Here’s the details of our hive inspection from last Friday.
Hive 1—Doing well. I did not find the queen, but I did find plenty of eggs. One thing I’ve noticed is that they are not really drawing out the bottom of the bottom brood box. I have to wonder if that is a ventilation issue with the new screened bottom boards. I just don’t know. I have debated adding a slatted board to the hives to see what that would do. This is something I’m noticing across all of the hives.
I have not yet felt the need to start staggering the hive boxes to provide additional ventilation at the top of the hive though. I do like the reduced number of entrances.
Hive 2—This hive is doing ridiculous. 🙂
The hive is already fully supered, and I expect to do an early harvest in two weeks. I really do. They are just that full. I was worried about them having a honey dome, but they do not. The new queen (I still haven’t found her) is laying quite heavily throughout the top and bottom brood boxes as well. I’m immensely pleased with how this split has gone.
Hive 3—I need to find this queen and slap her. She laid eggs in the honey super!!! The turkey.
The good news is that she laid eggs in only one frame (so far), but still… I’ve never used queen excluders, and I don’t want to start, but eggs in the honey super? I’m hopeful that when those eggs hatch, the bees will quickly fill the cells with nectar and drive the brood box back down. If not, I’ll end up pulling that frame out and replacing it with a new frame.
This hive is also doing quite well, and I put the second honey super on it.
Hive 4—Another strong hive. I found frame after frame of eggs and only eggs. I’m not sure why there are so many eggs, but another three weeks, and we’re going to see an ocean of bees coming out of that hive.
This hive is also fully supered now, which is exciting. This is far earlier than last year for being fully supered. To recap, hives 2, 3, and 4 are fully supered. One and 5 are still going strong with just one honey super.
Hive 5—Mackay learned three, maybe four valuable lessons on this hive. In no particular order:
- Bees sometimes build bridge comb. Sometimes bridge comb is sturdy enough to lift a frame from a lower box out when you lift the upper box.
- When a frame is hanging from another frame and held only by the bridge comb, it’s pretty hard to set the box down and fix the problem.
- When you try to set it down and don’t know about the bridge comb, sometimes you knock the frame full of bees free.
- The appropriate phrase to say when you are in that situation is not, “Dave HELP!!!” It’s “AAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
When Mackay first called for help, I had my hands full of another frame and couldn’t get there fast enough. He ended up dropped two full frames of nectar, bees, and brood on the ground. We both immediately set everything down and walked away for a few minutes. When we came back, we poured on the smoke and got to work on cleaning up.
The bees were remarkably calm considering what we’d just put them through. No stings for either of us, which really surprised me. The two dropped frames were intact still, but the ground was littered with lost nurse bees and soaked in lost nectar (sad…). We ended up going through every single frame in Hive 5 to find the queen just in case she had been dropped (she hadn’t).
I hate seeing a frame dropped, and I think we set Hive 5 back a full week or two due to nectar losses and the nurse bees that were lost. We did our best to scoop them up off the ground and bring them home, but I’m sure we still lost at least several hundred bees. I don’t blame Mackay, of course. It’s not exactly something you would expect to happen. I do, however, blame those all plastic frames. For some reason, these frames seem to attract that bridge comb. And since there is very little propolis with these new hives, the bridge comb is enough to lift the frame. It’s unfortunate really, but there you have it.
Aside from that, Hive 5 was doing well.
All in all it was a pleasant Friday with the bees. They were very calm (ridiculously calm). One of those visits were I could have been tempted to go without protective gear. Not even a veil. I’m not quite that fool hardy just yet, but they were that calm.
As I explore more and more what I like and don’t like about beekeeping, the more I realize I’m going to need to change when Mackay finally moves in two years or so. At the very least, I’ll have to find a new assistant.
Oh, and I’m still impressed that Mackay hasn’t been stung, especially after dropping two frames of bees. It is now my primary goal to get him stung at least once this season. 🙂