Hive Inspection–May 3, 2014

Straight report this time. I had Steve and Angela Decker helping out.

Top Bar

I opened them up, and was really surprised with how small they are. They only had three small bars of comb drawn out. I’d guess each around 6X6 inches. And the population was quite small. I did pull out all bars to look at them, and on the second bar there was a small handful of brood (maybe 100 cells total) and, lo and behold, two queen cells! My guess is that they came in, started working, and swarmed. 😦

My dad has had big issues with swarms as well. He’s had one hive swarm at least three times. He catches the swarm each time, puts them back, and they swarm again. We’re assuming there is something in that hive driving them out.

Back to the top bar… I’m not sure if they are going to survive. They are quite small, and they lost that queen really early. The cells were pretty late stage (I’d guess day 12 or 13), so she’s hatched by now and will start laying in a week, but as small as they were, I’m not sure they are going to be able to defend and maintain the hive that long. I may feed them some honey from last year to try and help them out.

Hive 1

I think the only way to say this is great honk. Hive 1 has historically always been one of my top performers, and this year is no exception. This hive has jumped after the split last month and is looking quite strong and healthy. Very heavy, very full, and very happy. Lot’s of great brood patterns and eggs.

Hive 2

This is one of my new hives, and they are doing quite well. Full and big with excellent brood patterns and eggs. I did see the queen on the very first frame pulled out, and she was gorgeous, big, fast, and black as midnight. Angela got a picture of her, which I’ll have to have her send to my email so I can post it.

Hive 3

And this is where it gets interesting…. This is the split from Hive 1. I gave them a couple frames of eggs so they could create their own queen, and…

… they failed! No queen. No brood. No eggs. Nothing.

The hive was quite large in size and strong, but doomed without eggs or a queen. I was getting ready to put in another from of eggs from Hive 1 to capture those genetics when Steve mentioned that I had two queen cells in the Top Bar.

I cut one of the queen cells out of the top bar and put it into Hive 3. It was interesting to see the bees instantly attracted to it, and I’m glad that they’ll have a queen faster (assuming acceptance).

That’s the first time I’ve ever done any kind of work with queens, and it was pretty cool.

Later I was talking to my dad about our bees. He’s had a lot of trouble this year with his bees. He’s had two hives swarm (his one survivor hive and then the other hive swarmed three different times). He also caught swarms, which is something I’ve never done. As we talked about the issues, he mentioned the idea of having a nuc hive that you intentionally keep weak so that you can steal brood or a queen or honey to give to your big hives when they struggle. That way you only lose your nuc and that small population of bees instead of your big hives.

I have two wooden nuc boxes, and as I thought about it, that makes a lot of sense to me to use one as a queen rearing, brood rearing, emergency honey hive to support my main hives. I’ll have to figure out how to overwinter the hive or be happy with the lose every year, but I’m interested in doing this. I guess I could also double-stack my two nuc boxes and create a double-nuc with 10 deep frames. Maybe that’s a way to get them through the winter. Not sure….

I did realize that having a spare queen last Saturday would have made me so much less nervous about Hive 3 and the Top Bar. I could have just dumped the queen into those hives (in a cage of course) and been on my way.

I’d create the nuc off of Hive 1 to preserve those genetics I think.

Fun stuff! And like I said last time, it’s really nice to do this for me. Not for anyone else. My hobby for my relaxation and pleasure.

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One Response to Hive Inspection–May 3, 2014

  1. angeladecker says:

    Thanks for the reminder to send you pictures. Here they are.

    Thank you,

    Angela Decker

    On Wed, May 7, 2014 at 10:34 AM, the prodigal

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