Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bee Winter Ends, Bee Spring Begins

There is a small cold front in the area, but the daytime highs are in the mid 60’s. I have been feeding 16 ounces of 1:1 sugar water for a week to last years NUCs, almost 16 ounces every two days. Here is the bee yard as of today. Although the hives don’t need to be feed any more, I might as well use up the last remaining ¼ gallon instead of letting it go to waste.
From left to right: Empty NUC with 5 top bars and a wax started strip. Just in case a colony would like to move in to the neighborhood. Next to it is my original hive, “Old Faithful. It is one deep and 2 medium suppers. To the right my eager NUC; these ladies just went into this ten frame box with a ten frame supper last week. Finally on the right my last NUC form last year.

I like plastic frames because they don't warp with the Florida humidity but I like natural comb. Last year I had this idea about converting the plastic frames into plastic frames with starter strips. The picture below shows the unmodified plastic frame (top), and the hollowed out frame (below). I believe this configuration is the best to prevent the bottom of the frame from sagging.
I finally get to see my experiment at work. This is frame number 9 in the hive to the right. It appears the bee's began drawing out at the end of the strip.
This is Frame 8; they filled in the whole area I cut out with natural comb.
Flip side of frame 7, and close ups below.
Flip side of frame 7; they began to draw comb connecting both cutout sections.
Flip side of frame 7; they began to draw comb out above the cut out.
Flip side of frame 7; less than four days ago the queen expanded the brood next to the frame.
Now on to my Eager Colony… below is a frame out of their supper. I moved these guys into their new 10 frame home just last Friday. Last week the supper had 3 drawn out frames and 7 frames with one inch starter strips. Today the supper has seven frames that look like this. Since I just moved them last week, I didn’t want to inspect any deeper. The main purpose for opening this hive was to replace the top with a more permanent one.
Finally, “Old Faithfull”, now has two suppers and is currently configured as what some people call a 1.5 hive. One standard deep 10 frames hive body and one medium 10 frame supper/brood. The colony expands the brood into the first supper when in need for supplementary laying space. Below is the bottom of one of the outside supper frames. It is honey from top to bottom.
Below is a supper frame that sits above the brood next. Notice how the bottom edge is being used by the queen to lay eggs.
Here is a close up of the same frame showing capped and uncapped brood.
The new supper should provide plenty of room, but I have to keep a close eye on this one. They should be ready to swarm by the end of March if not sooner. Things look great in all the hives, except for the small hive beetles. The bees have them under control and keep them cornered, but I never seen so many Small hive Beetles in my colonies before. Below is a picture of the beetles that were trapped in my 3 inspection drawers for this week. I used a piece of window screen to pour out the oil and trap everything else. A close inspection revealed Small Hive beetles, 1 Small hive beetle larva, wax caps and pollen.

Since I didn’t want to waste some good protein, I took the screen out by the chicken coop. Oily Small hive beetles are a colossal treat for the chickens and they absolutely don’t let any go to waste.

1 comment:

Jim Stovall said...

These are wonderful pictures. Thanks very much for sharing them.

I have linked this page on, my compilation site for beekeeping news.

Good luck with your hives.


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