Sunday, September 9, 2012

Quick Check, and Woodworking

This weekend I did a quick check of the Pink Hive to make sure the bees had worked on the newspaper. It was almost gone, so I removed all of the other pieces; why make the bees do more work than necessary?

I also noticed that the bees were bearding a lot on the Blue Nuc. That's because the queen is doing her job of laying, but with only 5 frames, there is limited space.

So I decided to take a frame of capped larvae and bees from the Blue Nuc and transfer it to the Pink Hive. You can do that as nurse bees don't fight. I found one which was absolutely full of capped brood! I took an empty frame from the Pink Hive to put into the Blue Nuc to give the queen lots of space to lay. In a few days the Pink Hive will have extra bees available.

I am planning on overwintering the Blue Nuc. I want to get a "super" of deep frames full of sugar syrup honey when I start feeding.

I decided to build a 5-frame deep super for that nuc (I already have a 5-frame medium super). So I dusted off my table saw and went to work.

I reaffirmed something that I always knew - I suck at woodworking! I made generally straight cuts with the table saw, but it wasn't anything that I'd show to be proud of! It probably took me twice as long (at least) as it should have. I don't do it enough nor do I have a dedicated space - it's not a priority right now. But it is functional, and that's what the bees need.

After a couple coats of paint, all is well!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Even More Strangeness!

Since I had labor day off, I took some time to visit both bee yards for inspections.This is a long post with lots of pictures.

Sutton Hive #1

So last week I found a new queen in Sutton Hive #1, plus some supercedure cells. I wanted to go out the next week to see what was new.

Again, this hive doesn't look good - not too many bees in evidence when I popped the top:

I pulled out some frames, and saw the queen I saw last time (look for her on this picture). But I did not see a lot of brood:

So I pulled the next frame, and got a shock. See if you can see why:

In case you missed it, the next frame also had a queen on it - a queen marked with an orange dot (I used orange last time I marked a queen in this hive because I didn't have my yellow pen).

Now I always learned that there was exactly one queen per hive; but this hive decided to be different. I believe the orange queen is the mother of the yellow queen.

In any case, I saw very little brood. I moved over a frame of brood and bees from Hive #2 to give this hive a little boost. I decided not to do anything to this hive (i.e. take out one of the queens). I want to let the bees decide how they want to fix things up. Hopefully this hive can recover and build up for the winter.

It's very strange why we have a (supposedly) good queen, but no brood. I noticed that the bees were somewhat lethargic - maybe the bees got into some pesticides or something bad.

Sutton Hive #2

Taking off the outer cover, I saw plenty of bees here.

Where hive #1 is struggling, this hive seems to be making up for it. Look at the full frame of brood here!

I'll check back later to see if this hive finishes off some honey for me!

Back at the home front, I inspected some of these hives as well.

Brown Nuc

This nuc was making it's own queen, and last time I checked I didn't see any eggs. Well, today was different.

Lots of bees on the top bars:

And I saw a really good laying pattern for this queen!

So this nuc is doing very well.

One thing happened which was interesting: I accidentally blocked the front entrance with a frame, so the incoming bees were a little confused. After the inspection when I put everything together, the bees were all filing in. Here's a picture of bees with a lot of pollen on their legs (I think it's goldenrod):

White Nuc

The white nuc is doing well:

Grey Nuc

I have a mini honey super on this nuc, but they aren't putting anything of note in there (didn't think they would, but I had it so why not try).

This is my favorite nuc - the queen is doing well!

Here she is:

I accidentally blocked the front of this hive too (I need to work on that...) and the foragers were returning with the same orange pollen:

Pink Hive

The Pink Hive was queenless last time I checked, but I was hoping it could raise a new one.

Not too many bees on the top bars:

And one last check of all the frames (wasn't too difficult with so few bees) found zero eggs, no queen, and no new brood:

So I decided to use one of those nucs I had as "insurance" for a good cause - I did a newspaper combine of this pink hive with the white nuc. I consolidated all of the frames with bees in it in the lower box, and put the frames from the white nuc in the upper box. In between the upper and lower box I put a sheet of newspaper with a few slits cut in it:

The newspaper prevents the bees from immediately mixing, so they have time to get used to each other.

By the time the bees eat through the newspaper, they will be one happy hive.

Brown Hive

I put a "wet super" on this hive after last month's extraction (meaning I just put the frames back on the hive), and while it was a little heavy, they hadn't capped anything. You can see down the edge of the frames here:

The queen in this hive continues to rock! I didn't see her (didn't look too much), but saw lots of brood:

... and lots of eggs and young larvae!

When I was putting the hive back together, I got a kick out of a few bees "scenting" - they are fanning a scent from glands in their body telling other bees that here is home. This happens a lot when you take apart a hive - the bees help others find their way back home.

Green Hive

Good evidence of a queen in the green hive.

So here's the status of all of the hives:
  • Sutton #1 - strange 2 queens, not doing well
  • Sutton #2 - doing well
  • Brown Nuc - doing well
  • White Nuc - combined with Pink Hive (nuc is no more)
  • Grey Nuc - doing well
  • Brown Hive - doing well
  • Pink Hive - combined White Nuc with this hive
  • Green Hive - doing well

One interesting thing - when I did the combine of the White Nuc with the Pink Hive, it was done during the day when there were lots of field bees out foraging. Well, they came back to a missing home! Needless to say they were very confused. When I was done inspecting the other hives, I found a lot of field bees (as evidenced by the pollen on their legs) had landed on top of the Grey Nuc (which was next to the White Nuc):

Don't feel too bad about these bees - generally field bees returning with pollen and nectar are accepted into any hive (bringing food? come on in!). So these bees will be "adopted" by another hive, probably the grey nuc.

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