Sunday, August 14, 2011

RIP Hive #4

Well Hive #4 finally died. It had been looking weird since early spring and finally succumbed to the wax moth. I think this hive lost its queen early on and could not make a new one. I let it go to see what would happen. I probably should have combined it with a stronger hive earlier on.

I did pull 5 frames of honey from Hive #5 and #M. This will probably be all of the honey I pull this year unless there is some unusual Fall nectar flow. Hives 2 and 3 looked fine, just not any fully capped honey frames.

More Honey

This is a report on honey collected on July 17.

I went down a box deeper in all of the hives to see what was going on. I collected some honey from hives 2, 3, 5 and M as long as it was well capped. I did not collect honey that was next to brood. The brood was typically high up in the hives. I am curious about what is going on in the two bottom boxes in the larger hives, but will not disturb them for another month.

I ended up with 11 frames of honey a couple of them in shallows from hive M. This came out as 40 pints of honey.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Honey Slowing

Well, again here is a report of two past visits. I don't seem to be getting the volume of honey that I have gotten in previous years - may be the queens, may be sun spots?

Removed seven frames the first week (6/12?) and 6 frames the second week (7/4). I have not gotten much of anything from hive #2, which is weird because it is a large hive with lots of bees, they are just not putting up much extra honey. Hive #3 is still producing well, I always take a couple of frames from it. Hive #4 is still just strange, I am just letting it go to see what happens it may have a laying worker at this time as there seems to be only drone brood.

Hives 5 and M are doing well. I removed the first honey from Hive #M on the 4th, it is in shallow frames, but I got four of them. Hive #5 still putting up honey, but not capped yet.

For as little as I am putting in to them, they are all doing just fine :\

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Honey coming

I haven't updated this in a while, other priorities.

Two weeks ago I got into the hives and pulled out my first honey, then I went in last weekend a pulled some more - here is a recap.

Hive 2 - looking much better than previously, looks like it has settled down to be a solid hive this year. On the first trip I did not pull any honey from this hive, but on the second trip I did pull three frames of good solid honey. Looking forward to more.

Hive 3 - This is the monster hive this year. On my first trip I pulled 9 frames from this hive all packed with honey. On my second trip I pulled another 5 with many almost ready.

Hive 4 - Is still in a questionable state. It may be that this hive is a goner, but I am still waiting on it. On the first trip I went ahead a took a frame of larva/eggs from hive #3 and stuck it in this hive to see if they would generate a new queen. On the second trip these cell were all covered over as brood cells. There was an open queen cell - so perhaps (but I wouldn't put any money on it).

Hive 5 and Hive M again seem to be on similar tracks, they are building up well, they have moved brood up, which is OK with me because it means the queen is laying well, but it means that there is no honey to remove at this time.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A good spring check-up

Went into all the hives today to see how they were doing. In the order I checked them...

Hive #5 and Hive #M looked almost the same. Both had good brood patterns in box #2 and some honey put up in box #3, they look healthy for this time of year.

Hive #3 is my best hive this year. It has a full box of honey almost fully capped. I went ahead and put another empty box on top, and could probably harvest the full box next week.

Hive #4 - this is still a weird hive. It is down to two boxes, there is some spotty honey in the top box and spotty brood in the bottom box - this is better than no brood, but not much. Not a lot of bees here.

Hive #2 is another weird hive. They are putting up honey like gangbusters but I had not seen any brood til this week. There was brood in the hive this week, but it was in clumps rather than spread across a frame - never seen this before, no clue if it is good or bad. Will be interesting to see where this hive goes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A new hive

I had a great experience this week. I went with some friends to pick up some old beekeeping equipment. They also told me there was an active hive there that I could have.

