Thursday, September 26, 2013

United Way

I was asked at the office if I could put a honey basket together for the United Way of Greater St Louis fund raiser.  Here's my small offering...

Monday, September 23, 2013


I went to the hives yesterday to release the new Queens and I got a bit of a surprise...

The new Queen in first hive I opened at home had been killed in her cage.  No messing about!  Queen and attendants all killed.  The residents were clearly unhappy with my proposed coups d'etat!  But why?  I took a look through the hive and sure enough I found some young larvae present, but not what I would call a lot, but young enough and sufficient enough I supposed for there to be a queen already present.  And sure enough I found her.  Clearly alive and kicking and in control enough for the workers to dispatch the new Queen.  Bit of a waste that! Not much dense brood in the hive though.

In the second of my hives at home the new Queen was still alive in her cage along with her attendants.  Much more promising!  There wasn't any candy plug on the end of the cage so I just popped the cork and encouraged the Queen to leave, which of course she didn't! So I lifted the mesh from the top of the cage and let her crawl out, which she did, right onto the top of a frame where she sat around and allowed the workers to attend to her.  All good so far!  Just to make sure she didn't get it in her head to fly off I moved a couple of frames apart and sure enough she thought yep, now it's time to head down into the hive.  All very controlled and very calm.  Good Girl!

Down at the Botanical Gardens it was the same situation as the first hive.  The residents didn't want me foisting a newcomer, with no right to succession, on them so they snuffed her out as well.  Again I saw the resident Queen.  She looked a little thin so she might be new and for the life of me I was totally convinced I saw a second new Queen in the hive on the same frame.  I know this can happen in a hive, with an unmated queens (that aren't giving off pheromone) and it is possible they were unmated but I reckon I was just imagining things.  Anyway I let this resident Queen get on with things.

So what's going on?  And can (or indeed should) I do something about it.  Well, to answer the second thing first; can/should I? I think it would be very difficult for me to locate another new queen right now form a breeder so I might as well go with what I have, even if the laying pattern is suspect.  Perhaps in the spring if there isn't any improvement (and if the bees make it that far) I'll make splits or get new Queens.  That said, I think there is enough in the way of stores in the hives, or there will be by the time the bees stop foraging for the bees to get through OK.  I just hope the Queens have good enough, warm enough, weather to let them lay prolifically and produce bees for the winter.

But why the relatively poor brood pattern?  Well I think it may well be down to the after effects of thee MAQS treatment.  It wasn't long after I completed this treatment that I looked into the hive and decided that maybe a new Queen was needed.  But I think the resident Queen was there all along, just not laying.  Maybe she was knocked back by the treatment? I have heard this can happen and I think this probably best fits what I saw.

Overall the good news at the official start to Fall is that I have 8 hives all with Queens and all with good levels of stores in them.  At least good enough for me not to worry about any feeding for another couple of weeks.  I'll go around and check the hives in early October and see if I need to put anything on. But the way things look the hives look well set as they are.  There are SHB about (aren't there always?) and I will pop a trap or two in the hives as I check them next time.  I saw more beetles this last weekend than I have all summer long!.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Queens

Well that didn't take long! A couple of calls and a check of the club forum and what do you know, I find three new Queens.

I think I got lucky as Dave Faust was closing up his hives for the winter and by good fortune had four queens available. So I nabbed three!

I raced around this evening installing them; tomorrow is supposed to be stormy and as tonight was hot clear and dry I thought it too good to pass over. The garden bees were nevertheless a bit irritated!

I'll go around on Sunday and check them and then release them. Hopefully they'll lay well before winter sets in and come through it strong!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lost Queens!

I thought things were going well but I've just finished going through my hives and I found that I have lost queens in three of them; once again after treating with MAQS. I'm more than convinced this isn't coincidental!

Both my home hives have few bees and very little brood in them. I'm in a similar situation at the Gardens. The only curiosity us the mature hive in Ladue. 

This had MAQS treatment and afterwards a high residual mite count and quite a few SHB larvae crawling on the sticky board. I went in today to find a pretty healthy hive, I saw the queen and she's laying to a good brood pattern. I think the SHB may be hiding under the screen bottom board and above the sticky board; there weren't many, if any, SHB in the hive that I could see. I put another sticky board tonight just in case the count was weird. I'll pull this on Friday.

So now I need to find queens! I hope I'm not too late!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Last Treatment of the Year?

Well, at least I hope it is!

With the final harvest complete it made sense, given the cooler weather that is forecast, to get into the three hives that needed further mite treatment i.e. the two in the backyard at home and the hive in Ladue.  I didn't go through the hives very thoroughly today but I did go through the top boxes to make sure I saw what I wanted to and to install some MAQS between the top and bottom deeps.

All three hives look in pretty good shape.  There is some solid capped brood in each hive and plenty of young larvae present.  I'm also very happy with the quantity of honey stores that are already in these hives; several frames in the top boxes are already full!  I'll leave the hives for a week before I remove the treatment and I hope (I really hope) that temperatures remain low and that the treatment doesn't effect the brood and Queens like it did last year.  Next week I'll take a closer look at the nests and stores present and maybe even take a look at what is going on in the lower hive boxes.

I figure that if there turns out to be a need to feed I will still be able to feed syrup into October.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Completed Harvest!

At last the harvest is complete (I think...).

It's been the best year I have had to date.  My five hives produced a total of about 240kgs (530lbs) of honey (an average of over 100lbs per hive) which I think is really good! As a point of reference the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association did a survey last year and the average per hive in 2012 was in the order of 30 pounds - so well done girls!

Here is the latest update of my harvesting and mite count summary...

It's still too hot to go through the hives or to put any treatment on them so that will have to wait for a bit. Hopefully tomorrow will be cooler. So my focus will now be to bottle as mush as I can...