Hive report: 21 June 2016, and addendum

Wow! I’m NOT good at judging how fast my ladies work. I inspected both hives this afternoon–and made a trip to Bailey Bee Supply for more supers to put on the hives and some the basic paraphernalia need for my first honey extraction. I need only worry about the small stuff–the Durham County Beekeepers Association, our local bee club, has an extractor that I can rent–and I’ll pick that up on Sunday.

I’ve put the escape screen on the hive to let the bees out of the honey super, but not let them get back in. In a couple days, I’ll go back and remove the super with the honey and do the extraction.

Much to my chagrin, I discovered that I have brood and pollen stored in the super that was intended for cut-comb honey. The bees had virtually propolized the queen excluder closed so I, in my “newbee” wisdom, removed it.  Seems that ladies didn’t think that they had room enough to raise brood. So–now to figure out what to do about that. Looking at the number of frames that they have already drawn, I suspect that just became a brood box at least until later this fall. Next time around, I’ll know to keep the queen excluder on.

This morning (24 June 2016) I put a new honey super on Salvia–I’ve set my beekeeping software (Hive Tracks) to remind me to check in no more than a week to see what progress the bees have made on that new super. 20160624_112955

The lingo of the hive

20160528_163841_001It has finally soaked into my brain that I keep babbling on about “boxes”, “supers”, and frames–without much explanation so I’ll try to remedy that.  The hives (that is the woodenware or structure) is made up of a number of structures stacked vertically in layers. If you look closely, you’ll see that the hive on the left  (which is Rosemarinus–how else would a cook name hives?) has five “layers” sitting on a wooden base. Salvia (on the right) has only three layers right now (a new one added just today).  The hives that you see here are Langstroth (after the inventor)–a very commonly used vertical hive. The hive is made up of several parts. Let’s start from the bottom and work up.

Note: All the images of hive parts are from the Bailey Bee Supply website since my components are all in use.  The photographs of bees and in-use components are from my hives (bought from Bailey Bee Supply). Since many of the pictues seem to have disappeared, I’m adding a simple diagram that’s labeled.

Related imageThe wooden base with a sloped area (at the entrance) on the very bottom of the hive is a landing board to help the bees get into and out of the hive easily. It’s kind of a landing pad and place to taxi for takeoff.

Obviously, the hive needs a “floor” of some sort; on top of the landing board and frame we use a “bottom board”.  Clever terminology, huh?  In this hot climate for ventilation and to help control pests that like to hang around the hive, I use a screened bottom board–hardware cloth that is a small enough mesh that the bees cannot go through it. The white grid you see slides out so that the screen is open–it’s used to do maintenance things like mite counts when we need to assess for Varroa destructor infestation.

Now for the business parts of the hive. We build layers of “boxes” for various functions of the colony (that refers to the bees living in the hive). We add as many boxes as the colony needs to rear brood and to store honey so hives can be tall.  (The upper layer is just at shoulder height for me, filled with honey, so it weighs about 40 pounds.)

 

A box is just a wooden structure. We refer to them by different names depending on what the bees are using them for: brood boxes are where the queen lays eggs and the nurse bees rear new bees. Usually, the lower two or three boxes on the hive tower are used this way and we call those brood boxes or brood chambers. That huge open space is not very functional for bees to build tidy comb so we put in dividers: frames on which the bees build comb.

 

Here is a box filled with frames. Each frame is a wooden (or plastic) frame (like a picture frame without a picture in it). In order to help the bees be neat and tidy, we supply them with something to start building comb: a foundation–a base on which to build (draw) comb.  This can be a sheet of beeswax, or plastic (coated with beeswax). You see a frame with wax foundation tipped up at the back of the box.

Bees are constantly rearing new brood–in the summer when work is hard the lifespan of a bee is about six weeks. So the lowest three boxes on my hives are brood chambers. The frames there are filled with comb into which the queen deposits one egg is each cell. To keep the housework simple, honey and pollen needed for brood rearing are stored around the edges of each frame.

5 middle outer

Above is a frame that I’ve pulled out of the brood chamber for inspection. (It’s actually being held upside down as I’m rotating it to look at both sides–so the bottom of the frame actually appears at the top of the photograph.) The darker, golden brown comb that you see (and the area under the cluster of bees) is where the queen has laid eggs, which turn into larvae, and then into pupae. The bees here are nurse bees–they are feeding the larvae. This is a pretty typical brood frame.  An area at the bottom of the frame in an arc contains the brood. Around the ends and the upper edge of the frame is stored honey and pollen used to maintain the colony. The cells containing honey are covered with wax–“capped”.

