Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cracking on...

It's nearly April, the clocks "sprung forward" last weekend, so what happens?  5" of snow fell yesterday!!! And it's quite cold, above freezing as I write this, but only just.

As I put full division board feeders on the hives last weekend (for the first time this season), I thought I really should get in and top them up this weekend.  The weather wasn't great in the week, so today (Sunday) was the only chance I have had to look in for a week.  It was cold, but warm enough in the sunshine, and there was no wind.  No bees were flying.

I opened up the hives and both had a healthy number of bees. I was told of a trick in the week.  If you open up the hive, wait 30 seconds, but add no smoke, a 'ring' of bees should appear on the top of the frames and this will tell you the size of the cluster.  My girls are on about 5 or 6 of the 9 frames in the top deep.  Nice! They were also very calm about me opening the hive.

So how much feed had they consumed?  This week as I said has seen some been poor weather - cold and wet - and so it was not good conditions for foraging, flying and collecting pollen, and sure enough, the syrup I added last week was pretty much gone. I had to fill feeders in both hives which is about 3.7 litres (OK a US gallon).  The hives are certainly cracking on now, and with a couple of weeks before the queens arrive this is good news.  I will definitely have to inspect the hive during the week to see how quickly the syrup is being eaten.  They could be going through a gallon in just 3 or 4 days!

My nucs are being painted and will be ready to receive brood.  Anyone interested?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Well I may have been on a break but...

We spent the weekend in Memphis taking in the sites and sounds enjoying and relaxing(ish)!  It was lovely and warm when we got home this afternoon and so a hive inspection was calling.  It had been a week since the last inspection and I was keen to see what had been going on.

Of course, unlike me, my girls had been hard at work and in the 'Blue' hive they had started to build comb above the frames in the space created by the hive shim over the patties. On closer inspection I found eggs had been laid in this comb! So it seems that my queen is getting impatient for space. Although there is probably brood on 4 frames I still decided to remove the last of the patties from the top of the frames and add a second deep, along with a division board feeder and some 1:1 syrup.  And in order to encourage rapid brood rearing, I moved two frames of brood from the bottom deep into the new top deep.

In the second, 'White', hive the bees have also been busy - OK, there's no egg-filled comb above the frames this time, so I got to wondering how much of a 'distraction' [to the business of brood rearing that is] the super under the deep had become? Although there is probably a similar quantity of brood in this hive as in the 'Blue' hive - no question, the super had to go! This is now sitting between the hives, on top of a bee escape and tomorrow I'll take it away and store it in the basement. I added a second deep and feed, but unlike the 'Blue' hive I didn't move any brood from the nest up into the top deep. I felt the brood nest just wasn't as strong although I did want to stimulate some brood rearing

Maybe I should have waited for more brood to be reared on the frames before installing a second deep?  I don't know. It will be interesting to see where the development will be in a week or so.  My aim is to be in a position to put supers on in about 3 or 4 weeks and I feel comfortable with moving a second deep on at this stage.

I'll check mid-week to see how much feed has been consumed, and how much new brood has been laid in the top deep.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Developing Nicely!

Brood rearing is coming on nicely in both hives - well both hives are at about the same stage of development; there is brood on 3 frames in each hive.  Well done girls!  So I have to ask what is everyone else experiencing at the moment? Anyway there is plenty of capped and uncapped brood in the hive.  I didn't look for eggs as I didn't figure that was all that important in light of there being lots of larvae present.  A month ago there was no brood in the hives at all!

My hope is that in a week (or maybe two) I will be able to add a second deep to the hive.  The trigger will be when I have about 5 to 6 frames of brood in each of the bottom boxes.  Fingers crossed for a period of nice warm weather.

The pollen patties I have been adding have been taken lightly. By this I mean that some is being eaten, but not much.  This is OK I think as there is a pile of pollen being brought in from outside and there is still quite a lot of honey in the hives.  I just think the bees prefer their food fresh and not 'tinned'!!!

All looks nicely poised for the spring.  I have two queens on order for the 9th April.  If the hives are not looking like there is sufficient brood in them to make nucs then I'm not sure what I will do - I hope someone will want a couple of queens!!!