Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lazy Queen?

So I've had a nuc in a friend's yard for quite a while, and for some reason the queen is just not laying like she should.

Here's a nice shot of the entrance:

Plenty of bees coming and going.

The nuc has 5 frames. The first frame was totally dry. The second frame, one side was empty, the other had some nectar and pollen:

Then there were a couple of frames of meager brood - nothing like I'd expect from a solitary nuc with no competition. Then on the last frame, which was empty, I saw the queen:

I'm convinced something is wrong with her. There's no way this nuc will make it through the winter. So I'll probably combine it with the green hive (after pinching the queen)...

Inspection, Removal, and Extraction

On 9/5 I did an inspection of the backyard hives. It is getting late in the season, so I decided to also take whatever honey there was in the honey super and extract it. Last time I checked, there were about 5 frames which could be extracted. Since then there has been a nectar dearth, where there weren't any flowers producing nectar. I wasn't sure if the bees were going to eat any of that honey.

Brown Hive

This was the hive with the honey in the honey super. Look at this nice frame!

Last time I saw a lot of uncapped cells, meaning they hadn't finished evaporating down the nectar to become honey. This time I saw that there were either capped honey or empty cells - not a lick of unfinished honey to be found. My theory is that when they need food, they first eat the unfinished honey before they start uncapping the honey and eating it. That's a good plan - that means that I didn't have any unfinished honey to worry about!

In the brood chamber the queen is doing well also:

There was plenty of young larvae as well:

Pink Hive

The pink hive had absolutely no honey in the honey super - none. Oh well, they must be storing it below.

I saw the queen, and she is doing well:

Green Hive

The green hive also has plenty of bees, although it is only one brood chamber:

I added a second brood chamber with drawn comb, and I am going to feed the heck out of this hive to get it ready for winter.

So here's the take from the backyard hives: about 4 1/2 frames:

I finally got a chance to unbox the new extractor I bought a few months ago!!

Here we are, all ready to extract my impressive 5 frames!!

I use a regular serrated bread knife for uncapping, which seems to work just fine:

My youngest took this picture; he was fascinated by the hexagon pattern in the comb as seen in the cappings.:

The cage on the extractor can theoretically hold all 6 frames (as shown below), but because the frames weren't uniformly filled, it was unbalanced and shook like a sonofagun! Even with doing just 3 frames each time, it was a bucking bronco. But we got them spun out.

Here's part of the take. It was amazing how clear the honey was this time - last time it wasn't as see-through.

Again, I didn't plan ahead enough to purchase actual honey jars. So I did what I've done in the past and used Ball canning jars; half pint (which holds 11 oz. of honey) and full pint (with 22 oz. honey). I put a round label on the lid, as the jar isn't smooth enough to hold a sticker.

I then set all of the equipment (and wet frames) out for the bees to reclaim. They were having a heyday, as you can imagine!

This year's harvest was a meager 12.5 lbs, but it was enough to share with some friends and sell a few jars.

Now it's time to focus on getting the bees ready for the winter...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bees like Sedum

My wife has a couple of sedum plants in the front yard, one plant on each side of the front door. The flowers are now starting to open, and the bees seem to love it (both honey bees and bumble bees). In fact, I have to be careful when I open the glass door not to sweep bees into the house with the wind!

Here are some pictures. You may have to zoom to see the bees, as they blend in with the sedum flowers.

Nuc not thriving...

I visited the Nuc back on August 18th. You'll recall this is the nuc that I relocated from my bee yard on 7/21 to a distant yard in order to keep the other hives from robbing it. I would expect that it would have rebounded by now and started to show some improvement.

But here's what I found on the inspection on 8/18:

Notice the *very* spotty brood pattern. This looks a lot like a queenless hive - where most of the brood was hatched. But I found the queen:

(lower left quadrant) so I know she is there. Maybe she is a poor layer? The other bees haven't tried to supercede her (yet).

One thing that could be in play is that I noticed a lack of nectar in the comb. I had been feeding the bees sugar syrup (1:1) but haven't been very diligent in keeping feed on the hive. That day I added another 2 quarts.

I'll probably go out and check it in the next day or so, and take more feed. I need to think about moving it back to my yard, so I can get it beefed up for the winter.

Any thoughts and/or suggestions?
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