June 2, 2013
Last week we added a new brood box to each hive, so this week’s inspection tasks included:
- refilling the feeder buckets
- checking the new frames for comb
- checking frames for eggs to verify the queen’s presence
Oddly, the two hives had swapped behavior over the past week. Where Green Hive 1 (GH1) had been visibly more active, Yellow Hive 2 (YH2) was now more active. So my main goal, in addition to the checklist above, was to ensure that GH2 is still in good working order.
The overcast had cleared and the sun was peeking out and drying things up after a few morning sprinkles. The temps were around the high 80’s or low 90’s with a mild breeze.
I opened and pulled some new frames from GH1. A few bees had ventured into the new box, but most were still in the bottom box. The frames looked scarce. Quite a transition from how they looked before the new box was added. The bottom chamber was very crowded and busy though. I hoped they were filling in the rest of the original frames. The good news is that new comb had been started on all of the new frames, so I know they’d been working up top.
I looked for eggs in the cells, which would be a sure indication that the queen is present. I saw only small pools of honey in the cell bottoms. That doesn’t mean there were no eggs. It’s hard to see through the veil, and I later found that I wasn’t holding the frame correctly to look for eggs. I learned the correct method in class, but forgot when the occasion arose. Story of my life these days.
I was holding the frame up toward the sun, when in fact the sun should be behind you with the light shining over your shoulder as you hold the frame downward. I know what the eggs look like, but it definitely takes practice to identify the microscopic white rice-shaped larvae nestled in the center of each cell. I saw nothing. Again, I rested on faith that the queen was intact and doing her job in the chamber below.
As soon as I opened YH2 I could see a significant difference between the two hives. Many more bees were present in the top box, new comb already covered the top frames, and everyone looked happy and busy. Again, I had trouble seeing eggs, but I did see nectar and honey in the cells. The feeder pail was almost empty too. They were feeding well. Since all looked good, I closed up YH2, filled both feeders and called it a night.
Although GH1 isn’t doing as well as YH2, I’m finally relaxing and feeling like I don’t have to bother them every few days. I’ll keep watch from the outside and will check on them every 1-1/2 to 2 weeks. I have a feeling GH2 will fix itself and both will soon be equally strong. At least that’s my hope.
Anyone out there have similar experiences? Do leave a comment and share!