Hive Inspection: September 8, 2012

I finally downloaded some pictures from our August 6th visit. That’s the first good news. The second goods news is that Hive 4 is looking okay. I’m going to scatter the old photos throughout this post. It’s been so long that I no longer know what is what, but we’ll have fun anyway.

And a great time for a photo.

What? That’s not a bee picture? Well, no… but it is cute. We finally cut his hair, and Courtney really wanted to capture the curls.

How about this one?

Okay, fine… I’ll do bee pictures now.

I’m remembering now…. This was our visit where we debated how to “fix” hive 3 and 5. If you remember, those two hives had brood throughout the hive, and we tried to consolidate it down. Our first idea was to pull all the frames and then put brood frames back into the bottom boxes and honey frames higher. This is where we were after working through the first box.

This is pretty typical of what we were finding in that lowest box. Empty, empty, empty. Our guess is that we supered way too fast and the bees did what the bees do. Move up.

In the end, we decided it was not a good use of our time or the bees time to reorganize the frames, so we put everything back and focused instead on ordering the boxes.

On to the regular report…

Hive 1

Oh how I love this hive. So quiet, so gentle. They were so calm today that we couldn’t hear a thing coming out of this hive. Just a pile o’ bees. They are doing really well and quite full. They are drawing out the top honey super right now and should have most of it capped by harvest date (possibly in two weeks). I think it is safe to say that we’ll get a good 15 frames of capped honey off this hive!

One thing that was surprising was a HUGE wasp attack on hive 1 while we were there. We killed at least two dozen wasps that were aggressively attacking bees in hive 1. At one point there was quite a big pile of bees and wasps fighting on the ground. Mackay and I took the time to dig through the pile, find the wasp in the center, and crush it. 🙂 We could stay out there all day long and day that again and again and again.

Hive 2

Hive 2 was awesome last time and awesome again this time. I feel so good about the size of hive 2 that I honestly think I could split them now and have both survive the winter. I won’t, but I think I could.

Hive 2 is basically full again with honey. There’s a good chance that we’ll add another 15 frames of honey on top of the 10 we got off this hive earlier this year! That would make roughly 5 gallons off this hive alone!

Hive 3

Doing well, but still messy. I’m still debating what to do about getting this brood nest moved down. I’ve debated getting a queen excluder, but I just don’t know…. The frames were cleaning up a bit with the very top box being pretty much straight honey (five frames worth or so), so maybe I do nothing at this point.

Hive 5

Yep, I skipped Hive 4 again.

Hive 5 was much the same as Hive 3, though not nearly as organized. Hive 3 actually looks like it is getting more organized, but hive 5 is still pretty much everywhere.

We’ll figure this hive out at harvest. My goal right now is to get these hives through harvest time and then look at consolidating and fixing these hives. We don’t get truly into winter until October-ish, so we’ve got a month or so still to go.

Hive 4

And now back to 4….

We found eggs. 🙂

I’ve been so worried about this hive because of the lack of brood and drawn comb. This is definitely the smallest of my five hives. I could, and probably should take off the top honey super without affecting the production of this hive. I could probably pull the second box as well. There are 3.5 frames of honey in that box, which we will harvest and possibly give right back to this hive.

We went pretty deep into this hive, and we saw enough to have hope for survival. It’s still a pretty small hive, and I’ve debated pulling a frame of eggs out of Hive 2 or Hive 1 (my two strongest hives) to give them a jolt of bees going into winter, but I’m inclined to let them survive or not.

I think some of the problems with CCD are caused in small part by the continuation of bad genetics. If the hive cannot survive on its own, I think it is fair to consider letting the hive die. Strong hives make for strong bees. Weak hives make for weak bees.

All in all, this was a great visit. Fast, coolish day, with really calm bees.

Next up: HARVEST!!!

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