Hive report: 14 May 2017

Honey B HealthyFinally! A warm, sunny day when I can open up the hive and see what’s going on inside. The bees have been in their new home for a month now. The weather has, overall, been more like March than May lately so I’ve not been able to check inside the hive, and I’ve had to give them sugar syrup with Honey B Healthy  (that’s the bee version of a one-a-day vitamin) and feeding stimulant since they don’t forage in cloudy weather or chilly, rainy, or very windy weather.

These girls went into a completely new hive on 14 April 2017 so I was really anxious to see how they are settling in. There was no comb already drawn for them to start storing honey–lots of work for them to do before storing nectar and pollen.

Go girls!

On inspection today I found that they have drawn (built) comb on almost all the frames (only one with no comb on either side, and another comb only on one side) in the brood box–so they have built comb on 6-1/2 frames of the eight so it looks like they are off to a good start. The queen has been doing her queenly stuff–there was lots of brood in the hive.

Since the weather forecast is looking much more like May for the next ten days, I didn’t replace the feeder after the inspection since there should be nectar available now that the weather has improved and they girls can go out to forage instead of staying home and slurping up sugar syrup. (When there is nectar available the bees don’t take sugar syrup even with the Honey B Healthy in it). They like the real stuff when they can get it.

About two hours after I finished the inspection I noticed that there was a lot of activity outside the hive: bees flying around the hive, but not going very away. I suspect I was seeing “new” foragers or field bees coming out for a first flight and getting oriented to hive location

When I finished the inspection–laid eyes on the queen–I added a medium super to give the girls room to start stashing honey and pollen. It looked as if the bees thought they were getting a bit crowded as they were putting pollen into some of the brood areas and building lots of burr comb. Now they don’t have to do that. I’ve given them more room for storing nectar and pollen.

First honey super of the season on the hive!

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Hive report: 27 April 2017

It was clear and sunny this morning with only a bit of steady breeze, so I lit the smoker and invaded the girls’ living quarters to see how they are settling in.

The colony seems to be doing well–given that I only installed the package on 14 April in an almost-brand-new hive with no drawn combs in the brood box. Added to that we’ve had a series of chilly, rainy days when there could be no foraging.

When I opened the hive today I was happy to see that four of the eight frames have comb either drawn or being drawn on them, and one side of the fifth frame was being drawn. On inspection, I saw eggs, larvae in various stages, and capped brood–all looking like a good laying pattern from this queen. Two of the frames were quite heavy with brood, pollen, and honey. There was a little capped honey, too.

I found the queen on one frame in from the outside on the right.  Some frames on the left of the brood chamber were completely undrawn, so I shifted everything toward the left, and put two of the empty frames on the right so that the brood is now more central in the chamber–I didn’t change the order of any frames with brood on them though–just shifted them toward the left. I sure hope that was an appropriate thing to do. (I suspect that this right sided distribution of drawn frames and brood has something to do with how I replaced frames after removing the shipping box from the hive–I should have split the empty frames–shifting the frame with the queen more toward the center of the hive. But that’s what keeps beekeeping interesting–always learning.

The colony seems quite calm–even while I was removing burr comb that they had constructed between the frame tops and the inner cover (and had filled with “nectar”–I couldn’t help wondering if that “nectar” was the sugar syrup from the bucket feeder that was on the hive. After inspection, I put the bucket feeder back on but if the weather holds, I’ll not refill it–letting the girls get on with foraging for nectar and pollen–or remove it in a couple days if it looks as if they are no longer taking the syrup.

Because I put these girls onto undrawn (but wax coated) frames, I had an entrance excluder in place so that the queen couldn’t get out of the hive–trying to be sure that the new package and queen didn’t abscond. Now that they have brood, I’ll remove that, but I think I’ll leave the entrance reduced for a bit longer until there are more bees in the colony (which shouldn’t be long given the amount of capped brood that I saw today).

For now, all seems well. Long live the (unnamed) queen in hive 2017A!

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Getting ready for the bees!

It’s been an absolutely lovely day here. Finally, the wind has died down–for the last few days, I was feeling as if I were back in California with the Santa Ana winds. Frankie, the cat, gets terribly fussy and whinges a lot when it is windy–and he’s done a lot of that the last few days (I do mean whinge–not whine). To the wind, add the spring deluge of pollen–the world is chartreuse as pollen settles on everything, everywhere, coming in through the smallest crack in the window, if you dare open the window. Obviously, not the best conditions to get my woodenware ready for the new package of bees to arrive.

Fortunately, today was lovely–a bit of breeze, not too humid, and just pleasant to be outdoors. So today, finally, I was able to get out the Watco Teak Oil and get my woodenware ready. I was beginning to feel really frustrated because my package (3 pounds) of bees and the queen are due next Friday and I really wanted to get that done so the hive boxes have time to sit and air out (even though I don’t do anything inside the boxes). Now I’m feeling good because I’ve gotten two hives and airing out. Tomorrow promises to be another lovely day for me to “conditioning” the rest of the woodenware for the season.   20170408_170850

I’ve made one change for the coming season since I’ve now had bees for over a year, including one winter, and have had the experience of losing colonies added to that. I feel like I can begin to be opinionated, at least to a degree. I began with all eight-frame, medium boxes–for brood and for honey, and it had a colony overwinter in fine shape, did a split, and had two colonies as of last November–which didn’t make it.  So some experience. As I worked my hives over those months, I decided that I didn’t like the medium for the brood box, so this year, I’ve switched to eight-frame deep boxes for brood (instead of two medium boxes)–even though they will be heavier to lift. I’ll keep using medium boxes for honey supers.

Now, to wait anxiously until 14th April for my package of bees to arrive. That will really tell me that spring is here!

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