Archive | July 2017

Lots To Do And Very Little Time

Ok! Lots to go over today but I’m going to try to keep it quick. All of my hives are doing great! The two nucs are both very strong and have 3 solid frames of capped brood in each of them. The stronger of the two colonies had more cappaed honey but that’s the only difference between them at this point. The hive that had laying workers (White Hive) seems to have corrected itself, so I decided to add the stronger of the two nucs and give them a queen. I put the honey super on the bottom, an empty deep box over the full one, with newspaper inbetween, and put the nuc frames in that. With any luck the bees will do what they need to and I can move frames around so they have two solid boxes!

I moved the second nuc slightly to the left, so any returning field bees from the strong nuc would go into into it. I’m planning on using this nuc to give the trap out bees a proper queen. They have a few queen cells on the frame I’ve given them but there won’t be time to raise a strong new queen before winter, and combining will give both colonies a strong boost of field and nurse bees.

I left Green Hive alone since I treated them with MAQS a few days ago.

After everything was done at home I ran over to the colony in the tree to make sure I had finally managed to seal them off properly  they had found an entrance on the opposite side of the tree some 10 feet off the ground. I shoved the hole full of duct tape and that seems to have kept them out. They were bringing in loads of pollen, which is interesting because none of the workers in the hive box I set out seem to be bringing any back… Obviously I don’t have time to properly complete this trap out but I will get a whole deeps worth of bees so that’s still helpful. I wish there was time to let them rob the tree because I know there’s a ton of honey in there, but I don’t think there will be. I’ll give it a couple more days and then go and bring the hive home.

All in all I would say this has been my most adventurous beekeeping year to date. I’d never made nucs at home before but I found them incredibly helpful and will do so again next year. I hope that with at least two strong colonies going into winter I will have some bees in the spring. The fact that I only treated them once this year does worry me, but I’m hoping the greatly reduced brood levels in all of the colonies will have kept more levels low as well.

 

Queens Galore!

Today I decided to check on the hives I have at home. I checked in on the two nucs and was thrilled to find that nuc 1 (by Green Hive) has 2 frames of capped brood and a third frame of half capped brood with a bunch of eggs. The queen is plump and honey colored. Nuc 2 has 4 frames of eggs, but the queen is noticeably smaller than the queen in Nuc 1. She’s a coffee color with light golden hairs all over her body.

White Hive is packed with honey, but they don’t have a queen which makes no sense to me. They had dozens of queen cells, all of which hatched, so I don’t understand how they managed to end up without a queen. Workers have started laying and eggs were scatered throughout the hive, including in pollen cells. I closed the hive up and did some quick research. In the end I decided to swap White Hive and Green Hive on the stand and add a frame of fresh eggs from Green Hive.  The idea is this will confuse the colony enough that the field bees returning to the wrong hives will correct the behavior of the laying workers. They should also attempt making a new queen with the eggs and that will indicate they’re ready to get a queen introduced. I’ll use the stronger of the two nucs for this.

The Trap out is doing really well! I checked in on them a couple days ago (and I’ll peak in on them tomorrow) and they have started rearing a queen. Pollen and honey are both coming in in abundance, so I’m interested to see how full the box is now. When I last saw them there were about 3,000 bees in there. I’ll do a more detailed post about that tomorrow!

Trap Out Day 1

Today I went over to my moms friends house to begin trapping a colony of honeybees that have taken up residence inside a tree. Thankfully the entrance is less than 5 feet off the ground and is in an easily accessible tree. I’ve never done a trap out before so I’m excited to see how this goes!

I began the process by using poultry netting staples to attach wire mesh over the crack of the tree. I was able to cover the crack perfectly and everything was going smoothly until I realized the bees were able to slip through the mesh. I’d managed to buy the wrong gauge of wire mesh, haha. Since I didn’t want to have to bother with spending another hour driving to and from a hardware store I decided to just fold the mesh back over itself and hope that doubling it up would be enough of a barrier. It was good enough in some places but not others, so I used duct tape to cover the rest of it.

Instead of making a cone out of wire mesh I decided to just buy plastic bee escape cones. I’m glad I did because otherwise I would have had to go to the store to get the right mesh. I fit this cone onto the end of a scrap piece of tubing I had, and then stuffed the open end of the tube into a hole I cut in the mesh directly in front of the entrance.

Here’s a pic of the finished work! Bees were piling up in random places around the mesh, only to disperse and reform in another spot later. The fork of the tree seemed to be the most interesting to them and I tried to use more duct tape to completely cover it. I’m going to check back in on it tomorrow and make sure the bees didn’t find any entrances. I also want to try and direct the tub so bees are forced to walk out directly into the hive I provided. Bees found the hive almost immediately and began fanning to signal others to follow suit. I’m hoping this all works the way it’s supposed to!