6th middle outer

This frame is held right-way-up. You can see the brood area. Near the bottom center you see the golden brown cells that now have been covered with wax. These are what we beekeepers call “capped brood”–and contain maturing pupae–which will emerge from the cells to begin their working life. Again around the edge is capped honey. Now you have a general idea of the brood chambers. Hives will always have brood chambers. Now we come to another section of the hive–the honey storage part.

The term “super”–is the beekeeper way of saying that we have put boxes with frames above (over or superior to, thus “super”) over the brood chambers for the bees to use for honey storage–some of which we will take away for honey harvest.

 

bees on frame of honey

 

The frame above is from the “super”–the box over the brood chamber where there is only honey storage–no brood rearing. The wax here is lighter in color since it hasn’t been used for brood rearing–this is the good edible stuff that can be used for comb honey, or have the honey extracted (by centrifugation) and the comb (wax) returned to the bees to fill again.

Many of the cells here have already been covered with wax–sealed for storage after dehydration so that it won’t ferment. At the bottom center, you can see some open cells–uncapped cells–that still need to have water evaporated from the nectar for it to become honey. Now you know about supers as well as brood chambers.

inner cover

inner cover

Now our bee house (hive) needs a ceiling and a roof. The ceiling is the inner cover.  It helps to control heat in the hive, and allows us to use feeders if needed during the cooler weather or when not many thing are blooming or to get through the winter. (Yes–we do sometimes need to feed our bees.)

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cropped-20160202_1347541.jpgFinally, we come to the “roof”–which in bee lingo is a “telescoping cover” or “outer cover”. We call it “telescoping” because it can slide forward or backward to allow ventilation through the hive in hot weather or to allow a top entrance for bees to enter and exit the hive. This is a basic, no frills, functional hive roof–what you see on my hives.

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As beekeepers we need to “inspect” the colony. That means that we look inside the hive to see if all is going well: the queen is laying eggs, to make sure that there is not some nasty disease in the colony, to see how much pollen and honey is stored.

inner cover

For an inspection we disassemble the hive into its parts and we pull at least some of the frames and look at both sides of them–to see if the honey is capped, and if the larvae look healthy, et cetera.

You start the inspection by removing the telescoping cover and the inner cover–after using some smoke to let the girls know that you are going to invade their home.

Here is my hive with the “roof” removed–and looking down on the “ceiling” or inner cover. You can see that you start encountering the welcoming committee right away. Once you remove the inner cover (below) you can see the frames in the boxes–and the girls going about their business. They’re going to be walking and flying around all the time you are inspecting the colony, but they don’t sting unless you injure them. (They die when they sting, so it’s a last resort for them.) But they are curious, and will explore so a veil is a necessity during an inspection.

lower body

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Now when you look at first photograph, I hope you can find the parts of the hive at bit better. Rosemarinus (on the left) has three brood chambers and two supers. If it’s a very productive season, I may need to add one or two more supers. One of the supers on Rosemarinus is for comb honey so can remove it when the girls have filled it and give them an empty one to go to work on.

Salvia (on the right) has only brood chambers right now. I’ll be keeping a close watch on it to see when they need to have a super put on so there’s plenty of place for them to stash the sweet stuff–some for them for the winter, and some for me.

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Hive report: 28 May 2016

I woke up to pleasant, sunny weather this morning–so I made a beeline (sorry, but I just had to put that in) for the hives.

I was feeling really pressured to inspect Salvia (the hive on the left) to see if I needed to add another honey “super”–another box with frames and foundation. My inspection was abbreviated as soon as I got the inner cover off and pulled out one of the side frames. Bees don’t really “like” to work the side frames in a box, so those are often empty or light. This one wasn’t it was a good three pounds with both sides drawn into comb and being filled with honey and pollen.Looking between the other 7 frames it was obvious that the girls had been very busy. I needed to make a trip to Bailey Bee Supply on a pretty urgent basis–this colony was started from the swarm from Rosemary. Since this was a long holiday weekend, and the weather is a bit uncertain with a tropical depression heading out way and I certainly didn’t want these girls to decide that the hive wasn’t big enough and decide to go live somewhere else. I closed the hive back up, leaving the feeder (which was 20160528_163841_001empty) off and moved on to check out Rosemary.

