Sunday, April 5, 2015
With the cold and wet weather extending into April, the bees have been cooped up longer than usual, which makes for a slow start in terms of building up their populations and gaining access to pollen and nectar sources.
Last weekend, the temperatures reached mid-60’s, so I took advantage and did a full spring inspection, which involved:
- Checking for brood, larvae and eggs (indicates that the queen is present and laying)
- Cleaning the bottom boards (filled with dead bees and debris after a long winter of inactivity)
- Reversing boxes so the queen will bee located at the bottom of the hive with plenty of space to build upwards, and
- Providing clean frames in the box above the queen so she’ll have lots of space to lay many more eggs and move about freely.
What I found was the following:
- Purple Hive – small amount of brood, no eggs or larvae, lots of honey frames.
- Mint Hive – Brood, larvae, lots of honey frames
- Green Hive – No brood, no larvae, lots of empty comb, and lots of honey frames.
- Blue Hive – No brood, no larvae, lots of empty comb, and lots of honey frames.
Based on this inspection, only Mint Hive appeared to have an active queen, so this past week I was sent searching across the US for three queens. I quickly learned that queen bees aren’t typically available til about the 3rd week of April, and most of those were spoken for, which meant no queens for the BooBees until well into May. Ugh.
It doesn’t take long for a queenless hive to deteriorate, and here I had three suspected queenless hives. So what’s a beekeeper to do with queenless hives and no queens?
Well, one option is to transfer frames of eggs and larvae from a healthy hive to queenless so they can make their own queen. The problem with that option was that Mint Hive did not have enough eggs and larve to share. Next idea? Check back later and hope for the best…
Sunday, April 12, 2015
The weather has been improving with each day, and this past weekend was gorgeous. Flowers and trees started popping from out of nowhere, and the girls were buzzing with happiness over our cherry blossoms. Seems good weather was exactly what the bee doctor ordered. I dug back into the hives and discovered good brood, larvae and eggs in all hives. A festivus miracle, indeed! And they saved me $75!
The hubster laughs because 2 years ago I would’ve been Chicken Little screaming “the hives are falling, the hives are falling!”.
While inspecting, I pulled the jars of syrup. The bees have enough honey, they weren’t taking the syrup, so best to let them eat their natural food and save me the time and headache of dealing with supplemental feeding. They’re big bees now and able to feed themselves, so next week we’ll pull out the supers and give them space to start storing honey…for them and for us!
Lastly, during our spring cleaning and reorganizing, I collected old frames with dark wax comb that can be cleaned out and replaced with fresh wax foundation. Old comb is not healthy for the bees, so I’ll melt down and process the wax to use in balms and soaps. It’s tedious work, but I love the end product!
(Note: I wasn’t trying to be nostalgic w/ the b&w photo, I had no idea til they were downloaded. :o)
Strategies for the season ahead?
- Setting up swarm traps
- Checking regularly for queen cells
- Adding a box with fresh comb between the bottom two boxes as needed to ensure they always have space; and
- Split hives as needed.
The hubster said I have room for 3 more hives…and that’s in addition to reviving yellow hive – so who knows, I could have eight or nine hives by the end of this season. We shall see! In anycase, the girls are now ready for spring. Yay!
Happy spring! I’m off to clean frames…