It's been over a month since I inspected the Sutton hives, so I decided to pay them a visit. Remember last time the hives had almost completely plugged up the queen excluder, which I think made the bees believe that it was the top of their hive, and they didn't put any nectar in the honey supers.
Well, a check today showed no change - still bone dry honey supers. Last time I used my hive tool to open up the excluder grate, but they closed them back up again. They were even desperate for places to put honey, that they built some burr comb right under the queen excluder and had filled it with honey!
At the Mass Bee field day there was a Brushy Mountain booth and there I bought a couple of plastic queen excluders to try.
Here is the before:
And here's the after:
I hope the bees figure out that there is an attic in their house! Sutton is usually a good location for honey collection.
Now on to the hives in my backyard.
Good pattern here:
I even saw the queen! (not too hard to do in a 5-frame nuc, usually):
Saw the queen (marked), and saw brood. Sorry no pictures of that nuc!
This nuc continues to struggle with a little bit of chalkbrood. See the white things here:
The white things are bee larvae with chalkbrood. So far it's not too bad - need to just trim away more of the foliage to give it more sun.
BUT... I did see eggs and brood, so it has a queen! Here's one of my favorite types of shots - shows the eggs along the bottom of the picture, then as you move upward you see successively older and older larvae. This shows how the queen lays eggs first in the center, then spirals around the edges.
Even with this evidence, I still wasn't able to find the queen. It shouldn't be hard in a 5-frame nuc, but she has eluded me...
One of the things about this hive is that they make a ton of propolis! It's a very hot day, and that stuff is like sticky putty glue. I had a hard time getting the inner cover off of the hive, and here's why. This is a shot of the top of the frames. Those peaks are where the gummy propolis pulled apart.
I didn't expect any surprises when inspecting this hive, but once again, what do I know. Here's what I found:
In the previous two pictures you can see lots of chewed out queen cells. It looks like this hive decided they needed a new queen. I don't think it swarmed, as you can see there are tons of bees still around:
But I didn't see any new eggs or brood. The picture two above you can see the older brood in the outside rim of a pattern. If there were a queen, she'd be laying in the newly freed up cells. So I suspect there may be a virgin queen running around. Got to give it more time.
I did find a few frames with what looked like unhatched queen cells on them. I decided to pull a couple of them, plus a frame of honey, and put them in the White Nuc. The White nuc was pretty much gone by then - only a couple handfulls of bees left. So I just added these frames to the nuc to see what they will do.
Hallelujah! They finally started using the honey super! Here's one frame where they have started drawing it out and filling it.
This is the only one so far, so they have a ways to go.
Good brood in this one as well. Note that I've been "stealing" from the brown hive when I needed to move a frame of eggs and brood to the other hives. Since this one isn't putting away much honey, I can afford to steal some of the (future) workforce.
Still no queen - stole a frame of eggs and brood from the Brown Hive to add. I did notice there weren't any more eggs being layed by the laying worker, so the frame of eggs and brood brought over from another hive did it's job of suppressing the urges of the laying workers.
So here's the tally of the Nuc status:
- Brown Nuc - laying queen (marked)
- Blue Nuc - laying queen (marked)
- White Nuc - brand new with queen cells from Green Hive. Expect something around 3 weeks from now (Aug. 4 or so)
- Grey Nuc - laying queen
I'll probably put an ad in CraigsList to sell one or more of my queens.
Here's a shot of the main hives, complete with bees hanging out on the front porch: