Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer dearth is here

Things have slowed considerably since last weeks hot spell.  Not much in the way of nectar producing flowers out there, and the bees have slowed in their gathering skills.  Last week they were coming back to the hive ten at a time, never ending, this week they are just dribbling back.  Still excited tho as when they hit the landing platform they race inside and up the walls to store what they have.  I expect that they will go into reverse within the next week and start to consume what they have stored to date.  The upper box is full, so I think they will be fine.  The work on the comb has slowed also, three half done.  No nectar, no wax.  The hive will go into slow down brood wise until the fall goldenrod and Astor bloom.  Hope they get the second box done by fall.  Hate to have to feed them.  Rain is on the way they say so maybe that will perc things up some.  Later

Monday, July 18, 2011

Moved to second box

Yea!!! Their building down.  I just saw comb in the second box, looks like their here to stay.  Lots of brood cells closed over in the top box so that looks good too.  Will be fun to see how fast they progress.  Need to start building a third box soon as I want to keep one empty above the screened bottom.  The upper exit seems to be working as no bee's were fanning in this heat today, and all was quiet within the hive (noise wise).  No sign of chalkboard since I switched over and they cleaned up the mess, nor have the hive beetles come back.  I have a trap made if they do.  I am using diatomaceous earth which I also use for vine boring beetles in my garden.  If the bee's fill the second box and move to a third, I will try and gather some honey, otherwise I"ll wait till spring when I switch around the boxes to split the hive.  This is an exciting day.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

First hive box full


Since I installed the new queen, the bee's have been furiously building comb, the box is almost full.  A lot of chatter at the top, with the heat I think they are fanning to keep the temp down.  So I built a top escape for them to let out some of the escess heat and humidity.  Putting it in place meant removing the blanket, sliding in the 3/4 in spacer and putting the blanket back down.  Thought I would try without smoking since it was a quick change.  The bees should have been young and not prone to attack but the minute I lifted the top, one came out and nailed me between the eyes.  That hurt! But I finished the job and left with a few more in pursuit.  5 minutes later there was a conciderable lessening in the bussing, and after a half hour, all was quiet.
I hope they begin building down to the next box this week, I'll feel better knowing they are expanding.  The new hatch from the new queen should start in a week, can't wait.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Adding super

Wed, July 6

Today I completed the section super for the top of the hive and put it in place.  Tried working the hive without a bee suit.  No aggressive behavior and no stings.  The bees are working hard and bringing in a lot of nector, so I thought they could use someplace to store it, making more brood comb available to expand the hive.  They are still working hard, filling the voids with comb from the switch last week.  Should see improvements in a couple of weeks when the new brood arrives.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New queen installed

Sat., July 2

Well,  my wife and I drove the 110 mi out to Pa. to pick up my new queen.  Had to pass Cabela's twice and got the cold shakes both times, but managed to keep going by.  Picked up the queen and headed back after a little NJ shopping on the way.

After everything was put away I took the queen out to the hive.  What a buzz they were making, louder than I've  hear before.  Although some of the new bees were out doing their test flights, most were inside the hive.  Stoked up the smoker and lifted the lid a little and puffed a few into the top and waited, then lifted the matt, smoked some more and pried over the bars and inserted the queen cage between the bars (had already poked a small hole in through the candy to give the bees a start chewing thru.).  Placed the top back on and waited.  It took all a five minutes and the hive became almost quiet and has stayed that way since.  Today they are out gathering, even in the rain.  Much new comb being made.  They are also chewing through the plastic comb which was stuck up against the glass window so they can crawl back and forth.  Wondering if plastic comb is detrimental to the wintering hives???  Will check on the progress on Tues. and see if she is out, if not I'll release her myself (carefully this time).  Let you know how its going.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Lost queen

The other day I began seeing what looked like pellets on the bottom board, the web said it could be wax moth droppings or desiccated bee larva from chalk brood.  I also saw two small hive Beatles, one of which I killed, the other has gone missing.  I decided that I needed to investigate the hive, so I planned on opening it.  I haven't been pleased with the production of the queen and amount of comb that should have been built, so the agenda was to open the hive, transfer all the frames to my octagonal hive and do a thorough inspection in the process.

I gathered all the tools and tables and began disassemblage of the nuc box.  It had been sitting upon my hive and except for use as an overnight space, the bees never started to build in it.  As I pulled each frame I would inspect it for moths, beetles and chalk brood, first thing on each was finding the queen so I could capture her and put her back when all was finished.  The comb was to be removed from each frame, cut to length and width to match my box and the tied to my top bar, finally to be placed back in my hive.  Simple.  Upon opening the top, I was amazed at how little brood there was, and it was scattered all over.  One frame was completely empty of anything.  Most comb was honey bound, showing signs of a failing queen.  There should have been a couple of supercedure cells but there were no eggs to be found for the bees to use for making the new queen.  Without help the hive was doomed.  I slid the knife in to cut the comb and found plastic foundation, what a mess.  Off to the the garage to get a saw.  I cut out the comb with the saw but without squishing the comb, could not cut it to length or width, so off to the garage to get the tin snips,  (all this time the bees are buzzing up a storm), I got stung six times, the little shits deserve to die.  The snips worked out great.  I hunted methodically for the queen but could not find her, although I know she was somewhere in there.  I completed the whole mess in about an hour.  I restacked all the boxes and cleaned up the mess, leaving the extra comb for the bees to clean out.  Later in the evening I went back out to check. They were building new comb already, what a change.  The next morning, (they were in mourning) not a bee would leave the nest.  Bees were everywhere, under, over and all through the hive.  In my enthusiasm to change the hives, I had done the inevitable, I KILLED THE QUEEN.  An Internet search found one person 2 hrs away who had one, hurrah.  Tomorrow its trip time again. 

The inside of the hive is visibly changing each day as the bees make improvements over the clumsily hanging comb, but most are just hanging around, literally.