Tag Archive | release

The Queen is Free

August 24, 2013 (Day 106) – Inspection

Blue Hive 3
I’ve been checking on Blue Hive 3 (BH3) over the past few days, since introducing the queen. It can take anywhere from 2 days to an entire week for her to be released. I checked on day 3 and day 5. I suspect she was released on day 7. Today I found an empty queen cage, lots of bur comb, and tons of active little bees. I did look for the queen and didn’t find her. Doesn’t mean she isn’t there, just means she was hiding from me.

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BH3 is still a very young hive, so I’ve kept a watchful eye on it since neighboring Green Hive 1 (GH1) is a big bully and likes to hang out front and sneak their way into BH3 for a little robbing frenzy.  I put the entrance reducer to the smallest size.  There’s not much activity yet at the front of BH3, so their guard is still down.

I also noticed inside the hive that the two end frames were practically untouched.  I split them up and put one on each end so they can be filled out.  Judging from the staircase of comb that travelled from the top of the frames to the top cover, the girls could use some more room.  Tomorrow I’ll head to my bee supplier and purchase some proper extra boxes and a proper top cover so they can start expanding upward.

I’m surprised at how well the plastic boardman feeder is working for BH3.  As a front feeder I can understand the robbing sensation they create, but within a closed top box it works very well.  However, I’m such a clutz and always end up spilling, not that the bees complain.  Quite the opposite.  They go nuts!  In fact, I was mixing a batch last weekend and we had the kitchen window open (screen down, of course).  A dozen bees were buzzing outside the kitchen window.  The little buggers could smell the sugar syrup and the Honey B Healthy from outside, so you can imagine what the scene is like when there’s a pool of syrup open right next to their hive.  Gear is good.

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Feeding frenzy on the mash pile. Starting to see a mix of different types of bees.

Green Hive 1

Green Hive is crazy active and doing super.  Like I said, they’re the bully hive, having endured Yellow Hive 2’s low period and now seeing their little neighbor hive at a relatively weak point, their strength has gone to their heads.

GH1 is still foraging like crazy on the clover in the yard and on late blooming plants.  The rain has perked everything back up.  Chunks of pollen are carried in and they’re sucking down a gallon of sugar syrup every 2 days.  I was considering emptying the bees out of their Box 5 and transferring it to BH3, but they need the space, and if they can draw out and fill that top box with stores, then that would be great for helping them get through the winter.

Yellow Hive 2 is Back

YH2 has really come to life.  They’re happy with their new queen and GH1 isn’t messing with them anymore.  They aren’t drinking as much syrup as GH1, maybe a gallon every 4 days.  Still not too shabby.  I didn’t bother them.  If it ain’t broke, leave them alone.

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Empty queen cage and a nice little gift of bur comb from the bees.

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Happy little family of hives.

I’m happy now that everyone seems to be on the right track.  No honey this year, but have been collecting the bur comb and hope to make some lip balm or face cream or something out of it.  Come heck or high water, I will give away some product from the hives this holiday season!

Then There Were Three

August 18, 2013 (Day 100) – Part 2

Yellow Hive 2 (YH2) forced me to make yet another quick executive decision.  This hive decided to requeen itself, which (thank goodness) we discovered just before we requeened the hive ourselves. This surprise left us with a beautiful $50 Texas Buckfast queen and no hive.  So I decided to split GH1 since it is very strong and should quickly make up for any contributions to its new little sister hive.

The Night Before

The night prior, I carefully went through the frames in GH1 and transferred two frames of honey and nectar, a frame of eggs and larvae, and two frames of capped brood to a nucleus hive, which is essentially a 5 frame box.  I looked at every frame very, very carefully to make sure none contained the queen.  I didn’t see her at all and suspect she was in the bottom brood box, safe from Beezilla.

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I did this the night before for two reasons:

  1. To give the new hive a 24 hour separation period from their current queen so they will hopefully be more accepting of their new queen, and
  2. To get them acclimated to their new location, right between GH1 and YH2.  If there’s no acclimation, then they may be inclined to return to GH2 rather than stay and prosper in BH3.

I believe the transfer was a success.  We let the bees rest in their new location until tomorrow when they meet their new queen.

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…v

I was in the garage at 8:30 PM last night painting boxes, because our new addition must have its own identity.  It must fit with our calypso, Caribbean colorfest in the garden theme.  

This new addition is completely unplanned.   But then the girls have been driving this show since day 1, so I really shouldn’t be surprised by the curve balls they keep throwing at us.  Ironic though that Blue Hive 3 (BH3) should become the newest member of our Boo Bee Apiary on Day 100 of this wild adventure.

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Pulling a Hive Out of Our Ying Yangs

We had the two boxes all painted and ready to go, but no bottom board, launch pad, entrance reducer, inner cover or top cover. We drove to our bee supplier first thing in the morning and he was closed! Ugh! We needed a complete hive and FAST! Our queen wasn’t faring well in that tiny little queen cage and we needed to get her in today!

My amazing and brilliant hubster offered to give up his play day with beer to build the pieces I needed to complete my hive. We visited Lowes and bought the supplies then quickly headed back home. While I made zucchini bread, he ripped out a top notch launching board, a screened bottom board, an inner cover and a top cover. His first time ever building these pieces, and as always he did a stellar job. We did learn that unless you build in bulk, it is NOT cheaper to build your own hives and hive parts. I’ll stick with my bee supplier, when he’s open. Homemade is good for now.

BH3 is Born

I decided to keep the hive closed in for another day, just to be sure they would be acclimated to their new location. So we placed a complete strip of wood across the hive entrance. I opened the nuc and was very pleased to see a very large population of bees. Just as I transferred my first two hives back in May, I moved the frames and placed them into the new hive in the exact same order.

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I added a strip of velcro to the queen’s cage, and placed the other half of the velcro on top of a center frame so she could hang between the brood frames. The velcro worked perfectly. We hung her between the frames, candy side up and screen facing out between the frames so the Queen could be attended to.

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Feeder Lesson Learned

I shook in the remaining bees and closed up BH3 leaving a boardman feeder in a second top box. Accidentally I left the feeder on top of the hive until I was ready. I walked away for 2 minutes and returned to a feeding frenzy. I shooed them away and proceeded to grab the feeder by the cup, collapsing the feeder and releasing syrup everywhere. It was a robber’s sugary dream. I managed to clean most of it up and rinsed the sugary areas with water. Lesson learned!

Reflection

I have to say that I’m actually proud of our split and how we handled the whole YH2 situation. Ok, so I’m not the most calm, cool and collected beekeeper; I still fumble around the hive; and yes, I lost a few winks of sleep worrying about the girls, but this whole scenario has taught me so much and I do love a happy ending.

BH3 will be a bit of an experiment. We’ll baby it through the winter and hope for the best.

If someone had told me this time last year that I’d have 3 bee hives, I’d have thought they were nuts. Pretty amazing really. Right now I think 3 is all we can handle. This increases our chances of getting a hive through winter, thus improving our chances for honey next year. Woo hoo!

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