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.


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.




Rosemarinus, 31 March 2016






From hive to apiary?

hive added The bees are sending signals–they think it’s spring, no matter what the calendar says, or what the infamous groundhog says. (Happy groundhog day, all.) In reading about beekeeping you often find mentions of the varied opinions of different beekeepers–as 5 beekeepers and you will get at least 5 opinions. Well, in describing my hive situation to three master beekeepers I’ve gotten only one opinion: prepare for swarming.

Not being one to ignore what seems good advice, especially with the consensus.  I’ve set up another hive in preparation for  (but hoping to prevent)  the swarming. One hive is soon going to become two.  The bees may dictate that I’m going to do this split sooner rather than later! I won’t know until it’s warm enough to get a good look inside the hive to see if there are swarm cells, or not.

Right now I don’t know if there is another queen in the making in the main hive (I guess that’s hive #1–but I need to think of something more poetic). From some quick searching on the internet, it looks as if I may have not choice but to allow the girls to “make” their own queen for those that stay behind in the main hive.


I keep mentioning candyboard (or candy board) but I don’t think I ever explained what it is and why I put one on the hive for winter.

sugar in mould for bees


Bee candy is just about what you would make for yourself–sugar and water–cooked to a hardball stage then poured into a mould that fits on top of the hive so the bees can get to it for emergency food in cold weather. The bee candy likely has some additions that you’d not like–essentially vitamins, and pollen or pollen substitutes. The is a picture of a candyboard taken in Bailey Bee Supply store while I was there purchasing hive components for the second hive. This is hard candy.  (There’s a photograph of the candyboard that I put on my have after the bees had worked eaten some of it.)  They ate the whole thing! Much sooner than I expected. Now depending on the weather the bees will need more “emergency” food.

Another option for feeding during times when there is not an adequate nectar flow is fondant (soft candy). Since I’ve displayed absolutely no talent for making candy–ever–I chose to buy both the hard and the soft from bee suppliers. I’m going to try the fondant for feeding now until the nectar flow starts. I’ll have to make some other decisions about feeding when the split is made–all rather weather dependent, and bee dictated.

It is possible to feed bees table sugar in other ways. In warm weather, a 1:1 sugar and water syrup works well, or dry sugar in an emergency. (There’s more about my adventures with that in other posts.)

Now, off to the books to learn more about doing splits! These girls obviously didn’t read the book or look at the weather forecast.