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 :)