Rosemary (on the left) hive was inspected much more recently, so I just removed the top honey super on top–all 40 pounds of it–and pulled some of the frames in the super that is for comb honey. It looks as if the colony size is increasing now that the queen is laying. The bees have started drawing comb and storing honey on the center frames of that box now the queen excluder (which was almost entirely closed off with propolis) has been removed and the colony is growing rapidly. I closed that hive quickly so that I could make it to the bee store before they closed at 2 p.m.

After my dash to Hillsborough, I came back and gave the girls in Salvia some more room to stash honey on nice tidy frames instead of building extra comb on the base of the feeder–I think they were definitely feeling crowded.

Normally I’d give them more room when they had used 5 or 6 of the 8 frames in the box, but these girls had been so industrious that they were already close to filling all 8 of the frames. Looking in the hive today made me realize how fast they can fill a super with honey. I was a little late adding the super–I’m just glad I wasn’t too late.

Real honey!

We are seeing more and more news about bees and honey–honey  adulterated with substances like high-fructose corn syrup. This review of what you might really be getting in that jar from the supermarket is excellent–with good supplemental links. Please read this so you know what might (or might not) be in that jar labelled honey.

Did your honey come from bees?  from YayYay’s Kitchen is a great article. After reading this, I hope you’ll find a local beekeeper or a farmers’ market and buy your honey there.

If you want to be really sure that your honey hasn’t been processed in any way, look for honey in the comb (cut comb or chunk honey)–still just as the bees packaged it. If you want honey extracted from the comb your best bet is still a local beekeeper who can tell you about how the honey was processed during and after extraction from the comb.

bees on frame of honey

This is a photograph of one of the frames from my Rosemary hive–lots of honey stored here. At the right are cells of honey that are capped. This means that the bees have evaporated moisture from the nectar to a level where fermentation will not take place, then sealed the cells. At the bottom center of the photograph,  you can see cells that are open and being filled with nectar.  These have not had enough moisture removed for capping.

When you buy comb honey the cells will be closed or covered with beeswax (capped). You know that honey is just as the bees made it.

Let’s hear it for the bees and the beekeepers!

 

Hive report: 15 May 2016

Happiness! My large colony, Rosemarinus, that produced a swarm on 24 March 2016 is now queenright.

Finally, a day with conditions that didn’t make opening the hive to do a major inspection of the colony traumatic for either the ladies of the hive or for me! It was just a bit cooler than I would have liked–the temperature 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with a bit of wind–about 5 mph. The local weather report was cooler than that but the hive was in a sunny location and I decided that I really needed to know if the colony had successfully reared a queen. So I opened the hive today and took a good look inside.

20160116_pupae and burr comb_134800Although I didn’t lay eyes on the queen, it was obvious that she was in there somewhere doing her thing. There was lots of brood in an excellent pattern. There was brood in all stages, but what seemed alike an incredible amount of capped brood.

Though the population was down from the last time I opened the hive, I suppose that is to be expected after the queenless period.  Even so, it seems to be a good strong hive with lots of bees. I’m not experienced enough to tell if the population decrease it what would be expected under those circumstances or if there was a small secondary swarm. What I do know is that the colony is now queenright.

The girls weren’t making much headway on the comb honey super that I put on the hive yet. I moved it down on the hive and placed the super full of capped honey on to. That was an experience–hefting that full super up to shoulder height! It makes me think more seriously that the next hive will be a horizontal Langstroth with the kind of set up that allows honey supers to be put on top. I now know just how heavy an 8-frame honey-fill super really is. Not complaining, just observing.

I’ve now had my third beesting  (note only my third) since I started working with the bees at the end of July last year. I’m still not wearing gloves to work the hive. Every sting that I’ve had has been because I’ve managed to put my finger down on a bee. I still think I’ve lucked out and gotten some good genetics in this colony again.

Yes, I’m happy! Rosemarinus has a queen–even though I haven’t actually seen her, and she is not marked. That’s for next inspection.

 

 

Hive Report: 13 April 2016

Though not as warm as I’d wished, and much windier than I liked, I thought it was hive inspection time again. Amidst errands and indexing work, I opened both hives on the 13th.

quad feeder base on inner coverSalvia was quick and easy. The queen was in there doing her thing and easily found since she was marked when she arrived here last summer. I found brood in all stages as well as honey and pollen. Looking good but since this is a small colony I’m feeding them. I removed the Miller hive top feeder which I find difficult to handle if there is any syrup still in it (and it seems that there inevitably is). I replaced that with the hive top feeder that I got from Brijean Acres Apiary after a Facebook friend told me how well she like that type of feeder. It sits on the inner cover and holds four quad feeder with jars in placesmall-mouth mason jars. Since my hives are just outside my front door, I can check feed often, so this feeder works well for me. I’m feeding that colony 1:1 sugar syrup with Honey-B-Healthy. (Though they are doing some foraging they are still taking the syrup. When they quit taking it, I’ll quit feeding.)

