely consumed. Both feeders were empty. Cluster was large – spanning 6 frames. Brood pattern looked good with brood in all stages of development.
Maintenence Needed: The top deep super is rotting out on the left side and needs to be replaced.
Brooks 4 – Still Dead.
Brooks 5 – Similar to Brooks 3. Patty was consumed and both feeders were empty. Topped off both feeders with 2:1 syrup. Cluster was large and busy spanning 6 frames. Lots of brood. Added another patty on top bars.
Maintenence Needed:Screened bottom board and bottom deep need to be replaced.
I’ve read over on Linda’s Beekeeping blog that the Red Maple is already blooming. We have some red maples and I can’t report that, but they look darn close. Time to get the honey supers ready – fingers crossed.
Cold as hell today, but it’s only going to get colder the rest of the week so it was either today or wait till next week to get pollen patties on the hives. I made a few yesterday from 2:1 syrup and megabee. Each of the hives got one except for the one in PTC. That one got two since it’s more of a drive for me, but also it’s still looking pretty strong as well. I also got the last two hives wrapped in 30# felt paper as well – so that’s all good.
All in all the hives looked pretty healthy. The cluster was a pretty good size and they seemed pretty defensive when I opened the top ( I guess I would be too!). But that’s a good sign. I didn’t want to linger with it being so cold out, but it looked like all the hives still had what looked like plenty of capped stores. It’s too early to say of course, but I’m hoping that I can come out in the spring without any losses. (fingers, toes, and elbows crossed!)
Honey Run Apiaries has some good reading on how to make pollen patties in case you’re curious.
till next time…