Archive | May 2013

Wax Moth Potential

I opened the bees today because it was in the mid 60s. There is a lot of honey/nectar in the hive, but the bees don’t seem interested in drawing out wax. It may just be too cold. I couldn’t find the queen, but there were plenty of eggs visible, so I’m not worried. She may have been hiding up in the Warre’ box; there was a good number of bees in that today. Unfortunately I didn’t see any pollen, except for what I could see on the bees pollen baskets. A lot of new bees were out today though, so the pollen may have just been consumed all at once.

I noticed things crawling around under the screen at the bottom of the hive, and took the brood box off to investigate. There were a lot of little moths and grub things crawling around under there, so I took out the white board (my brain is nooot working today, so I can’t remember what that plasticy/cardboard thing under the screen is called) and scraped it clean. My first guess was wax moths, but the moths were smaller than the bees, so I don’t know that they were those… I don’t know, they were gross and there was a lot of them. I squished as many as I could and then just threw the brown mush into the garden. Which, looking back on, I shouldn’t have done. I did see some dead mites in that mush so there were definitely some in the last colony. I hadn’t been able to pull that white board- is it just a mite board? That sounds more reasonable… *sigh* anyway, it had been too cold to move it, and all the stuff on it was caked on. Apparently I haven’t been very good about checking that.  I’ll be better this year!

The bees seem to be doing just fine. The lack of pollen is worrisome, but I don’t know what I can do about that at the moment. I’ll have to see about getting some more pollen producing plants in the yard.

Healthy Honeybees And Black Bumbles

I didn’t get home from my internship until just before 5 on saturday , and by that time Doctor Who was coming on, so I didn’t have time to open the bees. That and it was raining off and on for most of Saturday. Sunday was nice and sunny for the most part though, getting up into the high 60s. There seemed to be less bees in the hive than usual, but several frames had bees emerging from them, so the hive should look a little different by next week. I’m almost worried about their numbers, but the fact that they have nectar ripening on two of the frames makes me feel better. And a great many bees should’ve emerged by now.

The bees had started to draw wax out on the frame I moved to the middle, but had tried to bring the wax out away from the frame funny so I crushed it down. There was lots of nectar in the hive, and about a frame of pollen. The bees had also tried drawing out some wax inside the warre’ box. I’d taken a chunk out of the bottom of the centre comb earlier in the year, to see what the issue was in Trunchen hive. This comb now happened to be right over top of the hole in the telescoping cover, and the bees seemed eager to fill it in.

On a slightly unrelated note, yesterday was rather nice, and while I was walking around the garden I managed to snap a picture of a bumblebee going into an iris!

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Taken with my iPhone! Isn’t she beautiful?!

Right after taking these photos I was walking down the steps to go back to the house, and a hummingbird stopped me. It began inspecting the red camellia that’s still in bloom, and I realized that it was covered in honeybees. I’d never noticed them taking an interest in it before. I saw several of them with full pollen baskets, which is understandable because that camellia has very pretty yellow pollen sitting in the middle of its wonderfully red flowers. I managed to get a picture or two.

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The flowers are starting to get crumby, but the bees didn’t seem to mind at all. I’d never seen bees on this, let along a humming bird. I’m glad its contributing more than just shade to the yard!

Adding A Warre Box To White Hive

I opened White Hive today, since I didn’t have time to do it yesterday. Its a good thing I did. There are only 3 or 4 frames without brood, and that’s because they’re full of capped honey. I cut open most of that, to encourage the bees to go through it and increase the space they have. The queen is nice and plump, but the bees have drawn out a couple of superseder cells anyway. I squashed them. There are 3 frames with capped brood on them.

Nectar is being pulled in, but not at the rate that I’d like. I think its mostly a space issue, so I’ve put one of the Warre’ boxes on top of the telescoping cover. The queen is more than capable of filling it in, and I feel better about adding that box than the second langstroth because its smaller and has wax drawn out. I would really really like to make at least two splits this year, and mixing the hive boxes should make it easier to do that. I hope. I’m debating buying a queen for when I do the split

There’s lots of yellow-orange pollen coming in, and numerous bees had it on their backs. Oh! And there was one frame that I had scraped clean and left on the edge of the cluster. I sprayed it with some left over sugar water and moved it to the middle of the brood cluster. The bees had drawn wax out on the tops and the bottoms of the frames, and there were eggs in most of those cells. I think they’ll have this frame drawn out by next week.

The bees were extremely easy to work with. I didn’t want to bother with the smoker, so I just blew on them to get them off of the burr comb so I could scrape it. This only bothered them enough to fly up and investigate me a couple of times when I first started doing it. At the end they were barely phased, and I had to start shooing them with my hive tool to get them to move. There were only a few bees that came up to see me throughout the inspection, but none of them seemed to actively seek a way into my suit. And none of them followed me away once I closed everything up. One did fly over to the spray bottle full of sugar I left outside, but that was the extent of their concern for me. I rather like them I think. I have yet to name the queen, but I did see her again today. I wish I could get a picture of her! The bees were so calm I was able to walk the frame away from the hive and show my mom, who was able to be out gardening while I had the hive open. A thing that was previously ridiculous to attempt. 

Anyway. Lots of pollen, some nectar, lots of eggs, a fair amount of capped brood, and a wonderful temperament. Oh, and the apple tree is no longer in bloom. The columbine are all up, and the iris. Almost all of our rhodis are blooming, which has never happened all at once before. The spider wort is in bloom, as are the raspberries and the lavender. 

April Showers Bring May Heat Waves

I opened the bees saturday to check how they were doing. There were bees examining all of the frames, but it took several frames to find even a small amount of eggs, and on about the 7th frame in I found the main brood frame, with the queen on it. She’s gotten very plump, and looks exactly like a tortoise in my opinion. Her coloration is the same as you would find on tortoise shell glasses. I think its great. I haven’t decided what to call her yet.

They aren’t expanding as quickly as I thought they would, but I think its mostly because they have so much cleaning to do. I had to scrape some of the crumbier parts of the wax off before I installed them last week, and those frames are the ones that are filled with brood and have been completely redrawn. There was about two full frames worth of brood I’d say, with most of it being extremely near the newly drawn wax. I’m debating putting a single warre’ box on top of the telescoping cover, with the rain roof on top of that, and letting them move into that. Its much smaller, but the wax is all a lot cleaner and would let them explode in population quickly. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that yet though, I think.

That said, I’m not worried about them at all. They have a ton of honey in there from when Tasha was still queen (such a short reign she had). I cut open a few larger chunks of honey to encourage them to eat out of that. They’re going to be swimming in it though with the weather we currently have. It was 82 today, and is supposed to be 85 tomorrow. I can’t believe it. We don’t get into the 80s usually until the end of July. This is beyond unseasonably warm. The apple trees are all in bloom, as are the bluebells and the turnips. The peas are blooming as well, but have slowed their growth given the lack of rain. That’s the other thing! There hasn’t been any rain in several days, and there isn’t supposed to be any form of precipitation until next sunday. We didn’t even have any clouds today, I don’t think. I’m going to dread this summer. I hate the heat. The hillside is already dry from the lack of rain and the summer-like heat. I think we’re going to invest in soaker hoses this year.

Several of the rhodi’s are blooming right now, as are the native blackberries that showed up in the juniper last year. The blue orchard mason bees especially love those. Oh and the lilac’s are blooming as well, but those aren’t very important to the bees, I just thought I would mention them.

Anyway, they seem to be doing very well! The field worker population seems a slight bit small, but that just may be me not accounting for the fact that there aren’t more than 10,000 of them for the hive right now. It’s odd to have such a small colony again!