Archive | August 2017

Last Look Before Winter

I drove home to check on the bees one last time before winter yesterday. White Hive is doing exceptionally well. I rearranged all of the frames so that the honey was primarily in the second deep box. They have reduced down enough that only 3-4 frames were left in the lower brood box. I left the honey super on for them because even though they filled 5 frames of it, but there wasn’t enough honey elsewhere in the hive for them to safely make it through the winter.

Pink Hive managed to not integrate properly, even after 3 weeks. This is the hive that had the trap out colony in the bottom box, and a very strong nuc that was supposed to merge with them in the top box. The nuc I put in the top box ate through all of its stores and all of the field bees had left so there was a very small cluster of nurse bees left onto frames with the original queen. She was somehow still laying eggs despite no food coming in. A single very solid frame of honey was located several frames away from the brood nest, which I removed to add to the lower box. The lower box, the trap out colony, was PACKED with bees. They’d occupied almost every frame, but there was virtually no food stored. The queen from the tree was still running around, and is laying eggs anywhere she can find an available cell. This means that the second a cell is available it’s being used for eggs, which also means its the most spotty egg pattern I’ve ever seen. If I was home I would treat this hive for mites, but I don’t think it will matter since they won’t see it through the winter.

Since the colonies weren’t concerned with merging properly I rearranged the frames so that they were both in the lower box, with a solid frame of honey the nuc hadn’t touched acting as the divider. Obviously this isn’t something I would ever normally do, but all of the bees that were on the two frames from the nuc were brand new nurse bees and won’t go exploring or look to kill the stronger queen. I wish I’d had time to let them steal their honey back from the tree, and I had the ability to feed them properly before winter. We’ve had an extremely hot, dry summer so food has been hard to come by for all of the hives. The colony seems really reluctant to look for food through. My mom (who has been watching the hives from a distance) has said the cluster is always visible when looking through the entrance, and at night they beard out much larger than the other two colonies. I took the second box off because it was all fully drawn out empty frames.

Green Hive has significantly less honey than White Hive, but it’s doing much better than Pink Hive. I rearranged all of the full frames between the two deeps on Green Hive so that they were only in one box. There were 3 frames with very small pockets of capped honey on them that wouldn’t fit in the box, and they weren’t worth keeping a whole second deep on for the winter. With the colony arranged properly in a single deep, I closed them up for winter. The second deep I removed and set a few feet away, along with the other empty deep. The bees can clean them up for a day or two and my mom will put them away for me. I wish I had time to feed them all properly. All of the hives could do with a good boost of sugar syrup before winter. It would be nice if it rained a little before winter so that at least something would bloom again. This heat has been terrible for flowers!


When It All Goes Wrong At Once

So… Things have gone a little wrong. Green Hive has almost no honey stored. Like, virtually no honey at all. I didn’t check on Pink Hive because they’re still being requeened. White Hive was supposed to have been requeened by today but when I checked on them I was irritated to find that they hadn’t chewed through the paper at all. The box I put them in is one of the windowed boxes my aunt made for me a couple of years ago. The window is too high on the box so the telescoping cover hits it and doesn’t close correctly. Normally this isn’t a problem, as it just provides extra ventilation for the hive, but this time it means that there was enough of a gap for the bees to use it as an entrance. As such, neither the bees in the top box, or those in the lower box, decided to chew through the paper and are functioning as separate colonies. The colony below is queenless but had nearly capped a couple of queen cells. The colony on top is queen right, but because they have filled in almost all available space on the five frames they’re occupying (the other 5 are just wire/foundation) the queen is very limited in their movements and workers have started laying on one of the outer frames.

I moved pollen and honey filled frames from the lower colony into the box on top, giving them more stores and room to expand the brood nest. Despite an extreme lack of resources Green Hive is still maintaining a large brood nest between it’s two boxes. Obviously my goal is not to expand the brood nest significantly, just to provide extra room for the queen to deter laying workers. Green Hive has more than enough honey to make it through winter, they just have two separate colonies on the same box. The lower colony is the only one that had nectar ripening on a couple frames.

As I was working I did somehow manage to get stung on my right side, a little below and behind my armpit. I have no idea how this happened since I couldn’t have accidentally squished a bee between my arm and side here if I wanted to. It took me another 5-10 minutes to close up the hives properly, since I had to reapply newspaper and then also make sure the hole in the inner cover was blocked by a brick. The telescoping cover went on top of the brick, and then had another brick on top so it wouldn’t blow away.

Once I was back in my own house I used broad leafed plantain to neutralize the venom of the sting, and I also took the precaution of taking two benedryl. I hate taking shots so I’m really hoping symptoms don’t get worse, but I have noticed a little more swelling than usual since it took so long to apply the plantain, and my joints in my right arm and shoulder also hurt much faster than usual. I suppose I should go to the ER but it’s just such an inconvenience.

Anyway! None of the hives are ready for winter and I leave for school on the 14th! Not sure how I’ll manage to correct everything but helpfully it all works out!

And All Were Queen Right

I picked the trap out bees up last night instead of today because I wasn’t going to have access to a car that could hold bees comfortably today.  The hive is very full of bees, but I don’t know how they’ve kept themselves going because they have almost no honey. There’s a solid frame of pollen which is great, but honey is nonexistent. I opened the box up today and was very surprised to find a plump laying queen. Eggs were few and scatered, but she looked mature which makes me wonder if maybe she was the queen from the tree. She was a rich dark brown color. There was a swarm cell in the colony that had been visibly impacted, with a clearly cut ring around the entrance of the cell that the bees had resealed. I pulled the cell out and found the queen inside fully developed but dead.

Since they have virtually no brood I decided to combine them with my last remaining nuc. The queen in that nuc laid a solid frame of eggs, without skipping a single cell, top to bottom, side to side, which I haven’t ever seen in person before. The nuc also has a single capped frame of honey. I’m leaving for school this winter, so I decided to combine them with the idea that it would be easier to take care of a hive than a nuc, and the idea that the bees would be able to combine their strengths and get more honey before winter comes. The box is completely full of bees and they were boarding heavily when I picked them up. For whatever reason none of them seem keen on leaving the hive though, which worries me greatly. I don’t understand what’s happening that staying in the hive is a better option than searching for honey.

I used a spare deep to combine the nuc and trap out colony through the newspaper method. Once the colonies have successfully integrated I will rearrange the frames so they fit in a single box, since they only occupy 10 frames total between the two colonies. I plan on doing this with White Hive as well. Oh! The new colony is officially going to be known as Pink Hive. I had to buy a new base board and roof to get this colony out of the tree, and I thought pink would be a fun color to paint the new equipment. Here’s a picture from this evening of them gathering at the entrance!