First Inspection After Split

It’s supposed to rain today and tomorrow, but since it was so nice when I got home I figured I should open the bees because I didn’t want to risk not being able to do it until tomorrow.

Trunchen Hive is doing very well as far as I’m concerned. 3 full frames had been drawn out in the top box. They were solid white and contained honey, pollen, and even eggs and larvae! I know I’m not supposed to pull those frames out to look at them, but I figured doing it just this once would be ok.

Here are some pictures my mom managed to take from the house.

They had a slight arc to them, but it wasn’t too bad and they were so fragile I didn’t bother correcting them.

Unfortunately the bees had attached this frame to the one next to it. I had to break them apart (it was easier than cutting butter) to examine it. This frame also had eggs on it, like the first one I pulled out. I would like to note that these three frames were right next to the edge of the hive, instead of the center like one would expect.

The bees had started drawing out a forth frame. It was neat to see how they began drawing out wax, since the other frames were fully drawn out.

Handling these frames was a PAIN. They’re so small and light they moved at the slightest touch after I loosened them from the propolis. You can see in the above picture that the girls had glued the cloth down to the frames very nicely.

I wanted to get a peek at the lower box, to see if they had done anything in that, but unfortunately the bees had glued the frames to the bottoms of the wax from the upper box, so the frames pulled up and then fell, causing havoc in the lower box. I had to then painstakingly put all the frames back in the lower box, and task that was all but impossible because the frames were so light they kept sticking to my gloves and then falling back into the box when I took my hand away. I won’t be separating the boxes that way again. With everything well in Trunchen Hive, I moved on to White Hive.

The bees aren’t too interested in moving up into the super, and as a result the upper deep is being filled in as more and more brood emerges. I have a feeling I’m going to have to harvest a few frames of honey out of there before the year is done, because they’re going to run out of brood space fast. I only got 4 frames into the hive before I decided to stop. I counted at least 7 queen cells, the largest of which were the 3 swarm cells that I saw last week. I decided to stop because the girls had attached that cells to the box bellow, and I broke it in half when I pulled it out of the box. Thankfully the larvae remained at the bottom of the cell and appeared unharmed. I gently put the frame back in the hopes the girls could save her. The swarm cell to her left was unharmed and almost capped.

There were lots of little emergency supercedure cells higher up on the frame. They were extremely small and drawn out oddly. All were capped, but they looked ugly and definitely weren’t large enough to support a proper queen. There was one healthy sized cell that the girls had drawn out away from the frame, instead of sideways into the comb like most of the other cells. That one was capped. The fact that they had made more than 4 supercedure cells – oh look, there goes a bee carrying away one of the girls I accidentally squashed today. Anyway, I’m really concerned that White Hive will swarm, despite my having split them, because there are so many queen cells being raised. Does anyone know if over 7 queen cells, including swarm cells,  is too many? I was hoping the bees would just raise the swarm cells as the next queen. I wasn’t expecting this kind of mass production they’ve got going on. Any and all advice is very welcome!!

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7 responses to “First Inspection After Split”

  1. Deborah DeLong says :

    Do you have Michael Bush’s book on Practical Beekeeping? He says to ignore the Queen cells because the bees will settle things for themselves… 🙂

    • willowbatel says :

      I don’t! I should get it though, cause right now I only have two bee-books, and only one of them gives specific instructions on what to do. The other basically just says, put your bees in a box, add boxes if necessary (though how you know when that is, it doesn’t say) and then tells you to harvest at the end of the year. Except it doesn’t tell you how to do that exactly either.

      • The Honeypotters says :

        What books do you have that you would recommend? Right now I just have The Backyard Beekeeper. Another bee friend of mine highly recommended Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture, but I’d like even more suggestions for my book list.

        • willowbatel says :

          The book that I’ve got is ‘Hive Management ~ a seasonal guide for Beekeepers’. Its a great book for beginners in my opinion because it goes through all the major aspects of the hive and gives fairly specific instructions in my opinion. It doesn’t address diseases really at all though. It does talk about pesticides (pests for the bees rather), but whatever. Its a nice book that’s an easy read (muuuch easier to get through than the Warre’ book I’ve got) and you just take away from it what you want to, like anything really.

  2. Emily Heath says :

    Hmm the problems you’re having inspecting put me off top bar hives. Foundation frames are much easier to handle.

    I can’t remember, do both hives have a queen at the moment? Or is the one raising queen cells currently queenless?

    • willowbatel says :

      These hives were designed to be left virtually alone all year. The book written by Warre’ says that you should nail down the frames so they don’t move. You’re supposed to treat each box like its one thing basically, instead of 8 things. I will say however, the fact that they’ve drawn out 3 frames completely in a week is definitely something that’s nice. I’ll be surprised if I don’t get honey from them by the end of the year.
      The one raising queen cells is currently queenless. I took the queen from that hive and put her in the new one to help keep the swarming urge low and to make sure the new colony would have eggs quickly. Otherwise it would’ve been a mess trying to fit a deep frame into those two tiny boxes and would’ve resulted in the bees drawing wax out everywhere.

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