When I first got there I went to the active hive to see what was going on. It was set up in one deep and four mediums. Oops - that big of a hive would not fit in my car! So I went into it to see if there might be some empty boxes. So, the top box was in fact empty, the next box - empty, then I finally got a box that was pretty full of honey. Under this was a queen excluder and then the last medium box. This box was full of brood - yeah, so a active queen. Finally I went down to the deep and found it also to be empty. So, I took the deep off the bottom board and put the medium with the brood on the bottom, and the medium with the honey on top of that. I then put an inner cover on top of these two boxes with a screen cover over the open hole and let the box settle down for a while.

We then went down to a barn that was full of old boxes and frames. For the next several hours we scraped and cleaned boxes, frame, cover, etc. I ended up with a car full of equipment!

Finally back to the active hive. I took some straps and wrapped the the hive together. I had a hive entrance block that I inserted at the last minute and placed it in the car. Now hopefully the bees will stay inside for the 3 hr trip home. Actually the trip home took over 4 hours because I ran into some wicked weather and tornadoes. When I got home I had to place the active hive out in the rain. I did not want to keep them cooped up any longer. I checked on them the next day and they seemed fine.

So, I am going to label this hive #M to remind me of where I got it. If it does well, I may place this in my friend's yard for some variety :)

I also checked the other hives.
I am still not seeing any evidence of a queen on Hive #2, but they are putting up honey like crazy :?
Hive #4 still has no brood, but there is evidence of some empty queen cells, so I will give them some more time.
Hive #3 seems to be doing well, but no honey being put up :?
Hive #5 seems to be doing OK, I am hoping it is going to build up well soon....

A lot of question marks, but that is not unusual for me :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

More bad(?) news

Did another inspection today. Started with hive #6, the weak split. It still looks like these guys did not produce a queen. I went ahead and took the one box that had bees left in it and put it on hive #5, the other split. Hive #5 seems to be doing well, hopefully their new bee neighbors will get along, they were going to die anyway.

I then looked into hive #4. This is the other one that looked like there was not an active queen. There is still a goodly number of bees in this hive. I did see what looked like larva in this hive. SO again, I am not sure what is going on. I am going to just leave it alone for a while. Either the number of bees will just decrease over time or if there is a queen there will be some brood show up.

Then the new bad news. Although hive #3 looked fine, hive #2 also looked like it did not have an active queen :( This is the box that I split to to make #5. Obviously the queen went with to hive #5 and left hive #2 without a queen. I did see some queen cells in the hive, but did not see any sign of a queen. There are a LOT of bees in this hive, so I hope this one is just slow developing - we will see.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Inspection time

Had a couple of nascent beekeepers with me and went through all of the hives this weekend - and got some bad news :(

First the good news - Hives 2,3 and the new split #5 are looking very good. Lots of bees, larva, drones, all looking good for this time of year. If all these continue to do well, I will be in the same state I was last year at this time - not bad.

Bad news - I mentioned that split hive #6 did not have many bees going in and out, when we looked inside we saw very few bees and no larva. I guess we never got a queen developed - could be I did not leave enough eggs and larva with them to create new queen, or she didn't find any drones to mate with or who knows. There was an open queen cell in the hive, so I will give them another week and then probably combine these bees in with the new split hive #5.

Worse news - It looks like hive #4 is in the same state as hive #6. This was my large honey producing hive last year. However, something weird went on with this hive last fall that I never could understand - this may just be a result of queen gone bad. I am surprised they did not replace the queen, but oh well. Again, I'll wait a wek than decide what to do with these bees.

But the new beekeepers seemed to enjoy the experience :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Just an update..

The day after the March 13th post, I put an additional box of honey comb on top of hives 2,3,4 and 5. I know it may be too early for such, but better that than late.

The splits seem to be doing OK. Number 5, has the most activity with bees moving in and out on a regular basis. Number 6 is less active, in fact I thought it had failed completely (ie all the bees had left), but when I popped the top on it today, there were bees roaming around. It still may be too weak to make it, but for now, I'll leave it alone and see what happens.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The lazy beekeeper gets to work!

