Hive Inspection: August 4, 2012

It’s been almost a week since this inspection, but better late than never, right? This was a pretty thorough inspection (but still no photos).

Hive 1

Doing well, but still not much in the way of harvestable honey. We found plenty of eggs and brood, so all is looking well. We haven’t found a queen in quite a while, which is… well, it’s not frustrating or disappointing… it’s… just what has happened.

Anyway… The hive is looking good.

Hive 2

Doing quite well. This is one of the hives we pulled ten frames of honey off of just two weeks ago. They have already started drawing out those frames again and packing them with honey. I do NOT think we’ll get a huge second round of harvesting off those frames, but we should be able to get another five or so.

We found eggs and brood.

Hive 4

Yes, I did skip 3. You’ll see why….

Hive 4 is very similar to 2, though not as much honey. Like 2, I hope to get another five frames or so of honey, though now that I think about it… It is early August. We could very well see quite a bit of honey still to come.

Hives 3 and 5

And now we come back to hive 3 (and 5).

Mackay and I would like to find these two queens and give them a sound beating. At least we’ve found what happened, though. A quick inspection of these two hives showed that the brood nest has basically switched places with the honey/pollen frames. The very bottom brood box in both hives was basically empty of, well, everything. Even wax.

That would help explain why they were so high in the hive for their brood chamber.

So here’s what we did wrong (and yes, this was our fault): We supered WAY too early.

On Monday, Mackay and I went back in to hives 3 and 5 to do a real thorough inspection and to try and figure out a way to push the brood chamber back down. I do have photos of that inspection (not here), and I’ll come back in later and do a photo post.

What we found, however, was the bottom brood box was maybe a third drawn out on only the central frames. In fact, we could have pulled four frames out of each bottom brood box that were completely untouched. We simply supered way too fast.

In the second brood box, we found much of the same. We could have pulled another four frames of completely empty foundation from those boxes as well. The central frames were fully drawn (for the most part) and were basically straight honey.

In the honey supers, we could have pulled the outer frames, but the central frames were much closer to your standard brood box (a good arc of brood, pollen, and honey). Sigh….

So what did we do? Well, we basically inverted the hive.

The hive boxes with brood went to the bottom. Then we put the pollen-honey box (the old second brood boxes) on top of that. Then we put the basically empty deep boxes (the original brood boxes) on the very top. (Hive 3 and 5 each had a slightly different order to how we put the boxes back on).

Do I think it worked? No clue. I’ve resigned myself to getting nothing off of 3 and 5 this year, and Mackay and I are debating how to push this hive down into a smaller space for the coming winter. I’m actually not too bothered by inverting the hive bodies simply because we had already talked about adopting a Warre-style of hive management for next year anyway. This just plays into that nicely, although it does raise some concerns about how to ensure that the brood moves down and the honey goes up.

We’ll check these hives again next weekend and see where they are at, but I’m very open to other suggestions about how to get that brood chamber down lower.

One other issue I noticed in both hives was frames of pollen and only pollen. That was something I saw a lot of in the old hive 2 that died last winter. It’s probably as much psychological as anything, but those heavy frames of pollen did grab my attention.

I’ll keep you posted on how these two hives work out. It’s a problem I’ve never heard anyone talk about before, and I will be the first to admit that this is a self-created problem created by supering too fast from the very first box. By the way, I will also admit that this problem would have been completely avoided if we were using top bar hives. Not saying they are better than Langstroths (they have their place), just that this particular problem wouldn’t have happened.

 

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2 Responses to Hive Inspection: August 4, 2012

  1. Hi Dave,
    Sounds like your hives are doing pretty well … overall. Far better than mine.
    Had any bee stings recently?? 😉
    Roger

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