Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bee Bread Mystery

So I did my inspection a day early I should have waited but I felt like being outdoors.  I also went gloveless today which I probably wasn't ready to do... I started with my two main hives, unfortunately after a few photos I took a stinger to the thumb which made me jump and take a stinger to the next 3 fingers.  Most of the time a sting just hurts but today all 4 fingers swelled and became too stiff to operate the camera.

The hive with just medium boxes was concerning me the most, last time I was in there I saw 5 or 6 queen cups like they were thinking about swarming.  Digging through the box they didn't appear to be honey bound but I think they may have bound themselves with bee bread/pollen.


The bottom hive body had 6 of 10 frames filled like that on both sides, the next one up had 3 frames filled both sides with the other 7 frames having a spattering of brood and nectar.  I went frame by frame and started to get a little worried that the queen had taken a swarm and left.  When I finally found her up in the honey super laying in whatever cell she could find. They've only drawn 4 of 10 frames in the honey super so I haven't been real eager to add another just yet. I did do some re-arranging of empty s with bee bread down below which is probably why I got stung.  Hopefully the queen will get to laying again and they'll give up on swarming.

The hive that swarmed had one hive body with 5 of 10 frames full of bee bread and maybe that's why they swarmed.  That hive was done with deeps and has now became the bane of my inspections.  Both of the  deeps will be cut down come spring and if I could figure out a way to do it now and let them keep their stores I would.  I didn't see the queen or any sign that they have a queen. I found where she hatched and she chewed out the other cells but I'm starting to wonder if she didn't make it back from her mating session.8 more day's will be a month since that hive swarmed so I'll wait till next Friday before I give in and order a queen.

Swarm 1:

Seems to be doing all right building comb like crazy and they're doing a pretty good job of it no wild and crooked combs.  This is the one where I got shots of the queen returning from her mating flight on Saturday. I would hope she'll start laying by end of week.

Swarm 2:

Isn't doing as well it's not drawing out comb all that quickly and I saw the open queen cell but I haven't seen her in the nuc.

The nuc I started off the extra queen cells well they built up comb but the queen's didn't hatch, this will get combined with swarm 2 next week.  Which makes sure swarm 2 has plenty of time for the queen to go out and mate and come back before I adjust their housing.  If I don't see egg signs by next Friday I may end up combining both with swarm 1, but if I have to order a queen maybe I'll just get two... but I don't think they'll build up enough to survive the winter so it's iffy.


I popped in to see if I had comments and realized I forgot to publish my last few blogs.  Sorry about that.

First week of August

While its been 2 weeks since my last inspection, I just wasn't feeling up to tearing into the hives.  My party drained me and its taking a bit to bounce back.  Also cleanup is much less fun than the party.  I did walk by and see plenty of activity from the hives so I wan't incredibly worried.  Also to make me feel alot better Swarm 1 made me feel incredibly encouraged.  Take a look at who's returning from her mating flight, she missed the door but at least I know this swarm has a queen, now to wait and see if she's well mated or if they supersede her.

I did watch her for about 20 minutes and she finally decided she'd had enough hanging around and high tailed it indoors.  For as big as she is she can really move, I tried to get photos of her moving inside but when she decided it was time to go bam she was off and before I could get her in focus she was inside.

On the 8th I'll do a full inspection of all 3 hives and the 2 nucs with photos of each.  Plus that'll give me some time to get the hardware put together and painted.

July 20th Swarm Followup

Well I probably should have waited long to check in on my swarms but I needed to know what was going on so a quick check aught to give me some idea.

Swarm 1 (the original, originally larger than a basketball):

When I popped open this box I realized it had shrunk by an incredible amount of bee's.  Best estimation now was I was down to about a large grapefruit sized swarm.  That worried me that there'd be no queen left behind.  I didn't have any frames of egg's that matched up to the hive body size so I went to the hive they swarmed from and cutout two of the queen cells they were too close together to only get one.  I sat it between two frames at the top and crossed my fingers.  If there was a queen these poor ladies were probably going to be killed but I wanted to be sure a queen was there.  I also had 16 queen cells in the hive they swarmed from all capped and good to go.

Swarm 2 (originally baseballish sized):

This one seemed to be doing quite well I had given them a frame of nectar, 1 foundation, 1 foundation-less, and 1 capped honey.  While probably not the best for this swarm I'm kicking myself left and right for not just sticking with 1 size hive bodies.  Next spring I will only have mediums these deeps are ticking me off.  I didn't observe any eggs but it had only been 4 days since swarming.  However to be on the safe side I gave them 2 queen cells as well.