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Rosemarinus was quite a project–three medium hive bodies, two medium honey supers, and then the one honey super for cut comb honey. This inspection of the hive was to check the queen cells and look for a new queen.

That hive still seems to have an incredible number of bees even after that swarm which was small. It was so windy with gusts that made it difficult to use the smoker. Just getting the girls to move so that I could pick up frames by the ends without smooshing bees was difficult. I was wishing for frame grips when I had to resort to picking up some of the frames in the middle.

I didn’t get a full inspection of the two very heavy honey supers but on earlier inspections, there was no brood in them. I did inspect the three medium hive bodies frame by frame. The swarm happened on 24 March. When I looked in the hive on 31 March, there were some queen cells and some brood. On this inspection, I found no eggs, larvae or capped brood but there were open queen cells. Some looked as if they had been opened from the side. I hope that is a sign that there is a queen lurking in the hive, and I just didn’t have a good enough eye to find her. I saw one closed queen cell that I left in place since I didn’t find a queen.

I’m getting a bit antsy since that same day I saw a group of bees (about the size of the original swarm) flying around quite a distance from the hive. They eventually went back to the hive, and I haven’t had bees collected on the outside of the hive as I did with the original swarm. I saw a good example of a virgin queen at our last DCBA meeting so I’m sure that I might well not have seen a queen even if she were in the hive.  Once I do find her, she will get mark so that it’s easier to find her amongst all the other bees.

Now I have to wait. Not patiently, but wait to see if the colony is going produce their own queen or do I need to purchase one from a supplier. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the colony will (maybe even already has) provide a queen–these seem to be very gentle, productive girls. I like that!

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Hive report: 31 March 2016

 

RG Queen bee

Queen Salem

First, I’ve officially named my hives now–after herbs. Rosemarinus (#1) and Salvia (#2–the new, split). Now to figure out a consistent way to designate the queens and track the lineage, since I’m allowing Rosemarinus to “make” its new queen. I think I will name the queens after cultivars/varieties of the herbs. Maybe since my first queen was marked with blue (year ending in 5), I think she is Salem. It’s her blue dot that has kept me from losing her twice! The new queen, from the Rosemarinus hive, will be marked with white (year 6) so she’s could  be christened Irene (a white-flowered cultivar of Rosemarinus)–perhaps!  I have to work out something that will be logical and consistent. I can see a problem with that right off–Queen Irene, descended from hive Rosemarinus, but living in hive Salvia?!–perhaps I need to work on this some more. Hives will definitely be named after herbs though.

 

The performance and temperament of that hive as been so exceptional that I want to keep the genetics as much as possible. Thus, the hive has only capped brood, and queen cells. There have been about half a dozen queen cells made between the time that the first one was found open and this inspection today.

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It was blustery, partly cloudy, but warm today so after looking at the weather forecast–rain possible for the next several days–I decided I HAD to inspect Rosemarinus (at least) today. That was quite a job since there are three medium brood boxes, one honey super on regular wired wax frames, and one honey super with thin wax foundation (above a queen excluder) for cut comb honey. All these boxes have bees and all except the cut comb super and being drawn, including the very outside frames.  The girls have been very busy.

I put some wax-coated plastic foundation in that hive and the bees are drawing it out quickly. I’m happy to see that as I think it will make less work on equipment for the beekeeper, with more time to attend to the bees and the cut comb honey production.

I opened Rosemarinus hive to start the colony inspection at 13:00 EDT with less than optimal condition: partly cloudy, steady wind at about 7 mph, with gusts up to 10 or 12 mph. Since this hive is heavily populated despite the swarm (that went into Salvia)  I needed the smoker once I had taken off the cut comb honey super–really don’t want my cut comb honey to be reminiscent of BBQ! It was so windy that it was difficult to use the smoker effectively so the girls did a lot more flying about than usual–I think they get cranky with me taking the roof off their home when it’s windy, but none registered displeasure by stinging me. (Another reason to maintain the genetics that I have going in this hive.)

