Bees

Cleaned comb and a new queen

A few days ago I put a tray with oil and a screen over it underneath hive 1. I didn’t see any mites, but I’d need some better light to be sure. I did see a discarded larvae in the screen though. That means there is a laying queen in the hive. Based on that and the straight comb I decided not to do a full inspection. I also did a quick inspection on hive 2 just to remove the pan I left the fallen comb in. The bees had completely cleared out the comb and began attaching the comb to the pan. This colony is a honey making machine. They relocated the honey from the fallen comb and have built out better than half a new comb in under a week.

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July CABA meeting

The July meeting for the CABA was interesting. There was a request for volunteers for the honey harvest at the club apiary this weekend. The plan is to harvest Friday and extract Saturday. I couldn’t volunteer since we have family in town. There was a round table discussion with Bobby, David, and two researchers from the Baton Rouge bee lab to answer questions. The discussion was mainly centered on IPM and other means of pest management. We focused on varroa control with lots of talk about burning small hive beetles. Controlling varroa by using Hopguard was recommended by Bobby. I have never used it personally and would hesitate to do so unless there was a large population of mites in one of my hives. One of the things the geneticist and Chris Frink discussed was the use of a screened bottom board with a pan of oil beneath it. This allows the mites to fall through and die in the oil, but does not allow the bees access. I have read about this before and actually purchased a long shallow pan to place under my top bar hive. I haven’t implemented it yet primarily due to laziness. I’ll have to get it set up to see if there are many mites in either of my colonies. David’s recommendations included resistant strains such as the carniolans. They slow down brood production with the dearth which disrupts the varroa laying cycle. The use of diatomaceous earth under and around hives caused quite a stir. This is something I have read about, but never experimented with. This is allegedly effective against small hive beetle larvae as well, so it may be worth looking into. Quicklime and the use of essential oils were also briefly discussed. I forget who brought it up, but someone mentioned a pretty good site on beekeeping http://scientificbeekeeping.com/. It looks to have a bunch of good information on pest management for hobbyists as well as commercial beekeepers.


Comb collapse

I did a thorough inspection on hive #2 through the 8th comb. The last comb I dropped in place the last inspection is already being filled with nectar. I read a comment about adding space in the brood area as opposed to adding space to the rear of the hive. This makes sense because it give the bees the opportunity to increase or decrease the size of the brood area as they see fit. Because of this I added a blank comb in spot 8. The bar in space 7 has a little capped honey on top of partially hatched brood. Everything was going well until I went to close the hive and noticed the last comb in the hive had collapsed. It was wider than the bar by a good bit and curved with the center towards the front and sides towards the back. I picked up all the comb, placed it in the pan, moved the follower forward to the next comb and left the pan in the hive behind the follower. Based on some information on the forums the bees will clean up the comb. I am curious to see how well they will clean it up. I’ll check on the process tomorrow since you can see the pan through the window.

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Quick video of hive #2

I took a video of the Italian hive this evening after a quick inspection. They are building comb very rapidly and building very thick comb. I’ll have to do more frequent inspections than anticipated to be sure they stay on track. The Russian hive #1 is doing extremely well. They are building straight comb, storing loads of nectar, and based on the amount of capped brood there will be a population boom in less than a week.


Hive #2 is laying

I did a quick inspection on hive #2 and saw eggs. This means the queen has been accepted and is laying. I was going to give them another jar of sugar syrup but I see they are storing it so I’m taking that as a sign that they don’t need it. This is probably in some part due to the three combs I gave them that we’re already drawn out. You can see the eggs in the picture below.
We checked hive#1 to be sure the queen was released and sure enough she was. I decided to leave them be for another week instead of disrupting the brood nest further. You can see a quick video below.

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Russian queen installation

The new Russian queen arrived and I introduced her to hive #1 Thursday after work. The bees were very gentle, which I hope means they will accept her OK. I’ll check Saturday or Sunday to be sure she was released from her cage.
Hive #2 is almost out of sugar syrup but seems happy otherwise. I’ll check for eggs this weekend.


Queen on the way

After many emails and a handful of phone calls Monday, I was able to find Charlie Harper of http://www.russianbreeder.com/ Thanks to him I have a new Russian queen arriving tomorrow! I am excited that it is a different type of bee than what I am used to, but I sure hope they accept her OK since it has been at least a week now since the last bit of brood hatched. I had high hopes for this hive being in its second year with such an increase in the early spring. Hopefully they will build up nicely and share some of their honey.
Hive #2 is doing very well. I’ll need to fill the sugar syrup tomorrow. They seem to be taking it much slower than I remember my package from last year. I think that is mostly due to the three drawn combs that I gave them to start. I did verify the queen was released on Monday when I pulled the cage. I was also able to see they had drawn about a 6 inch round of comb off one of the blank bars I gave them.
Stay tuned for coverage of the queen installation!


Hive #2!

Ed Bordelon with Avoyelles honey company was kind enough to replace the package I lost after finding the queen was dead. Jimmy with CABA met me at the LA department of agriculture at 10 Saturday morning with a new package. We went straight home and inspected hive #1 looking for an open comb of brood to give to the new package to help with staying in the hive. This is when I found that there was no brood, eggs or anything. Obviously this meant no queen either. I had no choice but to continue with the package install. The new install went very smooth. Less than five minutes for the whole event. Placing the queen cage on the bottom screen has had an interesting side effect. Saturday evening and Sunday I could see that the bees had clustered around her. There are bees clustered underneath the hive where the cage is. Around 5:00 today I noticed this cluster was a good bit smaller. By 7:00 pm it was non-existent. I can only assume this means they have freed the queen. I’ll do a complete inspection tomorrow to confirm this.
Hive #1 is hot! These bees have no queen and they are pissed off. They were not pleased with us turning the compost pile. We were working in the garden this weekend and on 5 separate occasions had a single bee buzz our head until we were far enough away that they left us alone. In most cases that was 50+ feet or inside.  I have a few emails out to people and will call every number I can find Monday to get a new queen this week.
I have a quick video of the package install below.


Package woes

The CABA package order came in Saturday morning and I picked up my package and one for a friend. I didn’t get video of the dumping but I have one of closing up the hive and immediately after with the bees buzzing around the hive. The install went smoothly. The bees were very calm and my friend only got one sting (up the shorts!) my install that I did when I got home from helping him did not go so well. I found the queen dead in her cage after dumping the bees. I closed up the hive, but could tell something wasn’t right. I saw a bunch of bees outside my original hive. The bees were also more aggressive than what I am used to. They were hitting us in the head 50 feet away from the hive. I checked again after about 3 hours and there were effectively no bees in the new hive. They had all drifted to the original hive. In retrospect I should have checked the queens status before dumping the package. If I had done that I could have picked up a replacement queen today and most likely been successful. Alternatively I could have given the package a comb of open brood as suggested by a CABA member. This would have given them reason to stay. Live and learn I suppose. I am lucky enough to be getting a replacement package from our supplier (Avoyelles Honey Co) next weekend. I’ll be sure to put a comb with open brood in the new hive to help them along and encourage them to stay put. I’ll video the install as well.


First bee inspection of 2012

We finally got into the hive to check everything out. All looks OK. We actually saw the queen! They were not so happy to see us though. Both of us were stung. Luckily we had on sleeves, gloves, and of course gloves. It would have been much worse without protection. I think I found swarm cells on one of the brood combs, but I’m just not sure.

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