Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hive Inspection: 08-21-2012


Let us all bow our heads in silent prayer as we fondly remember the Top Bar Hive.  It was a good hive, filled with the expectant hope of new life and a bountiful harvest.  Alas, it twas not to be.  Let us not focus on how it died, but on how it lived.  <end sermon>

Well, as you can surmise, the TBH is kaput.  Deceased.  Passed on.  Gone to join the choir invisible.  Pushin up the Daisies.  It is an EX-TBH.  Sorry, bad mimicry of Monty Python's dead parrot sketch.  Anyway, I'm not 100% certain on the prelude to its demise, but something happened to weaken the hive and that allowed a bunch of wasps of various sorts to raid the hive, killing most of the defenders and the queen.

So, lets look on the bright siiiiide of life <whistle>:
  • The bees were "free", since they were won at the Spring MBA conference.
  • They added to the learning experience of the beekeepers
  • I was able to purchase and apply a disease test kit for both American Foulbrood and European Foulbrood which both came up negative  <whew!>
  • Since the bees will no longer be needing their honey, it was liberated

Opening the Foulbrood test kit

Removing a dead bee larvae

Test results.  If a line shows under the "T" it is postitive

Green Hive:

Thankfully, this hive is still going bonkers.  The bees have only barely started to draw out the wax on the second honey super I added, so at this point in the year I won't be expecting to harvest anything from this super.  Anything the bees store here before Winter, they will keep.

The first honey super I placed on this hive has almost every frame 80-90% of glorious honey capped!!  I was ecstatic to see this!  I have heard that you don't often get a harvest during your first year but it appears I will at least get a little bit from this hive!  Not really sure how much honey to expect from one super but I ordered two cases (12 each) of 9oz glass Hex Jars.  I guess if I fill them all I can always use Mason jars or some other container.

Lots of capped honey
I have also been surprised at the vast amounts of propolis the bees on this hive seem to make.  I guess I'm not familiar with the different varieties of honey bees, but the ones I have seem to make a lot!

Lots of sticky propolis

White Hive:

I am still surprised at how hot it can get in a bee suit even when the temperature is "only" in the 70s.  Since at this point in my inspection I had sweated off most of my body weight, I made this one quick.  My friend Keith was also helping me and I'm sure he appreciated the expedited inspection.  I pulled a few frames finding the first still empty of comb, but the next two were increasingly built up.  Frame 9 had about 50% comb and Frame 8 had about 80% and Frame 7 had about 95%.......and the Queen!  I've gotten fairly decent at spotting her finally!  Can you see her in the photo?

White Queen
After a short debate we decided we might as well add a honey super.  I don't really expect them to do much with it at this point in the year so any honey they store will be for the bees to eat over the Winter.

Wow, I can't believe we are hitting September at the end of this week.  Fall is quickly approaching, as is the close of my first year of beekeeping.  What a ride!

As always, thanks for reading...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

07-31-2012: Quick Inspection

I haven't had the time, help or ambition to attempt fixing all the cross comb that I discovered during the last inspection of Green Hive, but I thought I would at least give them all a quick peek.  I also needed to remove the feeder from the Top Bar Hive.  Well, nothing is ever as easy as you think it will be!


Upon removing the first few bars from the TBH I was disappointed (but not surprised) to see no real progress in comb building.  There were not many bees present, although the feeder was empty.  I picked up the empty jar and this is what I discovered.

Oh crap.  I instantly thought I discovered why the hive was so weak, Small Hive Beetles!  Well, come to find out after a little research, these are NOT SHB.  These are common "Sap Beetles" or "Picnic Beetles".  They are drawn to rotting fruit or fermenting liquids.  In this case, it was the sugar syrup from the feeder.

Sadly, after dodging one bullet, I was struck with another.  I removed a few more bars to open the hive up and I noticed quite a few yellow jackets and other types of wasps flying around my hive tool and inside the hive.  As I looked deeper into the hive I saw a lot of wasps and few bees.  I worked my way up to the front of the hive to see signs of a recent battle.

You can see many corpses littering the floor of the hive near the entrance.  The hive floor was also very wet looking.  After crushing a few wasps with my hive tool, I noticed that most of critters sticking their heads into the cells were wasps, helping themselves to the undefended honey.  This hive was being robbed.  Crap.  I did the only thing I could think of at the time.  I plugged up most of the entrance holes so that the remaining bees might have a chance to defend the hive.

There were so many wasps flying around, I did not proceed to inspect the last few frames.  So, I don't know if the queen is dead or not.  Not sure what to do at this point.  I don't think much can be done to save this hive since it is so late in the year.  Especially not knowing if the hive had any sort of brood disease that weakened them in the first place.  I had not spotted any eggs either so there is no chance of them raising their own queen.  Not good.

I ordered an American Foulbrood and a European Foulbrood test kit from Dadant and the results of those tests will likely determine if I need to burn the hive (with AFB) or attempt to save the hive in some manner if the tests come back negative.

Green Hive:

This hive is going bonkers.  I wanted to just take a quick look to see if they had made any progress on the medium super I added during the last inspection and a FULL box of bees were looking up at me when I opened the lid!  I did not pull the frames but seeing bees looking up from between EVERY frame gave me a great boost after the TBH.  I wasn't prepared for this and I had to run back into the pole barn to grab another super!  Two honey supers on now and I'm thinking I have a chance of taking some honey from this hive this year!

I finished this hive by placing some bottle caps onto the top cover to prop it up a bit.  This is suppose to allow for additional ventilation in the hive.  I really should have done this back in July when the weather was in the high 90's but I kept forgetting.

I also keep forgetting to remove the entrance reducer.  It is now stuck down really well with propolis and I have four heavy boxes piled on top if it!  Hmmm, maybe I can take it off during the NEXT inspection.  If I don't forget again  =)

White Hive:

Although this hive is behind Green Hive, I am pleased with their progress.  It looks like they have drawn out about 50% of the new box I put on during the last inspection.  I am not expecting to harvest any honey from this hive this year.  I'll end this report with a nice close up of the bees.  Smile girls!!