Sunday, August 28, 2011

Post Earthquakes and Hurricane Inspection...

So after a week of earthquakes and a day of the outer edges of a hurricane I thought since the sun was shining it would be a good day to check the hives. Everything looked good except the blue hive still has me concerned.

Orange Hive
Same as last time. The girls are doing well are just about ready for another super. The majority of the bees have the blond/peach color. Absolutely gorgeous to look at!

Blue Hive
Not much activity coming and going from this hive compared to the orange hive. There's a good amount of bees inside when I opened it but the queen isn't laying much. I found 1 frame with 1 side about 3/4 full of capped brood. I was able to find eggs and larva but it was sparse. Also, I removed 3 queen cells. I figure the bees are trying to tell me something but want to make sure it's possible to get a replacement for her this year if I need to. Hopefully it doesn't come to that given it's so late in the year though. In the meantime I've contacted Dr. Russell again to see what he says and check if it's possible to get another. I really appreciate him taking the time out of his busy schedule to help me with my questions.

Buckfast Queens Brood Pattern

Buckfast Queen Laying

Stained Hive
These girls are still doing awesome. They'll more than likely get a medium super added soon. The queen is a laying machine and just gorgeous! I found her in the top super with a frame of newly drawn comb. She had filled both sides with eggs! Needless to say I like these Carniolans very much!

White Hive
These girls just continue doing their thing. The top medium was 90% drawn and they had already started capping nectar. I added another medium super so they can continue to go at it. Really really happy with these girls. Even more so given they were my first package. I got lucky and got a great queen! I'll definitely make an attempt at raising her daughters next spring.

Girls and their looks...
 This one decided the tip of my finger would make a nice a spot to take a little break and clean herself up a bit.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Quick evening inspection...

Got a chance to go through the hives this evening and overall I was pleased with what I saw. Found all the queens and for the most part everything looked good.

White Hive
These girls are doing very well. They've been working hard on the top medium super and there's only a few frames left that aren't drawn. I believe I've be able to get this hive to draw out another medium super and fill it with a little feeding and a good fall flow. I found the queen in the top deep super and she looked good. Lots and lots of eggs, open and capped brood in the top deep. It was getting dark so I didn't go into the bottom super.

Stained Hive
Another laying machine. They have started to work on drawing wax in the top deep. I found 2 frames FULL of capped brood and lots of eggs and larva. Very pleased with these girls. Hopefully they'll be able to get the deep drawn and filled as well as a medium super before it starts to get chilly.

Blue Hive
I'm a bit concerned about this hive. I found one queen cell on the side of the frame. I'm not sure if it's been there since the last inspection but I did remove it. It wasn't capped, but I think the girls may be telling me something about the queen. She was laying pretty decent at first but has slowed down it seems. I found 1 frame of capped brood (both sides) and did see eggs and larva. It's not as much as compared to the other hives though. I've read the buckfast queens will slow down their laying during a dearth so I'm hoping that's the problem. I've been feeding again since Monday and plan to keep doing it until it starts to get chilly. Hopefully that jumps start her into laying more. We'll see though. I'm going to keep an eye on this hive for sure. I don't believe I have enough time to get another queen here and the hive going before it starts to get chilly so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'm also planning to send a note to Dr. Russell and get his opinion on things tonight. I'll report on what he says. On a positive note... They are doing well on drawing frames. They should be ready for another deep super in a week or 2.

Orange Hive
I'm starting to see the amber peach coloration in the bees from this hive. Still a buncha mutts left from the extra brood I added. I can't wait until the majority are this queens progeny. She's laying very well and they have some capped stores. There's 3.5 frames left to be drawn and they should also be ready for another deep super in a week or 2.

I've again changed feeders after having a BUNCH of drowned bees in the pet waterer feeder I was using. I also noticed the more honey-b-healthy I add the more drowned bees I get. It's all probably in my head but when using it at half strength there's not nearly as many drowned bees in the bowl when it's empty. Anyway since I have trouble killing the bees while trying to help them... I made a little stand up out of egg crate and punched some holes in the lid of 3 quart mason jars. I've been using this to feed since Tuesday of this week (Monday I used the pet waterer) and it seems to be working well. With the pet waterer the bees, jackets, ants, wasps, and bumbles would go through 3 gallons of 1:1 in a day. With the jars it's cut back to 3 quarts. The limited access is the reason but 2 dead bees per day (my highest count so far) versus hundreds helps me sleep at night.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Stained and White...

