Hive Inspection, June 21, 2014

I got into my hives yesterday along with Shiloh. It was a hot day, but we had a good time. It’s nice to have a knowledgeable, capable companion to help. After the inspection, we talked for about thirty minutes about some of our dreams. Some of the things we want to see come out of our lives. We both are very attracted to the idea of homesteading and the independent lifestyle. It’s good to dream with people like that. It helps you see how possible it is.

Top Bar

Still no queen and still only four bars built out. There is no brood left in the combs, but I did see about five eggs in the comb. I’m guessing an egg-laying worker, though the eggs were well centered. At this point, I think the hive is lost. I don’t know what else to think of it. And I’m okay with that.

One thought I have right now is to let these bees go as long as they can and then let the hive sit over the winter. The comb will be there in the spring with a new package, and there’s a chance that whatever it is that is driving the bees out will either be gone by then or that the comb will help attract. I guess we’ll see.

Hive 1

Very strong, very big, and very happy. I did find what looked like swarm cells across the bottom of one frame (only one), but there is still lots of brood and eggs. Not sure what is going on here, but this hive is heavy, happy, and strong.

Hive 1.5 (the Nuc)

The nuc hive did not create a new queen. Poop. It’s a pretty small population of bees (I’d guess no more than 1,000) with good honey stores. I added another frame of eggs to see what they do with it from Hive 1. I like the genetics out of Hive 1, and I’m eager to see me get a few more hives with that line (Hive 3 shares that line as well).

Shiloh and I were thinking that if we can get this hive to create a queen, we might pull a queen cell off the frame and stick it into the Top Bar. If they make a few queen cells, I don’t see why not.

Hive 2

This hive is doing really well. They aren’t nearly as strong as Hive 1, which is expected, but they are strong, full, and heavy. A week or so ago, I caught what can only be the hatching of a major batch of brood. It looked like a small blizzard in front of this hive of bees doing orientation flights up and around. Very pretty to watch!

Oh, and this hive is remarkably calm. It’s becoming a favorite.

Hive 3

Also doing well. It took us a while to find any eggs on the frames, but there is a healthy brood pattern and lots of it. We still have quite a few drones coming in from the egg-laying worker, but it is survivable. Shiloh, Joe, and I went through a while back and tried to pull all the drone brood to save their resources, and I’m guessing we missed a bit.

It did lead to a question… Is a drone from an egg-laying worker as high quality as a drone from a queen? On the mating side, you’d certainly want your queen mating with a strong drone, and an egg-laying worker would flood the area with drones. I wondered if there is a difference….

The only other news is that the State Department of Agriculture is apparently doing a study on varroa in our county. They called me up last week and asked if they’d be willing to let one of their team come out and look at my hives, take samples, and do a mite count. Sure…. But I always get a little nervous with situations like this because I have my own way of doing this. I don’t medicate, I don’t feed anything but honey, I don’t do mite boards, and I definitely don’t follow standard practice for supering. Whenever I encounter a fellow beek face to face and talk about it, I inevitably get the looks of “you’re crazy!” Yeah, well… Probably. 🙂

I guess I just go with the idea that there is helping the bees survive and hurting the surviving populations. I have trouble believing that a creature that existed for millions of years without my help suddenly can’t unless I’m there. Then again, even a hundred years ago, bees didn’t have to deal with a lot of what we put them through…. At the end of the day, I feel comfortable with what I do and how I do it, and I have no problem if you do it differently. In fact, I guess I think both have a place. Heck, if your hives produce the drones that give me great queens, more power to you! And vice versa. I certainly hope what my queens produce give you the best drones. At this point, the bees need all the help they can get, medicated or not.

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2 Responses to Hive Inspection, June 21, 2014

  1. Emily Heath says:

    Sounds like the majority of your hives are doing well. Could be hive 1 are superseding their queen if there’s only one queen cell. Hope they don’t swarm on you!

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