Saturday, July 9, 2011

Inspection 7-09-2011

The weather was very nice today, and I had a chance to inspect all of the backyard hives.

Brown Hive

This is by far the most populous hive in my backyard.  Here's what greeted me in the bottom box:


(the gap is where I had already removed a frame for inspection). I did a quick check of the brood chamber and saw lots of young larvae (zoom in and look at the lower left part of the frame):


as well as some good capped brood on a different frame:


This hive's been working on filling up a honey super for about a month!


They have about 6 frames like this, some more or less capped. There are 4 frames with no activity - not even drawing out the foundation. Another bee friend said she encourages her bees to draw out a honey super by spraying it with a diluted honey and water mix. I had about 1/4 cup of honey left in one of my jars, so I mixed it with some water, put it in a sprayer, and sprayed the undrawn comb.

I also decided to rearrange the frames to pout the undrawn frames in the middle of the box, since bees like to fill from the center outward. Well, a couple of the frames are drawn out way past the edge of the frame space, into the next frame (one of the undrawn frames was in that place). Rearranging things, I can no longer get all 10 frames back into the super! So I will be running this super as a 9-frame super. I spaced out the frames manually - maybe I'll have to get one of those 9 frame spacers.

Pink Hive

Lots less bees here, compared to the brown hive. That's to be expected, since it swarmed last month. Here's the top brood chamber:


You'll recall that I introduced a new George queen to this hive, and later I figured out it probably already had a queen in it. I was interested in seeing which queen is there. Well, I found out:


If you can't spot the queen, check this version of the picture.

Notice she doesn't have a white dot, and is a lot paler than the Carniolan queens George has. That means this was the queen that was already in the hive, and in all likelihood, the workers killed the foreign queen. That makes me sad - queens are a precious commodity in beekeeping; plus I shelled out cold hard cash for that replacement queen! Luckily I caught myself before doing the same on the White Nuc.

I snagged this queen, and marked her. But I used an orange paint pen, on the off chance the other queen is still in the hive and marked with white (orange isn't an official bee color, so if I see an orange marked queen, I'll know I did that).

Also, the honey super on this hive is bone dry (and undrawn). I did the spray on these frames as well. We'll see how this works...

Blue Nuc

Last time I saw that this nuc was low on food. I was going to feed some sugar syrup, when my friend Tom from work said, "I thought you took out some honey frames from your honey-bound hive. Why don't you give them one of those frames?" Duh...

So that's what I did. By doing this, I'll save from having to spin out those frames to make them empty as well!

Gray Nuc

This is the nuc with the newly purchased queen in the queen cage. They still hadn't released her - if they haven't by tomorrow evening, I'll let her out. The beekeeper who sold her to me said he was trying out using an actual piece of marshmallow. I'll have to let him know it looks like the bees aren't eating it...

I also added a frame of honey/nectar from the honey-bound hive as well.

White Nuc

Still doing well here. Sometime in a week or so I'll move it to the main hive stand and make it the new "Green Hive."



Interesting followup later on this afternoon: I looked out back and saw a ton of bees on the face of and going in and out of the Gray Nuc. I also saw a large cloud of bees going in and out of the Brown Hive. I recognized this scene - robbing! The brown hive smelled the fresh frame of honey I put in the gray nuc, and they wanted it for themselves! Even though the nuc has a small hole, there really aren't enough bees to protect it.

So I went to the gray nuc and spun the entrance disc to the closed (vented) position, effectively closing off the bees from coming and going. Let me tell you, the marauding bees were not pleased! Here's a picture from a couple of minutes after:


The picture doesn't really do it justice, so I made a video. Take a look (and listen):


The bees were also going after the Blue Nuc, but not as much. I went to my garage and cut a piece of 1/8" hardware cloth and duct taped it to the hive, blocking the entrance.

So tomorrow after Church I'll re-open the entrances, and see if the other hives leave things alone. Usually after a day or so the robbing stops.

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