Archive | September 2010

This One Is The Last

Today was in the 70’s and sunny, so I opened the bees for (what is definitely going to be) the last time this year. I found the queen, she’s laying lots of new brood. There’s LOTS of honey being made, which is a very good thing. I’m not sure if feeding right now would help or hinder them. On the one hand they definitely need more honey, but on the other hand feeding them could prevent them from searching out pollen and focusing only on the sugar water. The sugar water wouldn’t convert into honey quickly enough anyway.

I found the second queen. She’s much larger than last time, about the same size as the first queen, which makes me think she’s also laying. There were about four frames of egg new eggs, not quite yet larvae. The capped brood is hatching, so I think they’re laying in shifts. Normally you should be able to find bees at all stages of development in the hive. The eggs are either freshly laid, or are capped brood. There were only a few larvae in between.

Of course, no one was home to take pictures, which is a shame because I should really have this all documented to have something to compare to next year.

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Could This Be The Last?

Today was probably the last day I’ll open the hive until next year. That’s not true, I might need to feed them. Maybe not though, they seemed to have quite a bit of stores. There were two or three frames of new brood, and one of them was all freshly laid eggs, little pieces of white (much smaller that a grain of rice) sticking up from the bottom of every cell. I didn’t see either of the queens, but clearly there’s at least on in there. The bees were REALLY unhappy with me for opening the hive. There were more of them flying then I’ve ever seen. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when I’ve got two full boxes of them.

They seemed to have a good amount of nectar being converted to honey, but very little capped honey. There were pollen stores scattered about everywhere. The bottom box was virtually untouched, although the single frame I switched did have some pollen in it and several cells with a bit of nectar in the bottom. I left that frame next to the hive for the bees to clean up, and they were done with it in an hour or so. The bottom box had mold in it, which isn’t a good thing at all, and some of the larvae were looking slightly green, so I propped up the lid to help get some air flow threw the colony. Too much moisture is bad for larvae. Hopefully the colony does well over the winter. The less I have to feed them, the better. I think my biggest concern is the temperature though. The colder it is, the more honey they have to consume. I’m sure I’ll end up feeding them no matter what. I don’t mind though. Anything to keep the bees happy!

Queen(s) Found

I went into the hive today because it was too nice to waste. I didn’t want tot risk not having anymore good weather. When I opened the hive up there were two frames that caught my eye immediately. I picked up one of them and found a bee that looks like a queen. Here’s the clearest pictures.

She’s kind of hiding in the middle of the picture in the second pic.

I put that one back assuming that the bees had requeened and that was that. But then I went to the second frame that caught my eye and saw the queen that B gave me. She was definitely a lot bigger than the other one, because she’s been laying.

So, I don’t know if I’m going to have a swarm, or if I’m going to have a new laying queen soon, or if I’ve completely misinterpreted things and this isn’t a queen at all. I’ve sent these pictures to B, and hopefully he’ll know what to do. It’s just funny that I went from having no queen, to having two. I’ll definitely keep you posted.

B told me to stop feeding them however, so I’ll pause on that for a while. I feel like despite all the feeding, they still have less than what they started out with. I don’t know how that could be though.

Queenless

I opened up the hive today, and had a weird feeling. Something seemed wrong. I looked through all the frames, and couldn’t find the queen, and the bees seemed a lot less agitated then last time. It was only when I was half way through that I realized that there was no new brood. There was only a little bit of capped brood left, and that was beginning to hatch while I was holding the frame.

I fed the bees a quart of 1.5:1 sugar water today, as well as yesterday and the day before. Today I also put out another two cups of sugar water though. That was taken in without any trouble. The bees flooded out to drink the syrup.

 

There were several frames laden with sugar water honey, but no brood or larvae. To me this means the hive is queen-less. My sister is babysitting not far from B’s house, and I still needed to return the nuc, so I went with my mom to drop my sister off so I could talk with B. He suggested I look through the hive again in a few days, and if I can’t find the queen then I should call him and he’ll try and get me another queen from a friend of his.

