Sunday, October 14, 2007

What a Mess

Unfortunately, I lost the best pictures of my inspection. I knew the memory stick in the digital camera was acting up. I made a point of getting a new one, but I didn't use it. I just didn’t want to give up on the old one. I'll have to explain what I observed this weekend. First, I noticed a lot of idleness from the hive.

I don’t know if the bees prefer green, or if the bees were fooled by the kids painted flowers. I came out at 10AM to inspect the hive and this is what I saw. It sort of proves my point about the hive being too idle.

I pried off my new wooden home made top cover. If it has any draw backs, I would say it is it’s weight. It may just be that I'm use to the Beemax heavy as a feather components.

Looking down into my medium supper, I started to realize why the hive is idle. The hive is, I believe, honeybound (Full of Honey). The top medium super has alternating plastic frames with plastic foundation, and wooden frames with a small wooden starter guide. The bees worked their way up drawing comb on the middle plastic frame. Then jumped out to the adjacent wooden frames, and drew out their own natural size honey combs. The natural comb was violating the ever so critical bee space. In other words, the combs on the wooden frames are big, so big that the adjacent plastic frames were too close to build comb on them. So with the supper 80% full, technically there was no space to store anything else.
I did some quick thinking, and recalled reading beekeepers sometimes space their supper frames out to fit just nine. So my solution was to remove the outer most wooden frame that had not been worked on yet. Leave the supper with just 9 frames and then spread the remaining frames so the bees can utilize both sides of the remaining frames. I decided that a picture is worth a thousand words. (see graphic explanation) My next inspection should reveal even more honey, and a heavier supper. My plan in two weeks is to simply remove the supper (nothing but honey by then) by pass it and do an inspection of the hive body. Today's lessons are: Fact 1 - with no cell guide (plastic foundation), bees will draw out a cell size they seem fit for the job. Fact 2 - Natural Honey storage cells are larger. Conclusion : plastic or not, foundation or foundationless, bees will draw anything out. Mixing frames types may not be such a hot idea.

Compare this picture to the first one in the post. The increase in space reflects the increase in activity. Notice that more bees seem to have gone out to work this morning. More honey stores give the colony a better chance to make it to spring with minimal intervention from the beekeeper.

I'm still puzzle at the lack of activity out of the top entrance. I see maybe one bee per minute coming and going from it.

Found this spider not too far from the hive, very cool looking Black and Yellow Argiope female

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