Monday, May 31, 2010

Photos of Hive #2

A little fuzzy here but you can see one of the smaller swarm cells.


The Art of Splitting a Hive - Part 2 (May 30th Sunday)

The temperature was in the 90s, however, it wasn't as humid and we waited until approximately 4:30pm to open Hive #2. The smoker was working nicely, which was unusual. I've learned to get the smoker started while suiting up and gathering tools to work in the hives. You don't want to be blowing fire at your bees, just smoke. Untreated burlap, 100% cotton fabric, leaves, anything that is natural and not synthetic is good fuel for a smoker.

The bees were very mild towards me but took an extreme loathing to my father. Later, my father said he had been eating onions and perhaps they didn't like the smell. Not sure. The bees somehow got under his veil and stung him on the nose. Then my husband who was on hand to keep the smoker going was stung on the ear. The girls were feisty. We went through two supers and could not find the queen. I was determined to find her. It was hot, the bees were bumping into our veils, I tried to to talk to them, and they weren't hearing any of it. No. We did find the queen in the 3rd frame to the last in the very bottom brood super. She was on a frame with a large swarm (queen) cell.

We had an empty super ready to place the queen in when we found her. We brushed her, the attendants and other bees into the empty brood and closed it up temporarily. We found a couple of brood frames, frames full of honey, and pollen frame and placed that in with her. We looked closely at each frame to make sure there were no queen cells on them before inserting them into the new hive. Then filled it up with empty frames. Next, we stuffed the entrance with cloth and relocated her and the new super far away from the parent colony.

We replaced the missing frames with new frames and closed the hive back up. The swarm cells should be hatching very soon and hopefully, the bees will want to stay. After this process was accomplished, we noticed that the bees were no longer hanging out on the porch.

It is possible and highly likely the field bees from the new hive will go back to the parent colony. The nurse bees will remain with the old queen. We have installed an entrance reducer in the new hive to prevent robber bees and allow the bees more control of the entrance to the hive.


The Art of Splitting a Hive - Part 1 (May 27th Thursday)

Last Thursday, May 27th, my father called me and said he thought one of my hives swarmed. There was a cluster of honeybees way up in a tree near the bee yard. I asked him if he could capture them while I was on my way out to his house as it would be an hour before I arrived. He went back out and they had flown away deeper into the woods and he wasn't able to locate them. The honeybees must have been from a neighbor's hive or a wild bee hive.

When I arrived at my dad's house it was 91 degrees and approximately 1pm. My mother had finished preparing lunch and I enjoyed her wonderful cooked meal of cornbread, beans with green onion, and corn on the cob. My father and I then suited up and went into the bee yard approximately 2pm and the temperature had risen to 95 degrees. Inside a bee suit and direct sun a felt like 100 degrees.

We opened up Hive #2 because it had a lot of bees "out on the porch" meaning that bees were covering the outside from the entrance up the front. There were a lot of bees in the hive and we were going to look for swarm cells (queen cells) to see if what we thought was on target, this hive was getting ready to swarm.

We did find many thick and long swarm cells but did not find the queen. We went through three supers twice and could not find the queen. It was getting hotter and we were pretty exhausted so we decided to call it quits and try again in a couple of days with plan B if we could not find the queen.

There were several possible variables here:
1) the queen died and the bees were creating a new queen
2) the hive swarmed and the old queen went with the swarm (we ruled that out because there were thousands of bees in the hive. Too many to believe these were remaining bees.)
3) the queen died and there was a virgin queen in the amongst the workers. Virgin queens are hard to spot because their abdomens aren't full of eggs yet. But there were closed up swarm cells so if the virgin queen was in the hive she would have killed the queens in the swarm cells.

We closed up the hive and tried to cool down. A great way to cool down is to take a wet wash cloth and wrap it around ice cubes and apply it to the back of the neck. Then take a couple more wash cloths that have been run under very cold water and lay one each on your arms. Extend your arms with palms up and place the wash cloths where the crook of your arm is and that will bring your body temp down.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Inspection - Fail

The rains made it impossible to get to all the hives. Only made one inspection. Did not find any wax moths, hive beetles, or ants in hive; however, did find moth larvae under screened bottom board. Lifted off the hive body, swept larvae off and killed them. Even though the rains are terrific for the gardens it does seem to incite the insects to breed rapidly. Lots of birds in the area so I hope they fill their bellies with these insects.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Inspection and Possible Split - May 24, 2010

Today I will be removing feeders from three of the hives, determining if any need additional super, and placing honey supers on the hives that currently don't have one. Also, checking for moths and hive beetles as we've been having rain for the past two weeks.

One hive may be ready to swarm and we will be checking for swarm cells and possibly splitting this hive today. Removing the queen, take a frame of open brood - nurse bees stay with her, frame of honey, a couple of open frames, and frame with pollen. Don't need a whole lot of bees to take with her. Move the queen and new box away from parent hive. For the new hive: find a couple of frames with nice fat swarm cells, and leave most of the bees behind in the new hive. Honey frames, brood, pollen frame, and an open frame.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Inspection - May 10th, Monday

Hives (Haymarket) - Found lots of eggs and brood. Bees have populated very nicely. No signs of hive beetles or ants. Using the chicken feeders to supply sugar syrup in hives was a brillant idea that my father came up with this past Spring. Cut down on pests invading the top feeders. I plan to stop feeding the bees in this hives within a week or two and will put honey supers on top.

Hives (Hume)

Hive #1 (from left - last hive on the end- removed the top feeder and inserted a Mann Lake Feeder that was modified so that the top cover could be fitted on. I'm not fond of the top feeders because they attract ants, hive beetles, and bees drown in them. The Mann Lake feeder has plastic mesh tubes that fit down in a top board. The only problem with the design is that the board juts up and doesn't allow the top cover to fit on the super. My father cut the board down to where it fits proper and works like a charm.

Did not put a honey super on this one because we are still feeding this colony. The bees built up a double comb on one of the frames and it collapsed when I pulled out the frame. We had to prop it up with a frame and slid a support frame in. Very prolific in brood but not the build up of honey stores as we have seen in the other hives. No pests found.

Hive #2 - 6: Lots of bees and brood. Honey stores sufficient. Removed the feeders and put on the honey supers. Did find a hive beetle in top feeder on Hive #2. We removed the feeders so hopefully that will eliminate the problem.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Inspection - May 2, 2010

No sign of small hive beetles (SHB) so I didn't use the traps. Lots of eggs, brood, honey, and colorful pollen.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Small Hive Beetle Trap

Today, May 2, 2010, I will try out the new and improved McGuiver style SHB trap. Use slim jewel CD/DVD case and snap out center tabs. Bait for small hive beetles. or

This method was mentioned in my latest Loudoun County Beekeeping newsletter. Very excited and high hopes for this latest method.