Today being the first day of summer I decided I should check in on the bees again. This is the largest colony I’ve ever managed and I truly cannot believe how much honey they have already amassed. The shallow super was almost completely called, as was the deep super. The second deep super I put on a couple of weeks ago was still completely empty, but that’s more so because the frames themselves have no wax on them yet. All of the boxes (save the completely empty one) were astoundingly heavy and bursting with bees. Once I made it to the top brood box I was thrilled to see a couple of new frames of eggs, and a little surprised to see new swarm cells. The hive is definitely packed with bees but there’s room to grow still and with a new queen in charge I assumed the break in eggs would mitigate the urge to swarm. I had been planning on splitting the hive before they superseded their queen, so I decided I would go ahead and do that today since the new queen was obviously doing well for herself. Overall I saw about 30 new swarm cells in the hive.
I have two spare cardboard nuc boxes from when I bought bees last year, so I wanted to try making nucs myself, and I thought it would be easier because the new queen wouldn’t have too many eggs yet. I’m not really sure why I thought this, because as I began filling the two nucs with 2 frames of honey, 1 frame of eggs, 1 frame of capped brood, and 1 frame of pollen each, I finally moved into the first brood box. This box was filled, almost picture perfectly, with a frame of honey on each side, a frame of pollen next to those, and then 6 frames of capped or semi capped brood in the middle. Seeing this made me realize that making two nucs was going to do virtually nothing to reduce the urge to swarm. So I grabbed my second hive floor and roof and decided a proper split was also necessary.
So, Green Hive is now placed on the opposite end of the stand, i.e. the far left side. Green Hive has the new queen, 2 frames of capped honey in the lower deep, as well as one frame of pollen and two frames of brood in various stages. This hive has the deep super that was full of semi capped honey, and each box also has 5 empty frames from the two nucs. Green Hive also has the empty deep super.
White Hive is now where Green Hive was, on the right side. This hive has Green Hive’s first brood box, the second deep honey super, and the shallow super. All in all this was probably my most elaborate day yet, and I’m really hoping it all works. My mom came home later today and said one of her friends is breeding queens that he would sell to me, but I think it’s too late to put queens in the new hive and nucs. Here’s a pic of the new arrangement! Oh, I almost forgot to mention. I had a scrap piece of corrogated roofing material that I put on top of the two nucs, because even though they’re plastic coated cardboard, they’re still cardboard. The cover was just the right size to protect both of them, and I’ve put bricks on it to make sure it doesn’t blow away in the wind!
I didn’t realize exactly how long it had been since I checked on the bees until I peaked in on them today. They have FILLED the super and third deep with honey. I’ll likely have to take the super off before the end of July because they have capped more than half of the honey in it already. The third deep box is 50% capped at least. I was planning on splitting the hive today because I knew they would be close to packed by now, so I was only slightly surprised to find 13 swarm cells on a frame. Deep box #2 had full frames of capped brood and lots of pollen so they were certainly well prepared for a swarm.
the bottom box was ominously light, and the first three frames I picked up were almost completely empty. The fourth frame had a small cluster of capped brood that was closer to emerging than being capped on one side. On the other side was a supercedure call that had very obviously been used and partially removed. I searched all of the frames in the hive but I didn’t see the new or old queens, but on the frame next to the supercedure cell there was a cluster of 4-5 day old larvae.
I suppose the good news in all of this is that it breaks up the varroa mite’s lifecycle. I had pulled a frame of drone brood from the colony the last time I worked with them and put it in the freezer. I took it out of the freezer today to put back in the colony and found several mite’s had crawled out onto the cell caps while they were in the freezer. The last time I checked on the bees I saw several mites and had planned to treat them next week once it was consistently warm enough. I’ll wait to treat them now that the queen has been replaced, but I would still like to get a second colony so I know I’ll have bees next year. Oh and I forgot to mention I added another deep box to the hive. I’m worried they’ll fill in the brood best with honey before the new queen has a chance to properly start laying, so I’m giving them more room to deter that.
Here’s a pic of two frozen mites on capped drone brood (see top left corner and bottom right corner). And here’s my beehive!
