Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October Followup

So as you can tell I wasn't very good at keeping this up to date and now I'm doing bunch postings based off my notebooks.  October was not the best month for me and the bees sadly.  I kept up my feeding regimen even though I would have preferred to let them forage naturally, but we really didn't have a fall flow.

For winter prep I added top insulation, closed all my bottom entrances and prepped some fencing for wind blocks.  I live out in the middle of a corn field and the wind whips through here in the winter so  I thought it best to give them some assortment of wind break.

Hive recaps:

Hive 1:  Going strong, weighs a ton (had to move the hive to the concrete slab)  (Native bred queen)
Hive 2:  I'm not too worried about this hive it feels pretty heavy and should winter fine. (Carnelian from original nuc)

Hive 3: Robbed, but still has a fair amount of stores, downsized to a nuc box with 10 frames
Hive 4: Robbed blind over a weekend while I was gone lost the queen and a fair number of bee's to starvation -- remainder combined with hive 3

Nuc 1: (Hive 3&4 combine) seems to be doing alright after the combine, need to build a top entrance and add insulation still.
Nuc 2: Strong for a nuc, added insulation and a top entrance will hope it survives the winter.

Since its October 30th I doubt there's much more I can do for these bee's.  I do have the candy boards for later in the season and we'll see how they fair.  I'll keep a bi weekly check knocking on them to make sure they're still going and will probably add candy boards to them in a couple weeks.

I'm really wanting to ensure Nuc 2 survives so they may get moved to an observation hive that resides in my dining room for the winter.  However my better half is very leery of this idea so its taking a lot of sweet talking I just have to make him decide by this weekend because it's the last time it'll have enough semblance of warmth to move them to the observation hive and bring them in the house.

Late posting for September

To bring you up to speed after my last post I ended up ordering a Zia queen as one of the swarms didn't fare so well.  The Zia queen was incredible but also very wierd.  I put her in and let them be for a week, when I finally decided to peek in on them she was laying wonderfully.  So I figured I'd just feed them a bit and they'd build up great for winter, however thats not how it worked out.  After about 2 weeks I checked in on the new queen to discover 3 queen cells and no queen, I decided maybe she just didn't like my hives and left things alone.  Much to my suprise she had taken up residence two hives over.  I know it had to be her because I only had 1 marked queen and I found her and the hives original queen.  This completely befuddled me because everything I've read says 2 queens won't leave others alone, which I guess is mostly true because she ended up in one of the other nuc's and I was fine with that because that was another naturally mated queen that was doing so-so...

Fast forward to the start of September and this was my layout:

Hive 1: Originally from a nuc, swarmed and produced an incredible queen very heavy with winter stores, good bee population

Hive 2: Originally from a nuc, had build up issues and the bee bread mystery, was visited by the Zia queen, light on stores needed heavy feeding, has an ok bee population

  • I tried feeding this hive with heavy sryup 5:3 but they really didn't want to take it till the end of sept
  • Failure on my part to do a full tear down inspection -- feels like about 80 lbs
  • Made up some sugar boards to feed later in the winter

Hive 3: First swarm from hive 1, iffy queen possible drone layer, possibly laying worker, very very light on stores. Small worker population.

  • Found the queen and set her aside -- Did a full hive shake out on the other side of my 6 acres
  • this hive was eating about a gallon of 5:3 syrup every 3-5 days
  • Did a follow up inspection at the end of sept laying patter much better stores much better

Hive 4: Afterswarm from hive 1, queen never spotted, after 30 days no queen sign found, installed Zia queen, 1 full medium super of honey, fair bee population

  • Did feed a small amount
  • Seems to be doing ok
  • Zia queen left queen cells behind

Nuc 1 & 2 were were just attempts at producing queens nuc 1 was a complete failure.  Nuc 2 produced queens but they didn't mate well, but was overtaken by the Zia queen who likes to run amok.

  • Nuc 1 combined with Nuc 2
  • Nuc 2 Ignoring all feed
  • Mid september inspection Zia queen missing, 3 new queen cells... (WTF is up with this zia queen)

So all in all half my hives aren't as promising for winter stores as I would like but my Zia queen has gotten around and we'll see how her daughters fair.