Last weekend I wanted to do a thorough hive inspection on the five hives and to make sure I really checked the three new hives well.
I stopped by the three new hives as I drove in on Saturday and I was pleased to see that all three hives had active bees congregating around the hive entrances. I was surprised that even the hive that I had overheated seemed to have the largest group of bees going in and out.
Sunday morning was when I planned for the inspections and feeding the new hives. I got up early and made a batch of syrup so that it would be cooled by the time I was ready to inspect the hives.
I suited up, got the smoker going and went to inspect the two older hives first. I inspected the new hive that came from last summer’s split. It was much the same that I last inspected: a fair amount of brood and honey in the upper deep, some brood and honey in the lower deep. The two shallows that I had added really seemed to have no progress; no honey stored and the comb has not been built up on the newer frames. I cleaned out the hive beetle traps and was happy to see no evidence of hive beetles. There was a good population of bees, but the lack of progress on honey had me wondering if this hive had been responsible for the swarm that I had captured.
I next smoked and opened the older of the two hives. I no sooner got the top off than I saw that the bees had totally filled the upper shallow with honey, all the frames were full and capped. I lifted off the top shallow and saw that the bottom shallow was exactly the same, overflowing with honey. I decided there was really no point of inspecting the hive for brood etc. The hive was doing as well as it had last year. I took one of the shallows off of the other hive and added it so the bees would have room to continue the honey work and have room (I understand a “full” hive leads to swarming). I didn’t see any evidence of hive beetles and I didn’t clean the traps given that I didn’t do the full inspection.
The weather has been ideal this spring. We have had plenty of moisture, but not too much and it has not gotten hot and dry to slow the blooming. You can see here the clover patch that we have left un-mowed is still blooming away. We regularly see the bees gathering nectar and pollen there. I am hopeful that we can get even more honey this season!
I got the syrup loaded into the Polaris and headed to the new hives. Again there were lots of bees coming and going. I opened the overheated hive first; I had been a bit worried that maybe the hive was being robbed by the other two hives. That might have been the reason why there were more bees at the entrance. However inside, I saw that they had been doing a good job of storing honey and pollen. I inspected for brood and didn’t see any sealed brood chambers, I tried looking for eggs but I am not sure I saw any.
I inspected the second hive that came from the nucs I had bought. It looked much the same as the first hive, honey and pollen being stored, but no sealed brood. This left me worried that maybe the queens have gone from both of the new hives . There was not the disturbed buzzing, so I don’t know. I will be re-inspecting these hives this weekend and make a determination of whether I call Busy Bee Apriaries to see about queens.
I opened the third hive, the one where I captured the swarm. The frames had only been foundation, no comb when I set it up. The bees in this hive have gone to town. There were 5-6 frames that had been built up with comb. There was plenty of honey and pollen stored and lots of capped brood. As I write this I wonder if I should have just ordered the queens last week before I left to travel. Hmmm. I feed all three hives and closed them up.
One thing that was surprising about all three new hives was the presence of hive beetles. I had followed my friend’s advice and set them up in the field away from the woods. This lead me to order some hive beetle traps from Busy Mountain Bee.
I also realized that I was probably going to need second deeps for the three new hives. I have frames and new foundation for three more deeps as well as one deep. I ordered two more deeps from Miller Bee Supply. I am thinking I may need to build out more shallows as well, so that may be a future order. Will probably be putting deeps and frames/foundation together this weekend.
So, still worried about the queen situation but we will have honey again this year!!!
PS I wrote this on the plane back Friday night and didn’t have a chance to post before going to the farm. Yesterday, I inspected and fed the three new hives. The situation is exactly as it was: the swarm hive doing well and the two new hives are definitely queen-less . I called Busy Bee Apriary and they are closed today. Will be calling tomorrow from the layover in Houston. I really hope I can pick up two on Friday when I am back in town. I added a second deep to the swarm hive and put hive beetle traps in all deeps.
PPS When I got home from the farm, I got a call from my college roommate. He was having a swarm trying to enter the wall of his home through the wood shingle siding. Guess they thought it looked like a nice hollow tree. Unfortunately the best I have been able to do is to point him at some people who might be able to capture the swarm, if the queen hasn’t yet made it into the house wall. This makes me think that I should invest in some swarm traps and lure…