Got a chance this evening to check both of these hives this evening and even had a little help. My nieces and sister stopped by and my nieces stuck by my side while I went through both hives. My sister was a little more apprehensive so she stayed about 60 feet away watching.

Stained Hive
Lots of eggs, larva, capped brood, honey, and pollen in the hive. I checked both deep supers and was able to find the queen. Beautiful little lady! The side bands on her looked red in the sunlight.

Carniolan Queen

Her Brood Pattern

White Hive
The top medium super is half filled with honey and nectar. They are working on the rest of the foundation building cells. The bottom medium super is chock a block full of honey. I'm guessing it weighs 40-50 pounds. I went through the top deep super and found lots of capped and open brood, larva, eggs, and pollen and honey were stored on the outside frames. There were 2 frames that still needed to be completely drawn in this box and I believe after another week they'll have them drawn out. They've been ignoring them I guess to work on the wax in the 2 medium supers. I didn't find the queen in the top deep super and decided to leave the bottom super alone. Everything looked good though and I'm proud of the Italian queen in this box. I'll enjoy trying to raise her daughters next year. It slipped my mind to get a shot of her brood pattern but will when I go through the whole thing to find her one weekend this month for a photo.

So far I'm very very pleased with the queens I got from Russell's. I can't wait to get the Moonbeam Queen along with more next year.

Another Beetle
It's amazing how these things are little pouncers. I was holding a frame while looking for the queen and saw another beetle come over my shoulder right onto the frame. The girls were on it fast and I smushed it. After explaining to my nieces what it was and what it does they were little hawks looking for them when we pulled a frame out. Our 3 sets of eyes didn't find anymore more luckily. I'm running errands in town tomorrow and will pick up some of the bait I've read about using for them. I'm adding it to the beetle blaster traps I have along with some vegetable oil and all the hives are getting them installed this weekend.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blue and Orange... Widows, beetle, a moth and worms...

This evening I decided I had enough time after work and things around the yard to check on the blue and orange nuc and it's all good news!

Blue Nuc
Found lots of bees and all 5 frames have been drawn out. All 5 frames had either honey, pollen, capped brood, eggs, or open brood in them and they were just full of bees. I decided it was time for them to move up to their permanent hive so I brought out the new hive I had for them and set it up. When I picked up the nuc it felt like it weighed between 25-30 pounds. Pretty heavy I thought for 5 frames. Anyway, everything looked good (even though she's not laying as much as the SKC) so I put them in the new hive and buttoned them up.

Buckfast Queen

Her brood pattern

Orange Nuc
Things also looked great in this one. Lots of bees, eggs, larva, brood, pollen, and honey. This one weighed about 35-40 pounds so they are a little ahead of the blue nuc I guess, which doesn't make sense but... I believe it's the 2 full frames jam packed full of honey I have in this hive though. Like the blue nuc these girls also got new digs.  

Sunkist Cordovan Queen

Her brood pattern

Beetle, moth, and worms
I saw my first small hive beetle today but it wasn't in the hive. I set the orange nuc top down on top of a fence post and just as I was turning away saw something land on it. Figuring I had a chance to make it one less yellow jacket to annoy me while around the hives I checked it out. I was surprised instead by a big fat small hive beetle. The surprise turned quickly to joy as I smashed that big fat small hive beetle! I also found 2 wax worms (I think they were wax worms) and a dead wax moth in the spider web under the orange nuc. The worms were too fat to get through the small screening I placed on the bottom for ventilation and the spider was more worried about me. I went back into the orange hive to check for damage or see if I could see any wax moths and found nothing. I did find pollen and wax on the 4x4 post under the nucs screened hole. Maybe that's where they came from but I reckon they were in the hive... There's no signs of damage on any of the frames though so I'm a little baffled. I'll look into it I guess and see what I can find. I'll also place the beetle traps I have sitting around in all of the hives to be safe.

Black Widows
Much to my surprise when I took the bottoms off the nucs I found a black widow (or 2) in a screen hole in each nuc. The orange nuc had a big female that built her home in one of the screen holes. The blue nuc had a nice female and what I believe was a male with her also in a screen hole. I shooed both of them out and onto the ground. If they make it back that's fine by me as they are good pest control. I doubt I'll have a problem remembering to check under the hives before putting my hands there after finding these 3.

Black widow and worm on bottom of orange nuc

Black widows (males and female) under blue nuc

I plan to check the white and stained hive this weekend if the rain predicted doesn't show. Otherwise I'll get to them on Monday and make a post.

Also... Still lots of orange pollen coming in as well as some cream colored pollen. I'll have to see if I can find the source of the cream stuff. I believe the orange is from the sumacs.