Saturday, May 21, 2011

No Honey, Sonny...

The past week+ we have had a lot of cold drizzly rain - definitely note "bee" weather. My wife reported the last couple of days when the weather was nice, the bees were falling all over themselves to get out and go foraging. So I (silly me) was getting my hopes up to see some good nectar/honey collection in the upper super(s).

Today before lunch it was nice and sunny and around 72, so I decided to do a little inspection of the backyard hive. I also wanted to make sure nobody was poised to swarm (you'll recall a couple of years ago about this time, after a protracted period of rain, the brown hive swarmed).

The Brown Hive

Like a kid on Christmas morning, I anxiously cracked open the top cover of the Brown hive, and peeked into the honey super, to find... nothing. No nectar, no honey - just bees. They had not put anything up above for storage.

Continuing the inspection, I saw some brood in the lower chamber, but it wasn't covering the frame well like you'd like to see:

Is this a queen who isn't doing well in her job?

But when I got to the upper chamber, I saw good things:

And I saw the queen herself. Look for the white dot:

I was satisfied with what I saw - lots of brood, and even some young larvae (look closely at the bottom left portion of the first picture above). I did see a few queen cups along the bottom of some of the frames, but they were bone dry, and sometimes bees just do that.

The Pink Hive

Moving on to the pink hive, I was wondering if the honey super would be any different. Nope, exactly the same. Plenty of bees, but bone dry...

In both hives I started inspecting with the bottom brood box. This hive had a better amount of brood present in the bottom. Take a look:

There was a frame with a good example of young larvae, and eggs. The second and third pictures are closeups, and you can see the eggs (thanks to the black foundation):

And this is all in the lower box. Moving on to the upper chamber, I was amused at the row of bee faces looking up at me in between the frames:

The queen was busy in the upper chamber as well:


I saw something on that frame (above) which bothered me. Here's a (somewhat fuzzy - sorry) closeup of one of the bees:

You'll notice that the bee has some deformed wings. This is called "deformed wing virus" and is a sign of a Varroa Mite problem. I'll do a mite check next time to see how bad it is. But some of those frames of brood are just pretty!

So I was thinking of why the bees aren't bring in on honey. Bees are girls, and girls like to have color coordinated things, and I realized the hives didn't have matching colors. I fixed that!

So now girls, get to work! :-)

I'll probably go out to Sutton to check those hives later today...

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