The Latest Buzz

Well, the bees are active to say the least.  The hived swarm has a laying queen and lots of bees.  They were so crowded that I went ahead and added a second deep to give them room to expand.  It already has eggs and will be exploding within a month.  They were so bored that they had already attached some comb to the inner cover.  There were already eggs there as well.  

The split hive that I took took out to Mom & Dad’s was close to being honey bound so I gave them another deep as well.  It had a laying worker so I sprayed them with syrup and introduced them all.  There weren’t enough bees to worry about doing a newspaper combine. There was already at least 30 pounds of honey in their one box.  I think they had actually removed some eggs in order to store more honey.  I have a bit of a mess in this box.  I only used nine frames in their first box.  I thought they were all fully drawn, but they have built another thin comb on each side of the two outer frames.  I also added the few bees that were left from a previously acquired swarm that was queenless and failing.

I am still feeding both hives, but at 1 gallon per day per hive, I may stop soon.  I would like to keep feeding to induce comb and brood production, but there is plenty of nectar flow right now that they are missing out on.  I may begin to wean them off the juice this week and leave them to mother nature’s buffet.  Sorry no photos or video this time.  I was just too busy moving things around.

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SCKHPA Spring Meeting

We had a great turnout today out at Bill & Candy’s place.  The day started with a one hour meet and greet.  It’s always good to see what everyone has been up to and just talk bees.  I spent some time with a great family I met last year, the Osborns.  I also had some good talks with B.E. Hopper and Gerry, Libby, Chuck and of course, Bill Vinduska.  Bill and Candy have a wonderful property.  They are very generous to allow our group to take over their home and apiary.

Today, we viewed excellent demonstrations.  Ivan shared some great tips & tricks that he has picked up over his many years as a beekeeper.  We then got the low down on kenyan top bar hive construction and management from Britt Hopper.  Bill showed us how he renders beeswax.  Then after Candy arrived back at the apiary with bee packages, Bill demonstrated how to install a package.  And lastly, a handful of us took a walk out to the bee yard.  A cool front was moving in with an overcast situation and the bees let us know they weren’t happy.  Several of us were reminded what a sting feels like.

All in all, we had a great time and enjoyed eating lunch together… served from the VInduska honey kitchen.  These folks are all top notch and I couldn’t ask for a greater group of like minded beekeeper friends.  Thanks SCKHPA.Image

Great Swarm Grab!

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My luck may be changing.  I just grabbed this swarm from Mom & Dad’s place just north of Augusta.  I only have one very weak hive on their property so I am certain these bees are not from that hive.  This swarm was actually close to the location of the placement of my hives from last year.  I am now wondering if one of my hives swarmed last year, settled somewhere in a hollow tree that I have not seen, and then swarmed from that hive this season.  Either way, I was thrilled to get the call from my Dad.  He was mowing and happened to look up and see a soccer ball sized swarm hanging from a tree about 10 feet up.  Luckily, by the time I got there the bees had settled much closer to the ground on the trunk of two trees.  I wish I had taken a full 10-frame hive to put them in, but instead only had a 5 frame nuc.  I placed two frames of drawn comb in the nuc box to leave them some space for a day or two until I can make it back out there with a full size langstroth.  More pics to come… and video… if I can figure it out.  

EGGS… We have eggs !

Today while getting a haircut, I ran into a fellow beekeeper from my club and we had a good chat.  After talking bees, I decided to come home and check the progress of my split hive that was queenless and seemingly failing upon my last inspection.  The activity at the entrance seemed much more calm.  Once I got the hive open, they remained calm with very little smoke.  I started pulling out frames of honey which they are now starting to cap.  I really thought the entire hive would be capped honey, but much to my surprise, what I found was tons of eggs.  My sunlight was not very good and they were very hard to see, but I would say that most of them were laid today or yesterday. 

The eggs looked good to me.  I didn’t see any signs of multiple eggs in a cell which would be a sure sign of a “laying worker” scenario.  I just hope and pray that these ladies survive.  The bee population is strong as all of the existing capped brood has hatched.  After spotting the eggs, I searched for a queen with no luck.  I was very gentle with this inspection though, as I was not being attacked like usual, which is a good sign.  And a final positive note was the presence of pollen on the outlying cells of eggs.  I had not seen this in any previous inspections.  With a very mild week of spring on the horizon, I am hopeful once again with this tedious endeavor.

Isaiah 43:19

See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

 

Swarm decline

Well folks,  this is the swarm that I got a couple weeks ago in Augusta.  That first night was pretty tragic as I lost about half of the bees.  I had dumped out dead bees and put the remainder back into the nuc box and after a couple of days of settling back in, i then took them out to Mom & Dads place still in the 5 frame nuc box.  Last night was my first chance to open it up and see what I had.  I found no queen, a diminishing population of bees, and no drawn comb.  I had put one frame of drawn brood comb in there for them, but they seem to have no interest in getting started on drawing any new wax.  I’m sure that this hives loss was my fault.  I went ahead and put them into a 10 frame hive and at this point I am feeding them and just hoping that they will draw out a couple of frames before they go.  I was hoping that one of my two hives would have a queen so I could combine them to make a stronger colony, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  I hate to lose the genealogy of the swarm that I collected because they seem to have a great demeanor.  Live & learn.  If anyone in the area has a queen, leave me a comment.  I would even pay for an old, nasty queen that someone is considering pinching.  She could at least get me some eggs to build a new queen from.  Arrrgghh!ImageImageImage

I just can’t win

 

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Deep frame filled with nectar/honey.

Split

Deep frame packed with nectar/honey. Queen-less hive.

 

Well, after giving the girls a break for a few days, I decided to open up the hive that was a split that Julie and I made from her strong hive.  Unfortunately, there is no queen and no sign of eggs.  So she either wasn’t viable, or she took a mating flight and never returned.  My only saving grace right now would be to get a new queen.  I’m sure if I was lucky enough to find one this late in the season, I may run out of nurse bees and the hive could be lost anyway.  I am hoping for another strong swarm to add to them, but my phone hasn’t been ringing much this season.

On the plus side, those bees are working away packing honey in every cell of my the deep hive.  They already have some capped honey stored in upper corners.  So I suppose even if I lose this hive, I may have enough honey to last my family through the summer.  I really hate to lose this hive, but we sort of knew it was a long shot.  What a truly humbling hobby this has been for me.  All money out… no money in.  Maybe I should have set it up as a business so I could claim my losses this season.

I took some feed out to my swarm nuc last night.  I didn’t open them up but the activity looked good.  I saw them bringing in pollen.  I always take that as a good sign, but only time will tell.  I hope to check the nuc for a queen this weekend and transfer them into a deep hive if the weather cooperates.