It's not real promising that these are going to result to much being so late in the year but we shall see I may start feeding to help them out.  I'm a tad hesitant to feed after reading more of Michael Bush's work but to get these guys through the winter I may not have a choice especially with the drought we've had.

I got my new equipment 15 new mediums and frames, overkill maybe but I'd rather be prepared next year instead of run out of equipment.  I also picked up 4 nuc hive body's so I could move the ladies out of the plastic home that probably isn't all the best for them.  They seem to be doing all right but we'll get them moved around soon.

Also since I had the extra nuc bodies I decided to take a frame of honey and some partially drawn frames plus a queen cell frame from the hive that swarmed and drop them into the nuc.  I figure this way with 4 hives sending out queens hopefully at least 2 of them will mate properly and start building up then I can combine any of the failures.

All the ladies will get a 2 week reprieve from my intrusions since next week I have a house party and will have too many guest to be stirring up the queen-less hives.

The unexpected Swarm

So I wish I would have taken better pictures but I came home to find something I really hadn't expected.  My poor peach tree leaning over from the weight of a crap ton of bee's.  This picture doesn't do it justice but when you have this many bee's escaping a camera isn't the first thing that comes to mind.

Both of those boxes were crammed full of bee's and the wall there were the ones debating on going inside.  This was also shot after I had done my best attempt at catching a swarm of bee's.  I laid out a blanket because I didn't really have a sheet to spare, i put an empty super under the basket ball size chunk of bee's then gave the tree 2 good shakes and plop, most of the bee's landed in the box.

The first attempt went very poorly I rushed too much didn't get things laid out right and when I gave the tree a good shake the queen didn't come down. So within 15 minutes all the bee's were back in the tree...  The second attempt was much more relaxed and my shake of the tree a bit more forceful.

Now after what seemed like a successful swarm catch, I went in the house and figured I'd wait and check on them at sunset because it was 100+ that day and my bee suit was not something I wanted to spend a lot of time in.  Even though I got a really nice ultra breeze suit its still rather warm to be wearing when its 100.  My brother showed up about 2 hours later and we opted to go swimming. After about 30 minutes in the pool there was an unmistakable buzz in the air and this giant cloud of bee's came floating overhead.  Now any rational person would have probably just ducked down in the pool and said that's neat but no I go darting in the house to grab my car keys throw a cardboard box in the trunk and start following the cloud.... It took them all of 10 minutes to disappear into the corn field which was really disappointing to me, that I was going to loose that many bee's.  While I know its good to help nature repopulate this is my first year and I wanted no escapees.  So I drove around the block for a bit only to give up and head home.  Much to my surprise as I pulled into the drive way the cloud was coming out of the corn field and landing on some poison sumac across the road from me.

Now here is where I probably made another newbie mistake, I gave them about an hour to finish landing it was roughly 5pm which had I done my home work I would have known that they weren't going to go anywhere else that night. The smart thing to have done would have been to wait until the last few rays of daylight and try re-catching them then.  It would have been a lot cooler and I probably would have had more success as they would have been in a tighter ball.

I after the majority of them had stopped flying I setup my catching equipment again with a slight adjustment 1 hive body and no frames.

Here's me cutting down the plant they landed on.

And here I realize crap... they landed on two plants so I'll shake one then the other.

Here's after I've shaken the second plant and realize there still another chunk on a small bush.
 Here's after all the bushes have been shaken, and the bee's are refusing to use the door they just want to hang out on the outside.

So I thought I had caught the swarm a second time and that they'd stick around.  We watched them for a couple hours and they seemed to be content.  I finally decided it was time to head to bed but I was still worried they'd take off again and I really didn't want to loose that many bee's.

Fast forward to the next morning and I had a softball size swarm hanging from my car.... bee's just don't care what you want they do whatever they feel like.  I got those little buggers hived in one of my cardboard/plastic nuc's.  With this being a smaller swarm I wasn't sure if this was an afterswarm or if the ones I had caught had decided to split up.

I didn't want to go digging around in the swarm box because I didn't want anyone to abscond because I was interfering too much.

So I decided to let things alone go order more equipment since I had nothing left no honey supers or anything.  Being my first year I thought 2 deeps and 8 mediums would suffice for 2 hives, boy was I wrong.