Archive | March 2013

An Early Spring

Spring has come early this year I think. Yesterday and today have been very warm (all the way up in the 60s), and the bees have been taking full advantage of it. Dandelions are in bloom (too many of them being in our yard), and our yard has slowly turned to purple with all of the grape hyacinths that are in bloom. There is a steady flow of pollen going into the hive, which makes me confident that everything is well.

There have been lots of bumblebees in the yard, and it seems almost over night that we’ve collected a number of birds as well. They love the stand of trees in the yard two houses down. The three turnips in the yard all have about a foot of bloom stalk on them, and the yellow of the flower buds is clearly visible from the house. They haven’t started blooming properly, but they will be before too long.

Lots of things went to seed last year, and sprouted up anew all over the yard. There are dozens of “foxtails” (as my mother calls them; I’m not sure of their proper name) all over the place, which is good because all of the pollinators in the area seemed to enjoy them last year. We have a purple passion flower looking thing that has about a dozen starts sprouting up around it, which I think the bumblebees liked last year. Oh and even the dock we have (a kind of lettucey thing) went to seed last year, which it hadn’t done before. I’m not sure what pollinated it, as it has minuscule flowers and I never saw anything on it.

Forsythia is also in bloom all over the neighborhood. I was actually kind of surprised when I turned down a street I rarely travel and found all of the houses had the bright yellow shrub somewhere in their gardens. I’m not sure if the honeybees are interested in them, but I do think they’re exploring every option. I saw a honeybee on our lungwort earlier, which they’re usually not interested in. Unfortunately the fruit trees don’t look like they’ll be in bloom for weeks yet. There are cherry blossoms everywhere though, and last year the bees did seem interested in those.

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Exhuming White Hive

I finally took apart White Hive, thinking it wouldn’t be too messy and I would still get some honey out of it. Everything was covered in a mint-green powdery fungus. There’s lots of honey in the top box, but I have no way of getting it without it getting mold in it. So I think I’m just going to leave it for the bees. I plan on splitting Trunchen Hive, which is doing perfectly fine so far as I can tell from the outside, and putting the split on top of White Hive. I’ll probably just take one of the boxes with brood in it and put it on top of White Hives telescope cover. that way the langstroth box is still protected from the elements, since the Warre’ boxes are smaller all the way around than the langstroths. After they have sufficiently filled in the Langstroth’s box, I plan to drive all of the bees out of the Warre’ box and return that box to Trunchen Hive. 

Anyway, all that is still months away. Here’s some pictures I took of the lower brood box in White Hive.

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There were a few frames like this one, which makes me think that the cluster was too oblong and also too large when they died. I genuinely thought that I had experienced colony collapse disorder because there weren’t any bees visible at first glance. I went through the box frame by frame though and eventually found the cluster.

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I found a fairly decent pile of bees at the bottom of the hive. There’s a large pile up just outside the entrance as well, so I know that they bees were able to clean the hive out a little bit before they died. My guess as to why they didn’t make it through the winter is because they started out with too large of a brood nest. There were several frames with a few capped brood cells on them, and I found a fair few eggs scattered about as well.

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Here’s a picture of the queen. She’s in the exact center of the photo. She’s much smaller than she usually is, but the presence of eggs on other frames tells me it wasn’t because of her failing that lead to the death of the colony. There was only one frame in the bottom box that had been left relatively untouched, and there was white pollen in a large portion of the bottom of the cells. It was too cold to bother pulling a part the top box; the propolis was impossible to break apart, and there was no hope for a reward of honey haha. That said, I turned the box on its side, and saw that a noticeable portion of the lower edges of the frames had been occupied at some point, even with the noticeable weight difference in the top box.

I plan on leaving the top box alone, and scraping off the frames from the lower box. That way new wax can be made. I’m debating whether or not I want to remove the foundation from these frames, because the bees definitely prefer not having foundation. I was thinking I would just run wires through it or something… I’m not sure. Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. 

Bees Out And About

I meant to post this weeks ago when I first took the pictures, but obviously that didn’t work out. The bees have een out more and more with the increase in sunny days. Its a balmy 48 degrees out right now, and the crocus have all opened up. We have a couple of rhodi’s in bloom, and the camellias at the top of the hill are in bloom as well. a Pea that escaped being collected last year has sprouted up weeks early, and dozens of carrots from last years crop have sprouted. We even have carrots in the lawn. Dandelions are blooming everywhere, and the honey suckle and clematis are about to burst. Bumblebees of all colors and sizes have been seen flying about on the sunniest of days, and birds are finally starting to return. Oh and there’s lots of heather blooming around the neighborhood. I’m supposed to be feeding the bees, according to the president of my bee association, but I think that with three boxes of stores to work with, and lots of flowers in the area, my girls should be fine.

Here are some pictures!

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Theres a little bee collecting pollen!

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That’s all I have for now. I’m looking forward to finally being able to move things around later in the spring. I’m going to have to ask my cousin to start modifying the boxes pretty soon though. I really should get on that…