Saturday, April 21, 2012

A new year....

Well it is spring again, so time to give some time to the bees. I haven't posted in a while, so I will try to recap the last couple of months.
Back in early March I went through all of the hives and tried to give them a little room for build-up.  We had a really warm winter, so I thought they might be beginning to think about swarming already.  I did not manipulate the hive as much as I have done in the past, but still trying to figure out how much manipulation is enough.
I did split Hive #M as it was packed out with bees in four boxes.  I just took two of the boxes and put them on a new bottom board and let them go.  I made sure I had larva (and hopefully eggs) in both hives so that the one that ended up without the queen would make another one.  We'll call these hives M1 and M2 from now on.
Basketball sized swarm
So, of course a couple of weeks ago I had a giant swarm show up in the back yard (thankfully).  This is no doubt from one of my hives - I am really not sure which one.  I captured it into a couple of medium boxes with some old brood frame - they seem to have settled in.  The next day there was another swarm on the same bush - it was much smaller and I think just some residual bees that couldn't figure out where to go.  I dumped these into the new hive also - didn't see a lot of dead bee bodies, so they must have gotten along OK.  Additional bees hung around that bush for a couple of days before finally giving up.  I'll call the new swarm Hive - #1 (the old Hive #1 died a couple of years ago, I have never reused the number :)

Hive Locations
Last week, I went into all of the hives again.
Hive #1 (the swarm hive) - is building up new comb quite nicely, I had put some sugar water on the hive and they went through two quarts.  Looks like a healthy new start.
Hive #2 - this hive seems very healthy, in four boxes, perhaps I should have split it, perhaps it is where the swarm came from - don't know.  Still seems to be doing well.  Went ahead and put another box on top for honey.
Hive #3 - looks OK (brood, larva, honey) but they do not seem to be building up much, may be an old queen.
Hive #4 - looks strong, lots of bees across 4 hives, but not sure there is a queen, there is brood, but not sure I could find larva?  Will keep checking.
Hive #M1 - looked OK, but I think they did not restock their queen when I split this one.  I went into Hive #2 and removed a couple of frames of larva/eggs and placed them in Hive #M1 - I am hoping they will make a new queen for themselves or this hive will be in trouble soon.
Box mess from empty slot
Hive #M2 - this is obviously where the queen ended up, they have packed out this hive with brood and honey.  I had inadvertently left to frame positions open (ie no frame or foundation) well they filled this space with new comb and packed it out with larva and honey.  One of these they also attached to the inner cover, so when I opened it up all of this comb came with me.  I went ahead a cut this cob off of the inner cover and placed it into an empty frame with rubber bands, but I did a lot of squishing to get it in there - if any of these larva survive, I will be surprised - but I did clean up the mess.  Since this went so poorly, I decided to leave the other open frame area alone, we will see over time if this was a good decision.

This week, went into the hives again to see what was up.
Bee larva and some capped brood
Hive #1 - again looked like a good young hive, new comb being built and filled, brood and larva sufficient.
Hive #2 - The box on top with new foundation was built up - good.  I looked one box down and there were brood in the fourth box.  I am guessing that not all of the boxes are full down below, but I don't care at this point.  It will be interesting to see what this looks like in the Fall.
Hive #3 - Again this hive looks healthy but slow - I guess they just are on vacation.
Hive #4 - This box was busting with bees and honey.  I want ahead an took 9 frames of honey from this hive.  I checked below, as I was worried about a queen, and saw some open queen cells hopefully this will turn into larva in a couple of weeks.
Hive #M1 - some honey put up, but down below where I had put the larva and eggs, again I saw some queen cells, so this is a good sign, hopefully this hive will haver a laying queen soon.
Hive #M2 - New box of foundation on top was being pulled and filled diligently, below all looked good, these guys might produce honey this season.

Cooler full of honey frames - mmmmm
Came inside and filled up 18 pints!  Finally some honey for family and friends.



1 comment:

Marks Bees said...

Rich: That's beautiful honey in the cooler! Looks like the ladies are doing great! Keep up the good work! -Mark