Sunday, April 29, 2012

Another swarm from the orange hive...

Well the orange hive put out another swarm today. It's been about 8 days since they swarmed the first time and this is another big cluster of bees. Not sure if they have a queen or not but I was able to get 85% or so of them into a nuc box. I'm hoping I got the queen if they had one and that they stay. There were bees landing back on the branch they moved to when I cut the first down but they weren't clustering, just spread out. Time will tell if I go the queen I guess.

Also I need to fix the hive stands. There's a small crack under the bottom boards and these bees did what the stained hive did by going under it. I put the bottom slide in boards on the stained and orange hive and tonight I'll spray whatever bees have accumulated under them with soapy water. I'm not going to deal with cutting hives out every time I have a swarm. I'm planning to fix them tomorrow and I will build the hive differently in the future to prevent it from happening again.

Second swarm from orange hive.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cut out and a queenless hive...

Chris came over this evening and helped me get the hive out from under the stained hive. We ended up cutting it out as they didn't have a queen. Nice comb but it was filled with drone brood so I'm guessing it had a laying worker. Such a shame to destroy such nice comb and the delicious honey they had created.

So after cutting it out we remounted the stained hive and took a look at things. If they have a queen she isn't laying and we didn't see her. Not sure where she was as I saw her on Saturday when I checked. Anyway we took a frame of eggs from the blue hive and gave it to them to raise their own. If the bees attempt to rebuild under the hive I'll hit them with some soap and water in a sprayer until I get them all. Just can't have them building under the hive like that. I'd really like to know what happened to the queen though and where she went. Anyway, here's the video. There is a little language to go along with a lot of bees so keep that in mind before viewing.

Hive cut out...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

It was a really busy day with the bees!

So a couple of posts ago I talked about and showed a video of my stained hive swarming and appearing to return to the hive. Well today after checking all the hives I found out... Not so much...

White Hive
Looked good. They are still building nicely and saw lots of eggs and brood. Didn't look for the queen as it looked like a storm was coming and the wind was picking up.

Stained Hive
Well this was a shocker. As I said above the swarm that left on the 8th appeared to return into the hive but after a thorough check today of this hive and not finding any eggs or larva I started tearing it apart looking for a queen. To my surprise I found a queen inside the bottom super on the 3rd frame. No eggs or brood around her but we'll get into that in a bit. So while looking for the queen I noticed that there was what appeared to be capped honey on the bottom board screen. Upon closer inspection it turns out it's not capped honey, it's comb. This hive has a hive living under it. I guess the swarm didn't go back inside after all. They built a nice little nest in 1/4 of the screen bottom board that I will have to cut out. Not sure if I'll combine it back with the hive above it or put it into it's own nuc though. It's supposed to rain and be cooler for the next few days so I have until Thursday at least to decide. I'll see if my buddy can help and offer some guidance with it and I'll be sure to get it on video. I have an idea to get them down using a heat gun and a box though.

Also these girls were a bit testy today and after being a little rough I got my first sting of the year... Right to the knee. I'll have to tell my niece we're even now after she got stung last week watching me inspect the hives.

Blue Hive
They have their own queen and she's laying eggs already. She was a nice fat little girl and I was excited to see her for the first time. I'll see about getting a photo of her next time I'm in the hive. Everything else looked good also and there's still a lot of bees in the hive.

Orange Hive
Well these girls got a little impatient and swarmed today. I knew it was coming but didn't expect it to happen today. More on that below. The hive looked good and they had some capped queen cells. I didn't pull it all apart however but will next week just to be sure everything is ok. There's still a very large amount of bees left inside this hive.

Blue Nuc
Still full of bees. They've made about 10 queen cells on the frame I put in last week. I reckon the girls want a queen badly.

Orange Nuc
I was a little worried when I first opened the hive up and didn't see the queen cells. I started to second quess myself and thought maybe I had damaged it or something while inspecting last week. Or heck, maybe that what I thought was a queen cell wasn't. But then to my surprise I see this beautiful little queen crawling around on one of the frames. She is a little small but boy was I excited. This was the first queen I've raised  and the start of creating my own strain of bee. I can't wait to see how she's doing next week when I check on them.

Natural Nuc
This is the new nuc I created from the sunkist swarm. The basketball size cluster found a nice peach tree to hang out in while the scouts were out looking for a new home. I took the swarm trap down from the barn loft and shook them into it after adding some lemongrass oil to a frame. The swarm was big enough I felt it needed another nuc box on top. I'll have to pick up a hive or build one very soon for these girls. Given this was my first real swarm catch (the other caught themselves) I was very excited. The bees were very docile and went right into the hive. Hopefully they will stay. It's started to rain and is forecasted to continue the next few days so that may keep them there. I'll need to add a feeder though just to be safe and will do so this evening or tomorrow if the rain stops for a few minutes.

Swarm and hiving video

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Half checks...

Checked half the hives this evening with my niece watching...

Orange Hive
Looked great. Lots of eggs brood and bees. They will need a empty super probably next week. I also plan to pull a split or two from them when they queens I ordered arrive.

Blue Hive
No queen yet but they do have a nice queen cell. Anytime now I guess. Lots of bees still in the hive but hardly any capped brood left.

Orange Nuc
Just a little brood left and a nice capped queen cell. They are building comb and storing nectar in the meantime.

Blue Nuc
Didn't see a queen, a queen cell, or any eggs so I added a frame of mixed eggs/brood from the orange hive to them.

Friday the 13th I ordered some more queens from Russell's. Not sure when I will get them but I ordered another Sunkist Cordovan (love the color of these bees), another Buckfast to try again, a Russell's Italian, and a Russell's Moonbeam. Hopefully I'll get them between now and the middle of May. In the meantime I've got lots of nucs and hives to build so I'll have a place for all these bees. Hopefully and if all goes well I'll have 10 hives and 6-10 nucs here going into winter and next year I'll start placing hives and nucs at the farm and other places.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter check...

Did a quick check on all the hives and everything looked good. Took a frame of bees from the blue nuc and added it to the orange nuc since the blue nuc was so full of bees. No sign of a queen in the blue nuc yet but the queen cell is gone. It is possible I missed her though. If I don't see any eggs or a queen in a week or two I'll look around for a queen for them. This is the first time I've let them raise their own and I'll admit I'm not too positive I know what I'm doing. :^) Also the stained hive is just as full as it was before. Not sure what was going on with them the other day when they swarmed, but they stuck around. Also the white hive is continuing along although it's a lot slower than the others. Nice amount of brood and eggs though and she's got a really nice pattern.

Also I had some strange comb in the Orange hive. I added a deep super for them and they built the comb across two of the frames in 3 places instead of following along with the frame. It totally connected 2 of the frames together down the full length and was filled with brood. I removed all of it and hopefully they get it right this time. It was strange because all around the 3 sections they built it like it should have been built.

Swarm returning to hive.