Archive | July 2013

A Hive Without A Queen

I was disappointed to find that the 50/50 hive had not successfully raised a queen. One had definitely been reared, but it appears as though she did not successfully mate. there were pockets of drone brood scattered around the hive, with drones emerging from them, and dozen that had already emerged sauntering about. I couldn’t find the queen, and almost thought the workers had gotten rid of her, but I found several random queen cups, some with larvae a few days old that were flooded in royal jelly, and others that had freshly laid eggs in them. The bees were bringing pollen in, and there was a frame on the right side that was full of it. I saw an egg that had actually been laid in the pollen, which makes me wonder if the bees haven’t started to become drone layers. There were only 4 eggs that I saw though. Everything else was capped.

I really wanted to find the queen to that hive, but I couldn’t so I moved on to the colony that I knew had a queen. I found her in seconds, but she hadn’t done much more egg laying since the last time I’d inspected the hive. There were 3 full frames of capped brood, one of which had a small portion of brood that was much too young to be capped. Young larvae were also to be seen in spaces around the edges of the frames, which makes me wonder if they just took their time getting through the honey stores and that’s why those spaces were filled in later. A 4th frame had newer larvae on it, and on the frame next to that one was a large amount of honey stores. I moved an empty frame in between the newer larvae frame and the full frame of brood next to it, in the hopes it would encourage the queen to increase her egg laying.

I’m not quite sure what to do about the 50/50 hive; the one without a functioning queen. Do I wait and let them sort things out for themselves with the new queens they’re raising, or do I buy a new queen for them and hope they take to her? I can’t imagine these queens they’re raising are going to be too successful. And then if the workers have started switching to egg layers I don’t really know what to do to correct that. I’ll talk to my mom about buying a new queen tonight. I need a second hive tool anyway; I may buy a new queen while I’m at it. What do you guys think I should do?

Oh, and I took one of the warre boxes off of the 50/50 hive, because there was no reason to keep it and stress the bees with trying to heat it at night. I left the top warre box on because I don’t have any other way of roofing that hive. 

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Trunchen Hive Gets A New Home

Sorry its taken me so long to post about this. The warm summer weather has kept me off of my laptop for a while now.

On the 7th I moved Trunchen Hive to my aunts house, around 7:30 at night. My cousin was unable to come any earlier, but it worked out for the best I think. It was relatively easy (I moved the bottom boxes and the floor of the hive into the back of my cousins truck, then moved the top two boxes and the roof and put them back on top before strapping everything down) and the bees were perfectly clam. I really hope they over winter well because they’re extremely well behaved and I’d love to keep them around for a while. Its nice to be safe in my own back yard again, haha.

On the 8th I moved the two White Hive boxes around, so that the top box was moved to Trunchen Hives old location. I don’t have a second bottom board for White Hive, so I had to make do with a large piece of granite that the people who lived here before us left behind. Its about half an inch too thin, so the sides of the box hang over the edges a little. Its got rounded corners on one side though, which was nice, and it’s a little short, so I put the rounded edges in the front and made the flat side flush with the back. The bees now have two small entrances on the left and right corners of the front of the box to work with. There’s not anywhere convenient for them to stand to fan air into the colony, but I put the super on and raised the roof up a little in the back, so there should be more airflow.

The bottom box of White Hive stayed where it was, and I put two Warre’ boxes on top of the hole on the telescoping cover. I’m hoping this allows me to move all of the bees up into these two boxes, and then remove the langstroth box and place it back under the colony with no bottom board. It also means I will probably have to harvest some honey from the langstroth boxes, because the reduced egg laying while the queens where being raised allowed the bees to put honey in space that would normally have been occupied by the brood. We’ll see what happens!

Trunchen Hive is doing fine at my aunts, as far as I know. I should probably head over there sometime in the next few days to see how things are going, and to add another box onto the colony. With all the clover in her area they very easily could fill a fifth box with wax before the end of the season.

I’ll open my hives up sometime in the next few days as well (maybe tomorrow?) just to see how they’re doing. The timing of things is really based on how quickly the hive with two different styles of boxes moves up into the warre’s. The sooner they move up there the sooner I can rearrange things and provide more space for everyone. Certainly not conventional, but it seems to be working ok so far!

Three Official Hives

The bees in Trunchen hive seem to be doing exceptionally well, and were in desperate need of room. Pulling all of the comb apart to get a good look was out of the question, so I settled for just pulling the boxes apart and examining the bottoms of each comb. 4 or 5 had capped brood, and no swarm cells were visible. That’s one thing I really like about this hive style, if the bees are going to swarm, the cells will be drawn out right where you can see them on the bottoms of the comb. I added a box to the bottom of the hive; I was going to add a second box, but since this hive will go to my aunts I didn’t want to have to deal with moving that many boxes. If the hive was going to be moved today I would’ve just until it had moved, but given the lack of space I think having the third box on until the weekend will be good.

Moving on to the top box of the white hive, I was excited to see lots and lots of honey being ripened. On the 5th frame I found the new queen, along with half a frame of eggs. Pollen and honey are abundant, so this colony should do well. If I had the extra boxes I would’ve added one on because the amount of honey was definitely constricting. There were three frames untouched on the edges though, so I moved those in. The queen is plump from laying all of her eggs and was a consistent, beautiful golden color. I wish I was able to take pictures! My mom got home right as I found her so I walked over and showed her off, haha. I plan on moving this box to where Trunchen Hive currently is, so the field bees from Trunchen Hive have somewhere convenient to go.

Now that its time to do all this moving around I’m starting to wonder how its all going to work, given I only have enough roofs and floors for one hive, haha. I may need to do some emergency shopping…

I tried peaking into the bottom box of White Hive, but the bees were extrememly unhappy to have the confused field bees of the upper box landing on their frames, and several bees were actively trying to rip the fur off of them. I decided to give it up, since the frames were stuck together too well to just quickly scan the middle frames for eggs. The large population makes me think there’s an active queen. I quickly replaced the telescoping cover, and the burlap the covers the hole so the field bees from the top box could land safely again. The bees in the top box had successfully chewed a hole through a part of the burlap (and were struggling to remove it from the entrance when I first opened things up), and the bees in the bottom box had tried half heartedly to chew through the bit exposed through the telescoping cover. I folded the piece in half again, so that it’s now four layers thick, and covered the hole. I put the top box back on the telescoping cover and angled it so that the back corner on the right side (when viewed from the back) hangs over the edge. The field bees happily reentered their home, and I put the roof back on as well. I decided to put a small piece of wood in between the roof and the frames in the ‘back’ of the box (its actually the front of the hive, i.e the side of the box viewable from the house and where the bottom box’s entrance is, but because the entrance for the top box is opposite the lower box, its the back. Confusing, I know) because the bees are definitely too hot in the current set up and the extra space should allow more airflow. The bees were fanning air into the hive through their small main entrance on the right, and their even smaller unintentional entrance on the left. The bottom box had fanners at their door, and there were about twice as many bees working to cool Trunchen Hive. It was 80 today, and much too hot for my liking. It should only ever get to 75 in my opinion. Theres a reason I live in a state where it rains 9 months out of the year!

So yeah, I finally have three hives in my life again. Eventually I would like to take all of the bees out of the top box on White Hive and put them into a Warre’ Hive, but that may take some finagling so that there isn’t another break in egg laying. I definitely don’t want to go into the winter with too few bees. We’ll see how it goes!