Hive report: bees and cats!

The last week or so has been a bit hectic–indexing work, and beekeeping. The apiary has grown to four hives now–two from swarms cast by the two large (Dave’s bees and the Georgia Girls) hives. Now I have hives C and D. Hive C is from the swarm from the Georgia Girls. Hive D is from a swarm from Dave’s Bees. The purpose of my inspections of three hives today was to check to see that all were queenright even though looming deadlines for indexes have put a limit on the amount of time that I can spend with the bees on this Mother’s Day; so necessarily very quick question-oriented inspections.

brood box of hiveI had already found that Hive C was queenless. I started the procedure of requeening earlier in the week, but I did need to make sure that the queen had been released from her travel cage. Happily, the queen was out and about in the hive. However, the comb in that brood chamber is so exuberant and higgledy-piggledy that it was (in a reasonable amount of time, with sweat dripping from my eyelashes) impossible to see if there was brood. But, the queen is free so I’ll check again for brood in a while.

[Why did I have sweat dripping from my eyelashes? Well, it happens if you neglect to put on the sweatband under the veil. Needless to say, I went back and added that to my attire before moving on the Hive D.]

Hive D (I know, very unimaginative) was a swarm from Hive A and since I had not captured the queen, I had put a queen cell into the new hive. Today was to check and see if that colony was queenright. Still dripping sweat, I opened this hive to find that there was now capped brood, lots of capped brood in a very good pattern in that hive. Again, I settled for the quick answer without a detailed search to find and mark the queen as I need to move on to Hive A.

In Hive A, my concern for this quick inspection was to see if there was a functioning queen here, too.  The quick answer was a resounding yes! I found lots of capped brood in an excellent pattern–in the medium super above the brood box.  Again, I accepted that, but realize that there is another problem that I need to address immediately. I need to get some new frames for the bees to start for cut-comb honey since they are rapidly filling everything with honey and pollen. I admit that I didn’t even look in the brood box to see what was going on, but I suspect it’s being filled with honey and pollen, so I likely need to reverse the medium with brood and the deep at least for a while.IMG_7769

Ok–you wondering about the “bees and cats”!  Since this was the week that I had to tote Frankie, the cat, to the vet and deal with his foibles about the carrier and the car, cats, and their sometimes strange ways have been blatantly obvious.  After these quick inspections, I thought that bees shared some of the same characteristics: both bees and cats do what they damn well please, no matter what I think, or hope, they will do!

I definitely need some consultation with a very experienced beekeeper to try to sort out what these girls are doing and how I can best deal with it.  But from a beekeepers perspective, all is right with the world.

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Hive report 14 Oct. 2015

beekeeper holding Langstroth frameThis is late for my routine inspection–but with all the cloudy, windy, grey, chilly days it hasn’t been appropriate for me to be ripping the roof of the girls’ home. Then when the weather improved and the sun came out, we still had some days that were too windy for me to want to open the hive. Something about the girls clinging madly to the landing board in the gusts that suggested maybe not good time either. Then we finally had days that were not too windy and sere sunny, so I thought I’d do the inspection.

When I got to the hive, there were bees flying everywhere, circling the hive, and for the first time meeting me on the way to the hive. I wasn’t sure what was up with the ladies, but something said it might not be a good time to stick my nose into the hive.  The day following, same thing, except that I think I picked up what was causing the problem–lots of banging, thumping, nose, and some unusual traffic by the hive brought them out again; so another deferred inspection.

Langstroth fram with honey and beesToday, it all fell into place–sunny, warm, and the traffic to and from the hive was as usual.  No sign of alert bees buzzing all around the hive.

I had three boxes to inspect this time–and I came away glad that I decided to do all 8-frame mediums. Two of the boxes were heavy!  That’s not a complaint, just an observation; heavy is good. It means honey for the winter.  I didn’t have another OMG-so-many-bees reaction this time–I was expecting lots of bees.  That is what I found–but even more bees than I expected. Again, happiness.

Despite the time and manipulation it takes to check each frame in three boxes/bodies, the girls handled it well–there were more Langstroth frame with capped honey and beesthan usual flying around us by the time I was putting the last frame back in the bottom box, but I call them alert, not aggressive. This time I had an extra set of hands so I got some pictures of some of the frames as I pulled them–I was hoping to see more detail on the frames.  Guess I need to work on another way to get pictures.

I’m pleased with how the hive looks (to my inexperienced eye); bees were working in the upper body–mostly drawing comb, but starting to see a little nectar and pollen there too; no brood.  I found brood in both the middle and the lower body.  I did place strips to treat for mites (Varroa destructor).  When I go back to take that out, I think I’m going to need to re-arrange some of the frames to consolidate the brood.  This inspection raised a lot of what-do-I-need-to-do-now questions.  I’m middle outerglad there’s a meeting of the Durham County Beekeepers Association soon–I should find some answers there.

I do hope that these ladies are doing as well as I think they are–It should be interesting to take the beekeeping course after a season (well, part of a season) with already having hands on experience. The online materials (e.g. Brushy Mountain Bee Farms webinars and videos) and blogs (Scientific Beekeeping.com, Tales from the Bee Hive, Bee Sweet Bee Farm, My Latin Notebook, and many more) have provided good information.  Conversations with Facebook friends and beekeeping groups have also helped through difficulties like the sugar syrup spill bringing hornets and yellowjackets, and found me a feeder that works so well!

5th middle outerÔ¿Ô

Today I got my first sting–even though for everything except installing the nuc, I’ve worked only wearing a veil. I know it would happen sooner or later…and it finally did. No big deal.