Saturday, June 6, 2009

Inspection 6-6-09

This last week has been very weird, weather-wise. It got pretty chilly during the early part of the week, and then we had some cold rain. Bees don't like the rain (although in the evening I saw some brave ones venturing out and in).

Last week I had put the extra honey super on top. Today when I inspected the hive, I saw just a few bees in that area, and I couldn't tell that they had done anything to the frames. The honey frames are entirely plastic molded with the honeycomb pattern (and coated with beeswax), as compared with wooden frames with the plastic honeycomb foundation. It is generally accepted that bees prefer 100% wax foundation, and have been known to refuse to work with the plastic foundation. The coating of wax helps. In the deeps, the bees build up was on the black foundation just fine, but seem to have ignored the honey frames thus far.

I remembered that I didn't "prime" the honey frames by spraying them with sugar water before I added them, so that could contribute to the bee's hands-off attitude. So today I took some sugar water and a basting brush and I "basted" the foundation with the sugar water. Hopefully that will encourage them to build some wax. There is a concoction called "Honey B Healthy" which contains some essential oils (primarily lemongrass oil) which encourages the bees to build wax. But I didn't have any of that to use, so I'll hope for the best. Another concern may be the queen excluder - it may be difficult for the bees to get up to the top level (although I saw about 40 bees in there today - that's not too many). Maybe with the sugar water they may be more inclined.

Now the lower levels were a different story - they were going strong! Take a look at the frame above. On the left (the white caps) is honey. Right next to that (uncapped) is nectar. Then on the right (yellow caps) is brood (or babies). That is the typical pattern for a working hive. There were still a couple of frames on the edges which didn't have much (if any) wax, but the bees like to concentrate on the center. You can't add the honey super too early or you will experience the "chimney effect" where the bees build wax only in the center parts of all of the levels, and don't fill out the edges.

Here's another interesting picture:

On the right edge that lump of white is honey comb, and the bees had built it up past the edge of the frame (the shot is looking pretty much down the edge of the frame, so you can see how it protrudes up). The next frame didn't have much honey comb, which is why the bees had room to add the height to the honey stores.

Overall I am pleased at the amount of honey I saw the bees storing. If they will only start using the upper super, they can get a good store for the winter. I also saw lots of eggs (but I didn't see the queen) so the number of bees keeps increasing. I keep forgetting that it is only early June, and they have all of June, July, August, and September to do work. Also, this is just the 8th week of me having the hive, and already they have progressed this far! So I think they will do well.

Something else to mention: while I was closing up the hive, there was this one bee who was relentless in giving me a hassle! She was flying into my face (covered by the veil good thing!). She also stuck with me as I went to the porch to take off my gear. Usually by the time I get to the porch, the bees have lost interest. But not this one! I thought she was gone, and after I took off the jacket and veil, she returned! So I made a hasty retreat around the house into the garage.

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