Splitting 50/50

I didn’t have time to open the bees yesterday, since I didn’t get home from my internship until 5, and my mom had friends over for dinner. There seems to have been a slight decrease in activity in the last few days, but since opening the hive today I wonder if I just wasn’t paying very good attention. The hive had a nice layer of bees on the top of the frames in the langstroth box. That may also be because it was very late in the day. I spent most of today working on the official list of plants I have to know for my final exam on Wednesday.

There was a fair amount of nectar in the hive, and lots of new bees. The colony’s color is slowly changing to a light almond color as the old bees are replaced with the new. I searched diligently for the queen, but didn’t find her. The warre’ hive was a lot heavier than last time, and they had drawn out the chunk of comb I’d cut out before I put the box on. I assumed the queen was in there since there was no sign of her in the lower box. A few of the frames had new bees emerging while I was working, so there wasn’t much space for eggs (though there were definitely eggs visible). On the right side of the hive, the second frame in was completely full of pollen, which I was very glad to see. The frame to the left of that one had 3 swarm cells drawn out, and one of them had an egg in it. I took this as a sign that it was time to split the hive. I destroyed the two empty cells but left the one with the egg in it. I’ll go back in a week and check White Hive to make sure they don’t have too many queen cells made. Or to discover the queen that the queen is actually still in that box.

I went over to the empty Trunchen Hive and took one box off. I flipped it over and cut the edges of the 3 comb that were connected to the walls of the box, then righted the box and removed them. I then went back over to White Hive (though I suppose its been more Half-and-Half hive in recent weeks) and took out a frame at a time to shake/brush bees off into Trunchen Hive. I brushed 3 frames worth of bees from White Hive into Trunchen Hive and then replaced the frames and closed up White Hive. Then I replaced the three combs from the empty box and put the Warre’ box from White Hive onto that box. So! I now (hopefully) have two hives.

I’m not worried about new queens mating successfully at all. One of the deep boxes from White Hive was full of honey, but extremely moldy and full of dead bees when I had first prepared the boxes to hive the bees in. I left it sitting outside for a good long while after I hived the bees and eventually they managed to find it. I moved it to the front of the house (I had originally left it on my back patio with the hope that that would motivate me to actually do something with it in a timely fashion) by the garage, but got distracted and it never made it all the way inside. Eventually so many bees were visiting it that I assumed the honey was still good, and rather than worrying about having to clean it myself, I took it back to the back yard and pull up a couple of frames and cut into them, leaving the bees to take care of the rest. There were several days of frenzied activity, and today I looked inside it to see how things had gone. The box was completely empty, and a nice pile of wax sat underneath the frames. Several bees were still inspecting it, and I noticed that a few of them weren’t mine. There were several that had shiny abdomens, and a coloring very similar to my bees last year. Which makes me wonder if maybe Agatha didn’t manage to survive the winter and head a new colony after all. Another bee was also hairless and shiny, but was completely black. Definitely not one of mine. So, (with any luck) this means there are at least two other colonies in the surrounding area, which means there are lots of drones for a new queen to pick from!

 

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2 responses to “Splitting 50/50”

  1. Emily Heath says :

    Sounds like you’ve lured a new colony in! Exciting.

    Generally beekeeping books recommend avoiding feeding the bees out in the open, as it can encourage robbing and spread diseases. You mentioning black, shiny, hairless bees rings a bell – it’s said that robbers will be shiny and hairless due to their hairs being nipped off by guard bees.

    It also rings a different bell – Chronic bee paralysis virus (CBPV), which is spread by varroa. Bees with this are sometimes dark and hairless – other workers will nibble their hair off because they smell different. Bees infected with chronic paralysis virus will be unable to fly properly, whereas robber bees will still be able to fly. See https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/index.cfm?pageId=275 for photos.

    • willowbatel says :

      I was really just letting the bees clean the equipment out more than anything. But yeah, I knew I shouldn’t have left everything out like I did, I kind of just wanted to see what would happen. The CBPV thing is interesting though, I sort of forgot about the disease factor, haha. Hopefully the bees aren’t too adversely effected. All three colonies seem to be doing well and have a fair amount of activity at the entrances. I’m excited to open them all up next week to see how things have progressed!

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