Well it is that time of year, that if I am too lazy, I will lose some bees to swarms. So I dove in today to do some work.

I started in hive #2. At this time of year typically the bottom box is empty because the bees have moved up during the winter. So, I wanted to get down to the bottom box and remove it. The top box surprised me because it now had brood all the way up to this box. The next two boxes down also had healthy amounts of brood including drone cells. The bottom box was indeed empty. So, in real time, I decided to make a split from this colony. I took the second box from the top, put it on a new base and put a cover on it on the other side of my yard (I'll call it hive #5). I took the bottom box (the empty one) and put it on top of the original stack. So for hive #2 I have two boxes with brood topped off by an empty brood box. I also did some checkerboarding, which means interspersing some empty brood comb into the brood area.

So, what does all this mean? There is only one queen between these two hives. I do not know where she ended up. She may be in hive #2 or in the split hive. My hope is that wherever the queen is NOT, that those bees will produce a new queen from the eggs that are in it. This is the same method that I used to produce what is now hive #3. It takes some time, because the bees have to realize that there is no queen, that they need to produce a new one, then wait for the queen to mature, mate and then begin breeding. It means that for one of these hives, they will not produce much if any honey this year, and to be honest, may not make it through this much effort. Most beekeepers would buy a new queen and insert her into the split hive - but remember, I am a lazy beekeeper :)

Hive #3 was in essentially the same condition as hive #2 - so I did the same thing - another split (I'll call it hive #6). This time, I took the empty brood box from the bottom and put it on top of the single brood box of the split, so this one is two boxes high. I took an empty brood box from Hive #4 to put on top of Hive #3, so it is now standing three boxes high, two brood boxes and an empty comb box.

Hive #4 was a little different. It had two empty boxes at the bottom. So, I simply removed them and put one of them on top and one of them I used to top off hive #3 as mentioned above. I also moved this hive about two feet and put it up on concrete blocks.

So, in summary, my original three hives are now three boxes high with two brood boxes and one empty box. I have two splits, one one box high and one two boxes high.

I set out some honey comb boxes that I had put up over the winter so they could air out. I will put these on top of the hives tomorrow to allow the bees to start putting up some stores.

Well, if I did not kill all of the queens and at least one of the splits worked, it could be a good year!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The deep freeze is over!

Well, it has been quite a while since I have put anything up here, but I have not been doing much either. From the blog I posted back in October, I have pretty much left the bees alone - and it worked! I put a couple more jars of sugar water on in November but really left them alone til yesterday. I did not cover the hives or put in bottom boards or even clear away the snow. I was out of town for most of December and January so the bees fended for themselves.

I had gotten some good vibes a week ago by seeing bees flying from all three hives. Yesterday I went into all three hives to see what was going on. The three hives were virtually identical, this has never been the case before, but I am wondering if it is a result of my "management" or just a coincidence. Each of the hives had a pretty full box of honey still left on the top (this worried me at first). In the second box down (they are all on fours boxes), there was a mix. Generally it was mostly honey, but I also saw what appeared to be new nectar stored (it seems very early for such?). There were some empty spaces on several comb, I assume from winter feeding, but not near as much as I expected. On a couple of frames there was a small amount of brood on the bottoms of these frames. As I went down into the third box from the top (I just pulled a few frames) I could see more brood (somewhat spotty) and some larva (my eyes don't see eggs very well). I saw this as a really good sign, so closed the boxes back up. I took the feeder boxes off of each stack as they had plenty of honey around if the temperature drops again.
One other thing, the bees in boxes 3 and 4 (my hives are numbers 2,3 & 4 for historical reasons) were must feistier than the bees in hive 2. Not sure why, but the bees in those two boxes came out after me as I inspected the hives.
At some point I will want to go all the way to the bottom of these stacks and see if the bottom boxes are empty, and then do a little shuffling to hopefully slow down the swarming instincts, but I will wait a couple of weeks( he crosses his fingers).

So far so good!