Saturday, June 2, 2012

Second Hive Inspection: 05-22-2012

B+33 Days and counting...

Weather Report:
65 degrees, sunny with a slight breeze

As the hives are now well past the 21 days it takes for a newly laid egg to develop into a new bee, I am expecting to see quite a bit of population build up during this inspection.  Up until recently, the population would have been slowly decreasing as the original bees that came in the packages were dying off, either of old age or other causes.  Assuming that my queens are laying a lot of eggs, I hope to see more worker bees.

Inspection Report:
White Hive:

I popped open the lid of the white hive after giving it a few puffs of smoke and I noticed that I really needed to pry the lid up.  The bees have been collecting propolis and applying it liberally!  Propolis is a resinous substance that bees collect from the sap of various types of trees.  They typically use it as a type of "bee glue".  If they find a crack anywhere in the hive they can seal it up with propolis.  It also has antibacterial properties and helps to keep the inside of the hive sterile.  In some cases, the bees can even use it to cage up unwanted pests in the hive.  If you look around the outside edges of the hive box, you can see the yellowish, waxy, sticky propolis.

As I began to inspect the frames, I also had to make more of an effort to pry them apart as they had also been stuck together.  The bees are currently covering about four out of ten frames.  I spotted lots of capped honey, pollen and brood.  I was hoping to see more bees in this hive and more capped brood but maybe the queen is still a bit skeptical laying eggs in these plastic frames.

Speaking of the queen, I spotted her!  After no luck seeing her during the last inspection, here she is in all her glory!  Can you spot her in this picture?  She has a long golden abdomen in the upper third of this photo and slightly to the left of center.  It can be a bit of a challenge spotting her (especially since she is not marked).  I'm guessing it will be even more difficult in the future as more and more bees are added to the hive.

Having seen everything I wanted to, I closed up the hive and removed the empty feeder jar.  I think at this point there should be enough natural nectar sources that they no longer need any supplemental feeding.

Green Hive:
This hive is coming along nicely and the bees have built up partial combs on six of the ten frames.

 I'm pleased with their progress and I am especially happy that there appears to be a much more uniform brood pattern on these frames.  As you can see in this photo, they have drawn out about 60% of the frame and it is almost entirely covered in sealed brood.  There are only a few open cells, either where the support wire is or where a bee has already hatched.  Even in the hatched cells the queen has already laid a new egg there!

In this photo you can really see the difference in the area where the bees have already hatched. 
The comb is a darker amber color instead of the golden color of new wax.  The comb will actually continue to darken over time as more and more generations of bees are raised inside those cells.  With each new bee born, it leaves behind a microscopic layer of the cocoon it spun while inside the cell.  The remaining capped brood near the hatched cells will no doubt be hatching in the next few days.

Continuing the inspection, I found two frames that had been connected by comb the bees decided to build between the two frames.
 As I pried them apart, the comb was torn open exposing all the honey that had been stored there.  The bees rapidly formed up along the new trough of honey and began gobbling it up!  They certainly wasted no time in recovering what they had worked so hard to store up!  Thankfully, I noticed this right away and I didn't flip this frame upside down.  Otherwise I would have been covered in honey and the bees would have been all over me  =)

Inspecting the last few frames I was treated to another gift.......the Green Queen has been spotted!

A bit easier to see her in this photo since I am pointing her out.  Looks like she has her head buried into an empty cell to see if she can lay an egg in there.  You can also see in many of the surrounding cells, some mature larva that look like they will be capped any day now.  My gut feeling is that the Green Queen is doing much better than the Black Queen.  The next few weeks should really be telling, especially if the population of Green Hive explodes while the White Hive only slowly increases or stays the same.

As with the White Hive, I completed the inspection and removed the empty feeder jar.

In closing, I was very happy to have spotted both queens.  Both hives appear to be doing well and as I often tell people, "I haven't managed to kill them all yet".

Thanks again for reading, and I'll leave you with this AWESOME picture that my wife took from one of the frames in Green Hive.  It has already become the desktop background on my computer.  I don't know how she captured the light and geometry so perfectly, but she really did a great job.  You can also witness a new bee chewing her way out of her cell here (just to the right of the center of the photo).  This photo really shows the miracle of God's creation!