I finished a pretty thorough inspection at 14:05 EDT with lots of bees buzzing around outside the hive and clustered on the sides of the hive. Since that hive has been without a laying queen for at least seven days it wasn’t surprising that I saw only capped brood–and queen cells.

When I was about two-thirds through the inspection it was getting windier and completely overcast;  more and more bees were flying around me and around the hive. By the time I reached the lower brood box, agitation was setting in so I didn’t inspect each frame individually–I moved them to one side so I could look down between them–lots of bees there as well.  I could see some capped drone brood protruding, so I know that there is brood in all three boxes. The bottom board wasn’t littered with dead bees either.

Since I had inspected the honey super containing wired wax foundation a week ago, I let that one slip in favor of a more in-depth examination of the two brood boxes, and the one where I found the first queen cell.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t let me do the complete examination of my lower brood box–I just know that there is some brood there, and  a lot of bees.

I’m happy to see multiple queen cells–I now know that the first one has not emerged yet. It was a little tense thinking of only one possible queen, just in case anything went wrong. Because of the weather, I didn’t even attempt a sugar roll for mites today, which leaves me just a bit anxious about levels; I’m going to try the sticky board again to see if I can get at least some idea of mite population. I was planning to treat (if needed) with MiteAway Quick Strips, aka MAQS (formic acid), but I’m hesitant to do that with the developing queens in the hive–at least until the new queen is established.

If the weather is suitable I plan to open Salvia and see how Salem is settling in  I hope that I’ll need to add a second brood box to that hive shortly.

Anticipation!

 

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Rosemarinus, 31 March 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Hive report: swarm!

clusters of honeybees on the hive

Swarm in the making!

I’ve just collapsed in my chair at my desk, heaved a huge sigh of relief,  mopping sweat off my face, and guzzling cold water–and thinking that I may be one of the luckiest beekeepers around.

I was planning to do a sugar roll test today.  I went out to take a look at the hive and was greeted by this! It clear and warm today, but the wind is quite gusty–in fact, so gusty as to make a smoker useless. I was debating about the sugar roll when a bee landed–more like was blown onto my shoulder. That bee was immediately followed by others buzzing all around me, and following me.

With sufficient craning of my neck, I saw a blue dot!  OMG! It was the queen.

I caught her in my hand carefully–made a mad dash into the house and got a quart mason jar, a ring, a paper towel, and my bee brush. I put her in the jar, went back to the hive, brushed some of that cluster of bees into the jar with her, and found her a shady spot while I opened the hive and did a sort-of split–very rapidly. I had the second hive ready, but I’d have liked to have been a little more organized about it. I pulled frames with honey and brood to put in the second hive with some empty frames with foundation, brushed up some more bees to add, and then put the queen into the new hive.

It was a bit hectic around the hive–bees everywhere so I didn’t get to do a full inspection though I did look through all four boxes (mediums). There is a closed queen cell in the big hive, though.

Too windy to use a smoker, bees getting ready to swarm, and after about an hour and a half I was only stung once (my first time). That was because I put a finger where I should not have. Tomorrow morning, I’ll put a hive top feeder on that hive–not to mention a quick trip to Bailey Bee Supply for an empty super and foundation for the #1 hive. They’ve drawn all the comb and it looks crowded in there even with those that have left.

Love my bees!

two bee hives

 

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Hive inspection 29 Feb 2016

IMG_8958It’s a lovely, sunny (but slightly breezy) almost 70-degree day, fit for a hive inspection to do a recheck on the queen cells noted on the 21st and to go into the bottom body to assess brood. I was fortunate to have friends–aka “bee buddies” to lend extra hands and eyes. So there are a few pictures of the queen cells and (unfortunately) of the two varroa mites that we saw.

There is lots of activity in and out of the hive. It appears that the girls are finding pollen–a rainbow coming in ranging from cream, greenish-white, bright yellow, to deep golden yellow. The pollen baskets are better filled today. There were drones out and about today too.

Happily, the queen cells are still open and without egg or larvae–which makes me a happy beekeeper. Although there was some capped brood in the lower body, there is not enough capped brood to do a split, but lots of nectar and pollen stored.  I have to wonder if they were not slightly honey bound.

I did place a new super with wax foundation for the girls to expand into so that the queen has more room to lay–so that I can get enough brood to do a split in a month or so. It’s a relief to find those queen cells still vacant today.  I’ll be hoping that they are still vacant in a week because we have some more cold weather forecast.

