Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hive Inspection Sept 30, '09

After my bees had absconded, Kirk got me some more bees four weeks ago. At the time he mentioned they were "twitchy." That is one word for it. We are currently in a dearth in So. California. There is some nectar and pollen out there but not an abundance of it. I do not have any honey to feed them so the choice is syrup made from cane sugar and water 1:1 ratio. Brown sugar, organic sugar and beet sugar are not recommended, it must be cane sugar.

I had gone out and left them a quart bag of syrup a couple times. Once they got into the habit of eating the syrup, the bees emptied the qt baggie in a day or so. I was going out there and bothering them too often in my judgment. With the qt baggie I was in and out rather quickly but I wanted to move up to the gallon size so I would not bother them every two days. The bees had been okay with a little smoke and I got cocky. I took the gal baggie out with no protection, shorts and sandals. The bees on top of the frames did not seem bothered at all. I had not perfected my bag slicing technique and was there too long. As soon as the old bag removal made noise the guard bees came out of the front of the hive to do their job. I got a sting on the end of my pinkie finger, dropped the scissors and the bees were dive bombing me. I retreated, went into the bee (laundry) room suited up and went back out. This was to be a quick visit so no smoke. I tried to cut the baggie with some small scissors but could not get my leather bee glove fingers into the scissors so I took the gloves off. This was still to be a quick visit. Bare flesh on one hand, the bees know what to do. I got five more stings on the same hand and beat another retreat. I closed the hive and let the bees alone for a while. An hour later I found my rubber kitchen gloves and went back out. This time I got the baggie properly installed with slits but there were still bees flying around and talking to me. They were rather protective but no, not killer bees, just protective, or twitchy as Kirk calls it. The hand became quite swollen but no pain after the first hour. It was awkward bending my fingers but there was no arthritis pain in my knuckles.

I was out of town last weekend and the weather was very hot so I went in for an inspection today. These bees have been in place for four weeks and this would be the first full hive check.
I may be a novice but I learn. This time I got fully suited and then smoked the hive before opening it up. I left them alone for while and put my tools out on the table by the hive. It is much easier that way then digging into your pockets or looking around the ground and trying to not step on tools.

This hive had 5 frames of brood from the nuc and five empty frames when I added the bees. After a bit more smoke this is what I found inside.

The first frame was empty but they had made comb on #2 and there was some honey.

The next five frames , all from the original nuc, were swarming with bees hard at work.

Plenty of brood but I need better eyes to see the eggs.

I looked on all sides and did not see the queen. She has been hard at work and there were plenty of larvae so I am confident she is there.

This is one of the "empty" frames from the other side of the hive. They have been busy making comb and adding stores on this side of the hive too. . There were two more empty frames past this point, so five frames of brood and honey being added to the outside of in two of them. There were some drone cells but not many. As I understand it that is normal for this time of the year. Our local dearth should end in Nov-Dec but we have an El Nino year predicted. That can mean lots of rain. I will be adding more syrup for a while yet ( with gloves and a smoker,).

The hive looks healthy and is growing with no obvious problems. One of the times I next add the syrup I will scrap off the propolis they add under the baggie. I had an another super with waxed starter strips ready to add but with three empty frames it is too soon for that. It would make too much empty space for them to protect along with the lower hive box. A couple days ago I went out and found a lot of activity around the porch area. There were a lot of bees flying around and this was hours before their normal orientation flights. I have added an entrance reducer in case this was robbing going on..

If you visit the Backwards Beekeepers one of the last photos is Kirk showing a young lady how to make wax strips for new frames. He does it by painting wax on a clean board of the proper size. When he adds propolis to the melting wax, it become bendable instead of hard and fragile. That makes it much easier to install the strips of wax and paint stir sticks are no longer needed.
Collect the propolis, it can come in handy.

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