Sunday, February 27, 2011

Second Inspection

Another warm day, and some more good news... My white queen has been busy and she's now "with brood" like my blue queen.

I estimate that the blue queen, from the "weak" hive (which now feels a bit of a misnomer) has brood on 3 frames.  A nice oval about 6 inches by 4 inches. The white queen (from the "strong" hive) has brood on 2 frames, about the same size.  Given that I missed seeing eggs and larvae last weekend, this is probably a bit of an underestimate of the amount of brood that is actually there! I reckon in a little over a week both queens could be on 5 to 6 frames of brood.  Probably not this weekend, but the one after that.

The pollen patties I put on last week (as well as the ones from 2 weeks ago) are still there, so there must be enough natural pollen in the area to satisfy the bees demands.  I think this is evidenced by the fact there was plenty of new pollen stored in the frames near the brood. So, all in all, I fell pretty confident about my hives at the moment. Maybe my re-configuration last weekend was worth while and it stimulated the queens into laying.

Anyway, if the brood rearing goes as I hope then I'll be looking to add a second hive body to the hives in a couple of weeks. So I think I'll leave the hives alone until then, but once the second body is on I'll feed, feed, feed and hopefully get drawn comb and supers on in double quick time!

This weekend I was lucky enough to get hold of some additional hive equipment.  A complete hive; baseboards, top and inner covers, 2 hive bodies and a super, but no frames. All from my friend Brian, who is interested in keeping bees, but has not been able to commit to it yet. This equipment will buy me some time should I have to divide the hives. But where will I put the hive?  Well, Jurgen (the husband of one of the local school teachers) may have it, but I am exploring other avenues...

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Well a second inspection this weekend has yielded my first sight of brood this year!  In the so called "weak" hive as well!  Perhaps this hive isn't so weak afterall.  Actually the differences between the hives has been interesting to see. 

I opened my "strong" hive to do a bit of reorganization and consolidation today.  I eneded up "reversing" the super and placing this at the bottom of the hive, and leaving the deep with the cluster above it.  The second deep I removed entirely.  I did however move some of the stores about the hive too. The deep with the cluster now contains a lot more stores as well as two empty frames of comb adjacent to the cluster.  I hope now the bees will not have to look too far for supplies and can start to lay brood this week. The pollen patty I added a week ago has been partially eaten but I added another half a patty to keep them going.  I removed the sugar mush as they just don't seem to want this.  I think they have enough honey for the moment and I don't need to worry about them running out.

When I opened the "strong" hive it was very noticeable how many dead bees were lying on the screned bottom board. I couldn't actually see the screen! But they seemed in otherwise good health.  Maybe this was why the top entrance was being so well used.  By comparison there were no dead bees on the bottom of the "weak" hive, so maybe the queen in this one this is actually very hygenic and her workers fastidious! The queens are from difference sources and it is interesting to note that my "weak" queen pulled a nearly collapsed hive through a very nasty SHB infestation.  She's a good 'un I reckon!.

Anyway, I moved a couple of frames of honey from the "strong" hive to the called "weak" hive, just to increase their reserves, but as I said the weak one is fine have now started to raise some brood. The queen must have started laying last week as there is some capped brood now visible.  The pollen coming in from the willow and maple trees may well be giving the bees a little boost towards brood rearing and this may be why the pollen patty on this hive has only been partially eaten. Nevertheless, I added an additional half a patty for good measure. I can always take this off next week, or whenever I manage to get back in again.

Overall the hives look in good shape and I'm happy.  I hope I will be able to make another inspection next week.

Monday, February 14, 2011

First Inspection of 2011

I took my first proper look in the hives yesterday.  I was pleased with what I saw, but also a little perplexed! There are plenty of bees in both hives and I saw one of my Queens, so that's good.  However, there wasn't any brood present.  At the beekeeping workshop held on Saturday there was talk that we should expect to see some brood being reared now.  After some discussions with others, it seems possible that a lack of pollen in the hive (I don't remember seeing any) could be imparing the bee's ability to rear brood.  I raised a therad on the EMBA forum and got some support from a couple of others; I added some pollen patties tonight!

It should be a warm week so it will be interesting to see if the bees take the pollen patties and start to rear brood.  I hope I will see something develop at the weekend.  I probably should have some more patties on hand - better go buy some!

Oh, there are a few pictures on the slideshow opposite this post!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Expanding rectums! What the...

It's been a month (at least) since the last warm day.  And of course it just happened to coincide with the Annual Beekeeper workshop run by EMBA!  The same thing happened last year.  Cold for ages, and when it finally did warm up and we could get into the hives, we were all inside in an all-day meeting!!!

There are clear signs that both hives are alive and well. But my poor girls must have been desperate to go for a wee!  Do they cross all of their legs when they hold on? Still, they all seem to have taken the opportunity to gop on clensing flights today and have also done some housework!

Anyway a lot of cleaning of dead bodies has been going on and this is clearly shown on the backdrop of snow.  I will try and go in to the hives tomorrow to see what I can see.  Maybe I'll feed, maybe I'll rearrange the frames I don't know, but it will make interesting viewing. We learned today that bees have expanding rectums and can hold on for up to 6 weeks!  How useful is that!