The bees are doing very well for themselves this year. I checked on them today and found they were still reading brood in the super. There were a handful of swarmcells on one frame in the top deep, but I squished them. There were only a few unoccupied frames between the two deeps (though there were about 5 unused frames in the super) so I decided to add another deep box. I wanted to split the hive, but there weren’t many fresh eggs to pull out. All of the usable space in the colony was going towards honey and pollen storage, save a few frames on the edges. I found the queen and saw she was a little smaller than a queen that’s laying full tilt.
Drones are everywhere in this hive, and I pulled a frame of drone brood to put in the freezer. I saw 3 mites on bees while I was working, and I plan on treating them next month. Despite how sunny it was today and yesterday, it’s still too cold for mite treatments. There’s also a ridiculous amount of pollen in there too. Every frame I saw had pollen stuffed in it. I rearranged the frames so there are more empty frames available to the queen, and I’m hoping this increases egg laying. I want to split this colony this year so I’m hoping she fills in a couple of new frames by the next time I check on them!
as the hive stands now, there’s a green deep on bottom, a white deep in the middle, a green deep on top, and a white super above that. it certainly makes the garden more interesting, haha
I checked in on the girls again today, since temps have been consistently warmer and flowers are everywhere. They have started moving up into the second brood box and there are 5 full frames between the two deeps of ripening honey. Pollen is tucked in everywhere, with about 3 full frames scattered around the hive. Drones have also started showing up, and one of the drone frames from last year (which I accidentally left centrally located in the top brood box) has been filled. 5 frames of capped brood are in the lower brood box, a frame of fresh eggs is in the top, and there were 2 small frames emerging in the super.
I moved the super, which I had left on the bottom of the hive, to the top. The bees were just starting to emerge from the frames in it so I wanted the box up where the honey should be going. I’m also hoping it reminds the bees they still have lots of empty frames to work with. They had a superscedure cell forming in the top box but I squashed it. I moved a few empty frames in closer to the brood nest, and pulled the full secondary frames of honey away. Everything is looking really good!
I checked on the bees today! I can’t say how happy I am that they’ve made it through to spring! I overwintered them without taking any honey and I used mite treatments last year and it seems to have made a difference! Also, quick prelude of the hive arrangment just for clarity’s sake. The hive is currently comprised of one white deep box, one green deep box, and one white super.
I decided to take no chances last year so I left the entire super on for the winter. I’m glad I did because we had one of the harshest winters I’ve ever seen! It snowed at least 3 times here, and each snow was more than 4 inches. One snow we had was 6 inches deep and everything stayed frozen for a week! Some honey was still capped in the super when I checked on them today, but the majority of it had been used. Surprisingly they were working on capping more! There were also a couple frames of brood showing up here, almost entirely all new eggs, and a swarm cell. I squashed the swarm cell, set this box off to the side and moved into the top deep box. I was delighted to find this box full of bees! Only three frames were not in use, and it was pretty heavy. It was only 55 degrees today but it was so sunny I couldn’t resist checking on the girls. Since it was cooler than it should have been to properly check on them I only pulled the frames from the edges to check food stores. Pollen is everywhere in the hive and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much. Entire frames covered in just pollen. I pulled the empty frames from this box (the green deep) and set it aside as well.
The lowest deep, the white one, was unsurprisingly empty. It was heavier than I expected it to be though so I checked for honey pockets. There were a couple and I moved these to the center of the box. I also removed this box from the floor of the hive, and scraped the dead bees from the winter into my compost bin. The bees weren’t very happy with this, and there was quite a cloud of orange legged gals waiting for me when I came back with the floor. It was a little comical to see so many pretty golden bees flying with bright orange pants on. I quickly replaced the floor, and put the super down first. I want to encourage them to move out of that super as quickly as possible since I’d like to use it for honey later this year. That said, this colony will very likely be split at the end of next month because they’re going to be massive! I couldn’t believe how big the cloud of bees waiting for me was, especially since there were so many frames of brood in the hive (5 at least in the green deep alone). After the super was placed I put the green deep on next. This box was left mostly alone, although I did pull a frame of pollen/honey from each side of the brood cluster (there were two full frames of food on either side) and put it in the white deep. I swapped full frames from green deep with empty ones from the white, taking care not to disrupt the brood nest. Then the white deep went on top of the green, and the full frames of food were placed dead center above the cluster, with half full left overs from the winter.
