Saturday, March 15, 2008

S-Day- And then there were TWO

Split-day kicked off the day the Queen bee from Down Under (Australian Queen) was scheduled to arrive. The bees looked great for having had experienced a two day journey from BRYAN, TX, via HOUSTON, TX, LOUISVILLE, KY, ORLANDO, FL and finally MELBOURNE, FL, in addition to the journey from Australia to B Weaver. Any one wonder what an Australian queen bee and her attendants look like?? How about how are they shipped??

The queens came in their cage, each with their attendants, and stapled to the inside of a UPS envelope. One queen for Mike, and one for myself; it’s a miracle they arrived in such good shape. As soon as the package arrived we dipped our fingers in syrup and smeared some on the screen of the cages. The bees urgently took it. I also supplied some water this way.

There was really no time to stop and take pictures during the split, and I find it silly to go into detail of how a novice splits his hive. Below you see the result of a double screen split. Three deep frames, shook bees from a few others, and one plastic foundation frame in a Nuc sitting above the original hive. All divided by a double screen. I will add a fifth frame after I remove the queen’s cage. The hive below provides environmental control (heat and air circulation) and protection. The Nuc just has to work on establishing a new colony.

Above- Front entrance of main hive. Feeder in entrance, Nuc on top

Things went well ...... I observed the 1st supper of the season been worked on, and I did some minor hive maintenance during the split. There is a lot of room between my lower deep body and the base. It violates the bee space, but when you have lemons just make lemonade. The burr comb in the inch or so of space is used by the bees to build drone cells. So ….. You need an easy way to remove the drone cells to inspect for Varroa?? Maybe all you want to do is use the drone cells to bait the Varroa?? Just violate the bee space and the bees will make a nice trap for those purposes. Above is that entire burr comb that Mike scrapped off of 3 or 4 frames while I held them. Look at all the drone brood.

We inspected 80% of the deep body, and about 20 percent of the medium. Two sets of eyes, very cooperative gentle bees, but we never found the Queen. I’m 99.9% sure that she did not accidentally go in the Nuc. The chances that she is crushed somewhere accidentally in the hive??? Well, that’s always possible and is any ones guess.

Once the Nuc was complete I closed it up for 3 hrs. No worries, remember the hive below provides ventilation. After 3 hrs I gave them a small entrance and a new queen.

Queen ready to be introduce. Candy side up, and 10lb fishing line with a 3 inch nail on the other end.Queen introduced to nuc. Nail with string ensures that cage doesn't fall to the bottom, and nail will keep me from having to stick my fingers deep to pull the cage out in 3 to 4 days.

So far everything looks perfect. The hive below is active as ever. They have 3 new plastic foundation frames to work on, and they are being feed to help with the task. Hopefully the missing drones, the missing food, the missing bees, and the new frames are enough to get rid of any swarm plans. The Nuc lost some of the older bees to drifting once I opened it but guards are posted at its entrance and I have observed some bees come out for either orientation or cleansing flights and then return.

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