Sunday, March 15, 2009

High Bee Unemployment

Sorry, I couldn’t help the pun associated to our current economy. I have been worrying all week about the high number of bees that have been bearding on Old Faithfull. Bearding is normal for a strong hive right before sunset as all the field bees' return for the day, but not normal at 10 in the morning. I have been worried that the hive is getting ready to swarm. I decided to do a thorough inspection on all the hives. I decided I was going to be equipped for anything and everything. Supers fully drawn out, swarm cells, and overcrowded hives.

I prepared two medium supers. I hollowed out the plastic frames, and had the bright idea of using the cut out plastic as starter strips in the wooden frames.

Here are the two supers. One has 10 hollowed out plastic frames, and one has wooden frames and plastic starter strips. I was prepared to use unpainted supers if the situation called for it.
Here is the whole array of tools I prepared. A Nuc to put frames with swarm cells to create an artificial swam. You take the frames with the queen cells and give them a frame of honey and pollen, shake some bees, feed it and close it for a few hrs. Some bees will return to the original hive, but enough should stay with the new Nuc. There are also two suppers with 10 frames a piece in case all the suppers were drawn out, a spray bottle with sugar water to spray the bees to keep the number of bees flying around down, saw horses to place supers off the ground, and my camera and hive tool.
I began inspecting with the hive in the middle, my Eager hive. I had a little incident while removing the super. One of the deep frames came up with the super as I was lifting it away. Then it cut loose half way out and landed on top of the hive. No major harm done except for all the mad bees in that frame were now flying around. I quickly sprayed them down and placed the supper back on. From what I saw of the brood frame that fell out, there was a good laying pattern. The bottom deep body is about 80% drawn out and the super is about 75% drawn out. I took the pictures below before closing the hive back up. I’m not too concerned about this hive swarming this year. Here is one of the newly drawn out empty super frames. Notice the nice white color of the wax.
Below is a frame out of the same super from my Eager hive, but this one they have begun to fill and the top has already been capped.
Next up for inspection to the right is Old Faithfull, this is the hive that began it all and has been here from day one. The small hive Beetle was surprisingly a little bad between the 1st and 2nd super. The top super has not been drawn out at all but there are tons of bees prepping the starter strips. Below is a picture of the top of the 1st super, the one adjacent to the deep brood box. The middle frames are partially now part of the brood that has expanded up into the supper, technically making the hive a 1.5 hive. Before the end of the summer the hive will move back down, and I can rob the honey from these frames.
Here is a picture of Old Faithfull with all of its supers removed, and the outer most frame out. Once one of outer most frames is removed, the other frames can slide out to allow for easier removal and inspection of the brood nest.
Below is your typical frame out of the brood nest. This is frame number four, plenty of capped brood for the most part, a few uncapped, and pollen stores. The pollen stores are surprisingly in the middle on both faces of the frame splitting the brood up. I have never noticed such a pattern before.
Finally all the way to the left, the Moody hive. These guys definitely need an attitude adjustment. There is no need to go deep into this hive. They have plenty of room to grow, especially now that I placed a super on, but their day is coming. The new queens should be here at the end of this month.
Mmmmmm, bee unemployment seems to have gotten worse in Old Faithfull after my inspection. I prepared for everything but encountered nothing. Not sure if that is good or bad. Swarm season is here and I get the feeling these guys are going to want to go.

At least my Moody hive is allowing me to sit at my bench with out harassing me. I have no clue how I’m going to find the queens among all those bees. Up the sting count, someone got me good in my right thigh through my jeans while inspecting Old faithful.

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