Hive Inspection: May 28, 2012

First off, as the son of a military veteran and the spouse of a military woman I wish all the best to our armed forces the world over, current, past, and future. You have my deepest respect and admiration for the work you do.

No pictures. I keep forgetting the camera, and my hands get so sticky with propolis and what not that I’m not sure I’d want to touch Courtney’s new camera anyway. The day was nice though, about 75 with lots of rain the previous few days. Everything was nice and green and in bloom, so the bees were busy.

I had a prospective beekeeper come over and see the hives to give him the experience. He and his wife are hoping to start next year. It was a great day to show people the hives. Very calm.

Here’s the report by hive:

Hive 1

Mackay did this hive. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have someone competent actually helping me. It makes such a HUGE difference in being able to get three five hives quickly. As we work, we talk out the individual inspections so that we know what is going on. We also switch hives each time to make sure we both know what is going on. But I digress…

Hive 1 was building well. They have built out about 50% of both the bottom and top brood box. They had solid brood patterns, lots of bees, and otherwise are looking good. I will admit that I thought they’d be farther along by now, but it’s hard for me to compare this hive with past experience because I haven’t done packages before this year. I guess I can say that they’re about as far along as we were at this point last year.

One thing we noticed in this hive and in hive 5 was that they are building right-heavy, meaning that they are building comb on frames 4-9, but not frames 1-3 in both hives. The left side faces the sun, and I wondered if that would do it until I saw hive 5. That side is fully shaded by hive 4.

Any thoughts, beeks?

Hive 2

Hive 2 was our queenless hive that we let requeen. I admit I’ve been very nervous watching this hive. The hive is still bursting with bees, and literally ever frame is super heavy with nectar. It’s incredible how much nectar is in there. I would guess they already have some 150 lbs of honey in that hive. We ended up adding the second honey super on this hive because of how heavy they are.

We dug quite deep in this hive (more defensive, by the way, than the other hives, which I’m attributing to the heavy honey stores) searching for the queen. The top brood box was nothing but honey, which has me feeling a touch concerned that the hive might be feeling honey bound. Any advice on this?

The bottom box was quite full of bees, but the frames were mostly open. These were old brood frames. Looking down between the frames, I noticed that no frames were capped, which is a terrible sign. We pulled our first frame (frame 5) and there was nothing in it. Blank. By this time, I was feeling quite worried that we didn’t have a viable queen. However, frame 6 showed a small pattern of new eggs laid perfectly across the bottom of the cells. I had worried that a worker would start laying, but given how deep these eggs were, I’m thinking these were laid by a queen.

We never did find her. Honestly, at this point, we just closed up the hive because I didn’t want to disturb them any more than we had already.

Hive 3

Very similar to hive 1. About the same progression.

We did find this queen. Mackay and I both are becoming quite adept at spotting the queen, which I’m glad for since these are unmarked queens. Now having said that, I’ll admit that she was the only queen we found yesterday. 🙂 Adept indeed….

Hive 4

Hive 4 was the split from Hie 2, and they are doing well. Not nearly as well as Hive 2 in terms of production, but I think they are about to reverse that trend. Hive 2 is still losing bees and no new bees will hatch for another 19 days or so. Hive 4, on the other hand, is heavy on the brood with a strong brood pattern, and my guess is they’ll overtake Hive 2 as the dominate hive.

I’ve always really liked this queen, but now that I can compare her to three other queens (Hive 2 is her daughter, so I don’t compare that direction), I’m noticing how heavy on the propolis this queen is. Buckets of it. Hive 2 and 4 are both so sticky and messy, which is frustrating.

I really like the queen, but when she does go (this fall, spring I think), I’m very tempted to replace her with an Italian. I’ve never done the Italians, but my dad’s Italian hives are virtually propolis free. I don’t mind a small bit of propolis, but I’ll open Hive 2 and 4 and find POOLS of propolis in some places. It’s slightly on the ridiculous side.

Hive 5

Very similar to Hive 1. And almost no propolis. One complaint from this hive, however, is a HUGE quantity of bridge comb between the two brood boxes. There was enough that when I lifted the top brood box, the bridge comb actually lifted two or three other frames. This hive was also building a host of blade comb. I hate to see the blades because of the wasted effort.

Oh, we also snagged some fresh honey from a few cells of bridge comb that were torn open. VERY light and sweet, even more so than the honey we harvested last fall.

Last bit… Afterward, Mackay and I were talking about the future of our beekeeping. He’s going to be moving to grad school sooner or later (probably another two years or so), but I don’t know if I can handle five hives by myself. So much of what I enjoy about beekeeping is the social aspect of it all. That being said, I have to wonder if I could handle top bars by myself. They are quite a bit easier to manipulate and even faster to work through since so much can be done through a side viewing window. I’m quite tempted to try and sell my five hives come the end of the fall and turn around and buy five top bars. Yes, it’d be starting over, but if the change makes it possible to continue doing what I enjoy and do it well….

What’s the going price for a full hive with bees? The equipment plus a package is around $350 or so, so I could only guess that a productive proven hive would be north of that figure. I don’t know. I’ve got some friends who would be interested.

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One Response to Hive Inspection: May 28, 2012

  1. Emily Heath says:

    Having a bee partner does make things so much easier!

    The propolis pools may be annoying but bear in mind that propolis is very healthy for bees, with all its antibacterial properties. That may be a contributing factor to the hive doing well. Pools of propolis I’ve not seen before though!

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