Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bee Update

The girls are doing well.  As far as my home hive that I split several weeks ago, both splits are doing well.  The laying queen in one is trucking along and I spotted the new virgin queen in the other hive and was able to catch and mark her (Lucky break...I actually saw her crawling on the towel I use to cover the open hive as I am working to keep the sun out as much as possible and keep the bees calm).

At Garden Dreams, I waited a bit too long to split and the girls got a bit cramped.  This is why I sold off most of my hives.  They need my attention in May and it is when I am most busy with work, but I make time for them on my day off!  And two hives is the perfect number for me (Oops now it is four hives again!)  You know you have waited too long to attend to your bees when you see swarm cells well on their way, which I did when I looked in a week ago.  The build up happens fast and you have to be on it, or they run out of room.  Swarming is the natural impulse of the honeybee this time of year, and we beekeepers try to gently dissuade them and ask them to stay with us a bit longer.  

Once I did split, the old hive that was now queenless because I removed the queen to the other split bearded out on the front of the hive every day.  They seemed cramped and grumpy, wanted to swarm but with no queen to take with them (that is totally a guess but it seems to make sense).  I had left them a queen cell to raise a new queen but had a feeling they would swarm with her as soon as she hatched, so something needed to be done.

Bee beard
New split with stuff in front, encouraging the bees to "reorient" to their new hive once they make it by the branch obstacle
So, I added a bit more room to the cramped hive by moving some things around.  When I inspected the other hive (the one that had the laying queen), I found lots of eggs, lots of capped honey, but not much open honey or pollen (food for the brood).  So, I had.....

1) Hive A (aka "Bee Beard Hive") who was cramped full of bees with no laying queen yet...hopefully a virgin queen running around in there somewhere because I saw a hatched swarm cell. (In case they swarmed with her, I left them another cell...maybe I'll live to regret it!)  They were short on space and chock full of honey.

2) Hive B with a laying queen and some capped honey but not much food stored for brood (pollen and open honey near the brood nest) and not as many bees, and some empty space.  

I had read about switching the positions of the hives so returning foragers enter the wrong hive and the weaker hive becomes stronger, so that made sense and that's what I did.   I moved the hive that needed bees and had extra space to the position of the original hive (before I split the hive in 1/2).  It seems to have worked, as there has been a lot of activity at the "weaker hive" and no more bearding at the hive that was so cramped days ago.  We shall see.

I also made a nuc with a waxed cardboard medium nuc box I bought from Dadant.  It is like a tiny file folder box but with bees inside instead of hanging files.  I went with two frames of brood with a queen cell with larva and royal jelly, 2 frames of open honey and a frame of pollen and a frame of nurse bees shaken in for good measure.  I hope they do alright as the temp is dropping into the upper 30s tomorrow night.  This is the smallest split I have made as I usually just use a proper hive.  I ended up putting a tray over top of it weighted with a brick to keep the rain off, though the waxed cardboard is supposed to hold up to several rains.  It is a temporary home, for sure.

Mini nuc
Medium waxed cardboard nuc
Medium nucs are hard to find, as most beekeepers use deeps for their brood nests.


No comments:

Post a Comment