Sunday, February 13, 2011

An Early Peek in Feburary

The massive two hive apiary,
Home of the Twitchy Bees, the subject of this hive inspection

Before I start anything I put the lit smoker in front of the hive while I get everything ready.  The bees react to the smoke but the workers keep coming in.
The main reason for checking the hive is this one has always been very active and I want to add another super if it is needed.   The hive is four medium supers tall since I added one last June.    This is the only comb in #4 super, I moved it up in June and there has been no further expansion.  Looks like I do not need another super yet.  I may have to rename this hive to the Propolis Hive.  They produce an incredible amount of propolis and it is very hard to get the hive cover off.  Even though the bees are no using this super yet, the first frame was sealed in so tight that it came apart when I tried to take it out.  I put it back in and it should be fine when the comb glues it together.

These shots are of the honey in #3 super.
This one appears to have a swam cell but there is no brood here, must be burr comb.

#3 is full of honey. the two empty frames I swapped in during the Summer are still empty but the rest are full of comb and much honey.   Most of it must be from last year and what I left for the bees over the Winter.    Now if they will only move up and add some there.
The last frame has its own peculiar design issues.
This is super #2 and all of the frames seem to have comb connections between the frames.  It is a mess.  I tried to cut the the #1 & #2 frames apart but all I did was annoy the bees.  I could not remove one without the other so I moved on to other frames. 
I was able to remove frame #9 which had very little comb in it.  I had to get this one out, it was the last frame in the hive.  The starter strip had fallen down.   I put this in a bucket and replaced it  a clean frame.   I should have put this one back in but I forgot so I cut the comb off and laid the empty frame on the hive so the bees can clean it up and get the honey.
This is a deep as I went into the hive.  When I was in super #3 and #4 the bees were nice.  Things changed when I moved into #2 and removed the wayward comb.  Smoke helped but not much.  My Brushy Mountain suit worked perfectly.  The  consensus is that hive is thriving and the queen is probably fine.  Without help I was not going any deeper to search for her.  The bees have always been active and still are.  
I went out later for a cursory look at the other hive but the Twitchy guard bees told me to back off.
I elected to do that.  These bees are fine when I start but the attitude changes when I get into #1 & #2 supers. 
The Playa Vista hive is much calmer and I had glanced at the top super on it a week ago and it is not close to being full yet.  
I did set up my Flip camera as I was doing the inspection but I did not plan well.  90% of the time you are getting shots of my butt as I work on the hive.  %5 of the time I am getting the still camera and taking shots.  100% of the time the camera is aimed too high.  Good little camera but this was an operator error.  
We are getting more and longer warm spells now.  I expect to be in for another inspection in April.  See you then. 

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