The weather here has been sporadic and rainy. I only just saw a bumblebee for the first time yesterday, which was a little worrying. My scoulers willow ga native variety) finished blooming a couple of weeks ago but I never saw any bumblebees on it, and they love the pollen it produces. The weather was just too cold a rainy for anyone to be out. Today was beautiful though, and my bees and I were out for most of it. Grape hyacinth are popping up everywhere and my food garden is almost fully planted. And I’m still working on my chicken coop but I get chicks on Friday!
I checked in on the bees again today, this time equipped with some half full feeders (I had a lot less sugar than I expected). I was dismayed to find that White Hive has virtually no honey stores. One solid frame and a couple of super frames was all they had for honey, and there was even less pollen. I pulled 3 of the empty super frames out and put in the feeder I had. It’s just a mason jar with some holes poked in the top. There’s a base that goes with it, so the bees can easily get underneath the lid and access all the holes, but I just propped the jar up on a small rock so I wouldn’t have to remove more frames. They had about 5 frames of solid capped brood.
Green Hive was even worse off. Two deep boxes with bees and only 2 frames of honey. I was horrified to find that the colony had swarmed sometime since I last checked on them. There were about 15 swarm cells that had been used. AND they were in the process of raising more queens! I saw 3 cells with eggs in them. The queen was still in the hive and there were three frames of eggs/larvae. No sign of any capped brood. I rearranged some frames so that as much pollen/ nectar was in one box, and then shook all the bees out of the box filled with empty frames. I’m very tempted to combine the colonies. Green Hive has more adult bees, but White Hive has more food.
I’m really disappointed with how things turned out. I don’t expect that either of them will make it through the winter. Unless I added a gallon of sugar water to each hive every day, I don’t see how they will manage the winter. And this year was such a pleasant year too! There was rain consistently throughout the summer so flowers were regularly replenished.
If I get home early enough on Saturday I will try combining them then. I have a construction project happening on Monday and it will be right next to the bees so I don’t want to work with them on Sunday or Monday and risk getting the construction guys into trouble.
After many weeks of leaving the bees to their own devices I opened them up to reduce their hIves down for winter, and to treat them again for mites. I opened White Hive up first, and was dismayed to find virtually no honey stores in either of the two deep boxes. The super I put on actually weighed more than the lighter of the deeps. I shuffled the frames around so that the majority of the important frames were in the bottom deep box. There was plenty of pollen (lots on all of the frames) but only about 1.5 frames worth of honey through the entire hive. Normally I would take the super off for winter, but given the lack of honey anywhere else I chose to leave it on. I didn’t fully close the hive up once I was done with the inspection, because I needed to put the treatment on as well, but I wanted to do that for both hives at the same time.
Green Hive had even less honey in it, but significantly more bees. After rearranging the frames there were about 8.5 solid frames of brood, and two solid frames of pollen in the top box. They had occupied enough frames in the second deep box that unfortunately I couldn’t removed it today. I just switched frames between the boxes so that the majority of the brood cluster was in the top box, and as many frames in the lower box were either occupied or fully drawn out with wax. Egg production in white hive has definitely slowed, but not so much in green hive. We’re headed into the hottest part of the summer, with fall only 7 or 8 weeks away, so I know I’ll be feeding them all winter. Green hive had 6 or 7 swarm cells on one of the frames in the lower box which I thought was weird they looked like they had been hastily drawn out, and some of them were a decent size, but none were occupied by a developing queen.
I did see a varroa mite on a couple of bees in White Hive which was annoying but expected. I decided to use MAQS for this treatment, and applied two in each colony once I had finished the inspection. The bees were NOT happy about this treatment at all and came bubbling out of the roof of Green Hive as soon as I’d put the second hive body back on. The bees in White Hive have all been hanging out on the front of the hive since I put the treatment in.
All in all things aren’t looking so great but at least I’ve got my feeders ready to go!