Archive | August 2013

Moving The Bees: Phase 2

I was able to open the bees today. It monsooned yesterday and the day before, with at least two inches of rain yesterday alone. Here’s a picture of my “lawn”.

photo

It rained like crazy for a bit, which allowed the lawn to fill up with water, and then it stopped and the water drained out. It rained again and filled the lawn up, and kept the water level like this for about an hour. Our lawn is horribly compacted sand. We had puddles all through out the garden, and plenty of little streams where the dirt was washing away. I’ve asked my mom for a couple of yards of good compost to help improve our soil. Its horrible right now.

Anyway, I opened the bees today and was disappointed to find that they had collected very little honey. One frame had nectar curing on it, and a small pocket of capped honey. I found a smaller pocket of capped honey in the brood nest and that was all. Queen Samantha has not slowed egg laying at all, and there were 6 frames of solid brood present. Well, solid meaning there was brood from the top bar to the bottom, but it was awful patchy on some of the bars. I think that may mostly because the bees were emerging today, but it was hard to say.

I expected there wouldn’t be much in the way of honey stores, so I brought a spray bottle full of sugar with me, and sprayed it all over the bees. They didn’t seem concerned (or even interested, even though the sugar ratio was 2:1) that I was spraying them. It was kind of odd how little they seemed to care about anything I was doing, actually. And there were wasps all over the place. I killed 4 of them, but the bees didn’t seem to care about them at all. I saw one walk right into the entrance of the hive, completely unchallenged. Except for the part where I squished it as soon as I could.

I don’t have any form of feeder for the bees, but I’m definitely going to have to get one because these bees won’t last a week without flowers. I did see a few of the bees without any hair on them at all, so I assume they’ve taken to trying to steal from other hives in the area. This year was extremely dry it seems like. My mom and I missed the rain so much that we walked around while it was dumping. I had to change my clothes twice in between the breaks in the rain because I got so wet.

I’ll go and check on my aunts bees soon. I expect that they’ve done better than mine have because they’ve got a lot more flower options in their area. And there wasn’t a break in egg laying like my bees had to deal with. I think next year I’ll buy a queen when I split them, instead of letting them make a new one on their own. That hasn’t seemed to go well for me at all…

Oh, and I moved the Samantha’s hive into the lawn. We desperately need to get back behind the bee’s area and clean it out completely. We’ll also need to do something to make sure it doesn’t wash out over the winter. Whoever landscaped this yard did a horrible job. All of the tiers slope, and we don’t have enough plants to keep all the dirt where it should be. I managed to get one shrub planted this year (a clipping of the native Red Osier Dogwood) and some Borage and Sea Holly starts came from my internship. Which should help the bees next year after the plants are established!

Moving A Hive

I finally opened the bees today. I can’t believe its already been two weeks since I last checked them. This summer is going by so quickly; August is already 2/3 of the way over!

The drone laying colony has very little food, but the bees are still bringing in pollen. Their numbers are dwindling, but they have managed to successfully cap a queen cell in the middle of one of their frames. I really have no idea how they’ve done that, but I’m just going to leave it. I squished all of the drone brood I saw, in the hopes that if there were any mites left (I didn’t see any) the eggs they may have laid would not survive. The bees were extremely agitated, and it was only after I had opened the hive that I remembered the rule that you shouldn’t open the bees in August.

I moved on to the hive with a queen, excited to see how they’ve progressed. They hadn’t moved up into the super like I hoped they would’ve, mostly due to the fact that they have almost no honey stores. They were even more agitated than the drone laying colony, and they had the numbers to be a nuisance. I moved as carefully as possible, but they still were fly aggressively at my hands in very large numbers whenever I reached down to lift up a frame. Eggs were laid in every available cell, and at least 6 frames were completely covered in brood. There was a nice blanket of bees on all of the frames with brood on them, but I still managed to find the queen. She looked healthy and plump! I really should name her. How about Samantha? That’s the name that’s just come to mind. huh. Samantha it is! It only took me how many months to name her?

My mom wants to completely clean out the bees area, because its full of grass and weeds and looks terrible. As a result I moved Samantha’s hive three feet forward, and turned it around so the entrance faces the hives old site. I also turned the drone laying colony to face away from Samantha’s hive, and I leaned Samantha’s hive stand up on the drone laying hive to create a clear barrier for the bees. I also put a log in front of the entrance of the drone laying colony; I’m hoping to deter drifting as much as possible. I think I’m just going to wait for the drone laying colony to die off. Buying a queen this late in the year, and with so little food available and with mites in the colony, is going to make saving them difficult.

Its been an extremely dry year. Our rhododendrons are wilting; even the large one thats under the cherry blossom tree and has shade almost all day. All of our native ferns have turned brown and are crispy. The peonies all have browned tips on their leaves and look burned. I can’t imagine there’s much in the way of flowers anywhere in the neighborhood. My neighbors have more flowers than we do at the moment, but that’s because they water constantly. Their water bill last month was $300.

Anyway. Samantha’s hive should be ok as long as flowers show up soon. I think I’m going to have to feed them. I hate doing that, but I’m tired of watching my colonies die. 

Laying Workers And Mites

I opened the bees on the 29th to see how things were going, but didn’t have time to post about it until now. My life is a little crazy at the moment (I think I’ll post about that on my personal blog when I’m done with this), so I wasn’t able to get to the computer and collect my thoughts until now. The 50/50 has completely failed. They have no queen or superseder cells, and the workers have started laying. I saw a couple of cells with multiple eggs laid at the bottom. On top of that, they have mites. I found two bees with mites on them while I was looking through the hive, so I removed them and squished all of the drone brood I could find. Given that they have mites, I think I will be leaving the hive alone and just wait for them to die out. Combining them with the other hive is no longer an option, and buying a queen to head a sickly hive seems backwards to me. I considered shaking out the bees and burning them and scorching the equipment, but that seems rather cruel and beyond me.

The hive consisting of only langstroth boxes was doing rather well, though the brood was slightly spotty. There was 4 full frames of capped brood, and a half frame of pollen to one side of the cluster. Honey was ripening on both sides of the cluster, with a relatively unused frame on the side farthest from the main entrance. I moved this into the middle of the brood to help the queen find more space to lay eggs. There seems to be plenty of honey and pollen available at the moment, so I’m not too worried about them. The spotty brood does bother me a little bit, but hopefully the queen is able to make it through the winter and all will be fine. Next year I may end up buying a package of bees even if Trunchen Hive does overwinter at my aunts.