The girls have demolished five pounds of fondant in the past week, and given the forecast, I guess I’ll need to supply more food for that period, but since we still have some nighttime temperatures hovering close to, or slightly below, freezing it seems a little premature to start syrup yet. Now the question is do I buy more fondant or do I try one of the techniques for feeding granulated sugar.

I got my first look at varroa mites–two of them–on one bee today. Even with the video of last week’s inspection and looking at lots more bees today we saw only two. It’s time for me to get out the sticky board and also to do a sugar roll to get a better idea of the mite population.

 

Hive inspection 21 Feb 2016

The temperature was in the upper 60s today so even though it was cloudy with a light breeze I opened the hive to see what my colony was actually doing. OMG–do I ever have lots of bees.

IMG_8956Yesterday and today there was a lot of activity in and out of the hive. Some of the bees seemed to be just flying around the hive. I wondered if this was orientation flights for “new” bees.

Friends, also beekeepers, came to help with the inspection and videoed the frames as I pulled them out for inspection. None of us could guess what we were likely to see when we opened the hive. Other beekeepers have reported colony loss and/or low populations coming out of winter, so I wasn’t expecting so many bees. My hive is set up with three medium bodies for brood and honey.

Since this is my first winter as a beekeeper, I wasn’t sure what to expect. From my las inspection, I knew that the girls and continued to draw comb all winter and to build some

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burr comb

impressive burr comb in a strip on the frames of the upper body in the space where the candy board was–before they ate it all. After removing the quilt box and the frame that used to have candy in it, the first task was to remove that burr comb. There was some capped brood and honey in this, but I removed it anyway. I was expecting the girls to get a bit testy when I did that but they didn’t.(I can still say that I have a very gentle colony.  I was able to do the entire inspection without gloves.)  ithWe did use the smoker more liberally than usual for me, simply because there were so many bees that I had to have them move down onto the frames before each was pulled out to look at the brood pattern, honey stores, pollen, and search for the queen.

 

We did use the smoker more liberally than usual for me, simply because there were so many bees that I had to have them move down onto the frames before each was pulled out to look at the brood pattern, honey stores, pollen, and search for the queen.

The bees have drawn more frames since my last inspection–even the outside frames in the second and third frames were being drawn out though in the second body they were not filled with honey. We were able to see brood in all stages of development. The queen was in the middle body–just trucking around doing her thing. The capped brood pattern looked good. There were capped drone cells, and drone pupae in the burr comb. We saw drones moving about on some of the frames–but probably not an excessive number given the overall population of the colony. I’ve seen drones flying, and the girls seeming to show some reluctance to let them return to the hive. Since it’s spring, they are raising drones so that they can go to drone congregation areas and mate with virgin queens.

As we pulled the frames from the middle body, I could look down onto the frames in the lower body–and I could see LOTS of bees there too. It seems that I have wall-to-wall bees in the hive. We found one queen cell, still open, at the bottom of one frame.

The hive is crowded so I anticipate making a split soon to prevent (I hope) swarming. I didn’t do that today as starting tomorrow the temperatures are supposed to drop back into the lower 50s (except for Wednesday when 65 °F is predicted. I didn’t think that there was enough stored honey to do a split today–though there are certainly enough bees.  Now it’s decision time–and time to consult an experienced beekeeper! Do I do a split, or do I add a super to this hive. (Thankfully, tomorrow is bee school so I have an opportunity to talk to experienced beekeepers.)

I’m sure I need to do something to provide more room for the colony or they will likely swarm. I set up another hive just on the basis of how many bees I saw last inspection and the amount of activity at the hive, but I was NOT expecting such a large population at this time of year.  But there is now a second hive waiting for occupancy!

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This time, as I set up the hive I’m putting in ant defense–water trays around the concrete blocks.  I didn’t think to do that with the first hive so resorted to ground cinnamon sprinkled around the hive and cinnamon sticks tucked around the blocks. Next time I have the first hive down to the bottom board, I’ll put trays under those blocks as well.  Experience is a good teacher!

Now since I’ve graduated to two hives, I think I need to name them (#1 and #2 just don’t seem quite fitting for all those busy little creatures.) and I want need to be able to keep track of my queens (again, 2015 and 2016 just don’t seem appropriate either) so I’m contemplating names. I’ve had some possible suggestions from my FB posts (including Gryffindor and Slytherin) which dos suggests possibilities for naming queens as well.

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