He also said that this was a weird year, and that several people’s queen’s just disappeared. I didn’t have a swarm because most of the bee population is… maybe I did have a swarm. I can’t imagine I did, but the hive does seem a little emptier now that I think about it. It’s weird that they would swarm without leaving the colony with brood and a new queen though. I feel like I would’ve noticed a swarm is the thing. I mean, I guess if it was small enough, but still. *sigh* all I know is my colony is in danger, and if I don’t get a queen somehow then they’re going to die, which would be REALLY depressing. I’m depressed knowing that I managed to lose a queen. I’m going to open things up on Monday (oh the agony of waiting) and see how things are. I’m also going to stop feeding them (per B’s instructions).

Wish me and my bees luck!

Things I Should’ve Posted About But Didn’t

So, as you know I’ve been feeding the bees. I’ve been feeding the bees a LOT. They have consistently managed to devour the quart/four cups of sugar water I’ve put out for them daily. Here is a picture of them on the 7th, which I didn’t bother to post.

They managed to drink this entire thing before five pm, and I put it out at ten when I got home from school. They consumed a quart yesterday, and another today. Tomorrow I get to open up the hive (weather permitting) and see how they’re doing! There are some annoying pests that have decided to eat the sugar water syrup also though.

You see the large black hornets? They’re kind of bullies. I kill them on sight. Two days ago the bees had taken their fill of things, and the hornets were still looking the measuring cup over, so I sprayed it with raid. They’re big nasty things that try and shoo the bees away. There were over ten of them two days ago, so I felt the need to hinder the population. I’ve been trying to kill them with a piece of metal that was left behind ever since. I usually shove them into the sugar water quickly, and then squish them while they’re trying to get out. The last thing I need is a hornet’s nest. I hate hornets, and wasps and yellow jackets and the like. The less of them the better.

Anyway, just wanted to post and say I was still feeding them and that they’re gobbling it up about as quickly as I can put it out. I just hope it’s enough.

See you tomorrow, hopefully.

Sugar Water Out The Wazzoo

Despite it raining most of the day, the bees managed to devour an entire quart (four cups) of sugar water. I’ll be giving them another quart tomorrow. If THAT doesn’t give them a chunk of winter stores, then I don’t know what I’ll do.

Lots Of Pollen

For no other reason than I love to look at the bees, I opened the hive today. Despite being fed three pints (or six cups) of sugar water in the last three days they didn’t seem to have too much in the way of honey stores. I said I was going to stop feeding them (because I thought they would have enough) but I’ve decided that clearly 6 sups isn’t that much, and am going to upgrade them to four cups a day instead of two. Hopefully that will do something to their minimal supply. They have more than enough pollen though. Look.

 

There was this much pollen on both sides of the frame, and about half as much on another. There were other pollen stores scattered all over the hive, on the edges of the frames.

I decided to use the smoker today, simply because the closer it gets to winter, the more agitated the bees become due to the instinct to protect their winter stores. It was surprising how well it worked.

 

Before smoke.

While smoking.

Once they smelled the smoke they all went deeper into the hive. The change was astounding. Despite the smoke though, the bees kept attacking my hand. I got at least 8 stingers in my right glove alone. Thankfully I was wearing a suit, because otherwise that would’ve been really painful.

I’m worried that they won’t expand into their full size in time. There was a full frame of new brood (both sides were full), but it seems like the queen only lays once every few days. All of the newer frames still haven’t been completely drawn out. You can clearly see in this picture how they’re drawing things out.

All of the newer frames are similar to this. They haven’t even touched the other hive body, despite having to walk through it to get to the top part of the hive. I was hoping that having to use it constantly would encourage them to build on it. They keep building burr comb on the top edges of the frames, in an attempt to glue them together.