1 Sucesseful Nuc And 2 Undecideds

I checked in on the bees today to make sure everything was in order. I’ve been holding off on this check up because I’ve been asked to remove a colony of bees from a friends tree and I’ll need eggs from one of the hives I have to do it. More on that in a minute.

Green Hive is doing well but there was something off about the hive today and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it while I was working. There wasn’t very much honey in the hive, egg production has slowed although there were 3 solid frame size of capped brood and 4 frames that were about 75% capped. I think the adult population was just lower than I expected; which makes sense since all of the field bees are in White Hive. I didn’t see the queen in Green Hive but I did find a patch of new eggs. Pollen stores were also low, and it looks like the hive was short on cleaners as well. Because I need a couple of empty deep boxes for the bee removal I’ll be doing tomorrow, I moved frames around and made sure any empty frames were in the top box of the hive so I can go and grab them easily tomorrow. I put a bee escape in between the empty box and the boxes with bees in them.

Moving on to the nuc next to Green Hive I was thrillled to not only find a half frame of eggs but to also see the new queen! She’s full sized and almost completely honey colored. This nuc was full of pollen and was also working on capping honey. I will probably need to swap in some empty frames for them to expand on before too long.

The second nuc was less exciting, as no eggs or new queen were present. All of the queen cells in the hive had either been vacated or partially destroyed near their base. Varroa mites were abundant but I don’t think I can treat the colony while there’s not a queen. Honey and pollen stores were also reduced, and weirdly enough almost all of the bees in this colony had their heads stuffed in a honey cell. They were agitated but I couldn’t tell if they were being robbed or what was going on. Activity levels outside the hive weren’t above average, and actually all of the hives has had a noticeable devline activity over the last week. We haven’t had rain in ages so I’m sure nectar collection is down.

White Hive had not filled in the empty frames of their second deep like I had expected them to. The shallow super is steadily being filled with honey, but the second deep was almost completely ignored, except for a couple of full frames I put in this box as bait. I swapped the bait frames out with empty frames from the first deep and shook out as many bees from the empty deep as I could. I put this empty deep on top of the other empty one on Green Hive, planning to use this second empty deep while extracting the bees from the tree when it was needed. The bottom deep did not yield eggs or a queen, though all queen cells were empty in a similar manner to the other nuc. There were honey and pollen stores in this hive, and a half frame of white wax the bees had made on an empty frame.

I’ll check back in on the brood chambers of the hives in another week, but I’ll remove the two empty deeps from Green Hive tomorrow before I go to the tree.

And now for the colony removal! A friend of my mom’s has a colony that’s taken up residence in a tree very near, and facing, her house. I’m planing on using the trap out method to remove this colony, and will begin setup tomorrow. Since this is something I’ve never done before I’ll be posting much more frequently and posting lots of pictures to document the process. If anyone has done this before let me know! The idea is that you close off all but one entrance and then put a funnel there so only two bees can leave at a time, but can’t get back in. Then you put an empty hive body next to the entrance so the returning bees have a new place to take up residence. We’ll see how it goes!

 

2 Nucs, 2 Hives, Lots of Queen Cells

I took a quick peak in on the bees today to make sure they all were requeening themselves properly. Green Hive, which still has the original queen, is doing wonderfully with several frames of new eggs and lots of room to grow safely. I did notice mites again in this hive  but I’m not sure if I should treat them right now because I can’t treat the other colonies. Can you safely treat nucs?

Both nucs are doing well, having capped all of their brood and brought in more nectar and pollen. Both nucs had 3 or 4 queen cells in them, so I’m excited to see how everything goes with them! I’ve never made my own nucs before so I’m not sure what all to expect. One nuc has slightly more bees than the other, and they also made more queen cells as a result. One of the queen cells had a hole near the base, and I could see the almost fully formed queen moving around inside. She was still pale and her wings hadn’t really formed yet, but given a couple more days she might be out and about. I couldn’t tell if I had somehow made the hole while moving the frame, or if there was another queen running around in the hive somewhere who wasn’t trying to off her competition. Because this colony had so many queen cells I decided to pull open the weakest looking queen cell, just to get a look at a developing queen. This queen also looked like she only needed a few more days before she’d be ready to emerge. Her skin was still very pale and her wings were still shriveled, but her eyes were dark. She fell down in between the frames while I was extracting her from her cell so I didn’t get to hold onto her and take pictures.

I moved on to White Hive, which is located where the first hive was and as a result they got all of the forager bees. This colony had lots of everything, bees, pollen, nectar, and capped honey. They had several queen cells too, so not to count my eggs before they’ve hatched, it looks like everyone is on track for a sucessful split!