Monday, June 17, 2013

The Price of Laziness...

So back at the end of May I installed a new package of bees in Sutton. It had the typical queen in a queen cage that I sat on top of the bars. Then I had a 2" shim under the inner cover so there was room for the cage.

What you are supposed to do is go back in about 3-4 days and make sure the queen has been released, and then set the hive right (remove the queen cage and shim, etc.).

Well... it was a little more than 3-4 days that I made it back to Sutton to check the hive. It was... 20 days.

So I was thinking the bees may have made a mess of the extra space under the shim. I was right. Here's what I saw when I removed the inner cover:



You can see that the bees had built burr comb (and none too straight!) in the space between the tops of the frames and the inner cover. You can't blame the bees - that's what bees do.

The comb just had nectar (or sugar syrup) in it. What I ended up doing was smoking the burr comb pretty much to get the bees away from it, then I scraped it off with my hive tool and set it out in front of the hive, so the bees could reclaim the food. You can also see a larger-than-normal gap between a couple of the frames - I had to scrape down a little burr comb there too to put the frames together.

Other than that little surprise, the hive is doing very well. Here are a couple of frames where you can see a good pattern:


This second picture is especially good - you can see a solid field of capped brood, with very little missing spots. The next time I visit that hive, there are going to be a lot more bees!

So far there is just the one have. I plan on making a second one, by making a "walk-away split" where I let the bees make a new queen. The next time I visit I'll do that, as well as add the second brood box for the hive that's there.



On a different note, I am mentoring a new beekeeper in the next town over. He's a retired vet, and this is his first year. He's had a difficult time with a hive which went queenless. He finally got a queen a week or so ago, and he is concerned she isn't laying. Since his hive has been without a queen for so long (weeks), any bees left are all foragers. and there aren't any nurse-age bees to tend the eggs.

I decided to take a frame of capped brood from my hive to put in his hive, to give it a jump-start so to speak. So Saturday I got up early to go to my hive to find a frame in the Brown hive. I took off the outer and inner cover, then went to lift the top super.

Uff.... It was heavy!

Wait - heavy? That means HONEY! The bees had pretty much filled up that super and I hadn't realized it! I was thinking that with all the rain we've had, the bees wouldn't have much nectar to gather. Shows how much I know!

After I took the frame, I decided to add another honey super. Hey, who knows - maybe the girls will fill that one up too!

So without a lot of work on my part, I have one super full of honey. Here's what the hive looks like now:


I'll add a super to the Green hive too. You never know - I may get lucky!

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