Saturday, August 7, 2010

Inspection 8-7-2010

My wife is sick with a cold, so plans for today for her are canceled. We stayed home and I took the opportunity to inspect the home hives. I wanted to especially see how the Pink Hive is coming along.

White Nuc

I am still maintaining this nuc, and recently put on a second story and also added a frame feeder. As expected, the frame feeder was empty, so I filled it up with more sugar water. The bees hadn't done much in the top box except to start drawing out some wax along the bottom part of a couple of frames. So I brought up a frame of brood to the top level in order to get the bees to start working up there.

Here's what the nuc looks like after I took off the top box - lots of bees; I like that!

There is lots of capped brood, so this hive is doing fine. I didn't see the queen when I was looking frame by frame, but when I put the frames back in the bottom of the nuc, I saw her scampering along the top of one of the frames. So she is there.

I did see something of a problem - I saw about 3 or 4 cells with white chalky bodies in them - chalkbrood. Chalkbrood is a fungal disease which is seen a lot when there are wet springs. We haven't had a particularly wet spring, but that hive is sitting in the shade a little, and it is reasonable that the moisture content could be high. I need to prop the top open a little to encourage air flow (that nuc has a screened bottom board anyway). As I was looking at the frame, I saw a worker bee pull out one of the mummified bodies and pitch it off, so that is good!

Green Hive

The green hive is the only one which I am not feeding. There was a good amount of nectar/honey in the hive last time. It's been a few weeks since I inspected this hive; last time I saw lots of queen swarm cells, but the hive hadn't swarmed.

Today I saw that the queen had been up in the top super (I took out the queen excluder to let the bees work the top a little more). In this picture you can see along the bottom there are some drone cells:

As I was inspecting the top box, I heard what I thought was some queen piping. I pulled out a frame and it sounded like it was coming from that frame. I flipped it over, and sure enough, I saw a queen bee! It was unmarked, and looked a little thin, so it could have been a virgin queen - especially since I heard the piping. Unfortunately, as I was looking at the frame the edge slipped out of one of my hands, and the frame jarred on the box. I lost sight of the queen then - I hope she didn't fall out (I looked around and didn't see any bees clumping on the ground like they would around a queen). I didn't see her on the frame; I can only hope she fell in the hive.

When I pulled out some frames in the middle box, I was surprised to see this - more queen swarm cells!

Some of them were capped; some open; and some got torn open when I lifted up the frame (since they were stuck to the frame below). I don't know what it is about this hive and swarm cells - they make them, queens get born, but the hive never swarms (at least I can't tell that it swarmed). I'm going to let it alone to let it do what it wants to do...

Pink Hive

The Pink Hive is doing well. Here's a picture of one of the frames in the top super:

It's interesting to note that there are about 10 queen cups on this frame. A queen cup is the starts of a queen cell. It's not always something to worry about, especially if the queen cups are empty - these were all empty.

When I transferred the nuc to this hive, I saw some chewed out queen cells. When I looked for the queen, I found her:

She's in the upper left corner of the frame, and you'll note that she is marked. That means she was the original queen that I marked when I found her in the nuc. I don't know what was going on with the swarm cells I saw in the nuc before, but they didn't supersede this queen.

I refilled the sugar syrup jars on this hive as well. Here's how I feed:

I use quart jars for feed. Some people use gallon buckets - I suppose I could do that, and I would have to fill them less often.

I also switched the entrance reducer to the "medium" position, as the hive is strong enough to defend more of the entrance.

Brown Hive

The Brown Hive is also being fed to encourage the queen to keep laying. And she was doing a great job. There are many frames of capped brood, and the hive is doing well. I didn't see the queen, but saw some brand new eggs so she is doing her job.

The bottom brood chamber continues to be almost entirely empty, but I am not messing with things. I saw a few cells of capped brood, so I know she knows how to go down there.

As I was closing up this hive, I saw some bees "scenting" - broadcasting a "the queen is in here" odor for other bees to find their way. It was cute, them with their hind ends in the air. I took a couple of pictures:

Also, an update on the honey situation. I am pleased to report that I have sold all of the honey - a lot of it to people at work. I took in a small jar and gave people tastes of the honey. That was usually enough to convince them to buy a jar!

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