Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bee Blog Slacker: 2014-09-20

Well a lot has happened in the bee world since my last post in June.  I guess things get crazy here in Michigan during the summer time when it seems so short but that is no excuse!  Thank you to my lovely daughter for reminding me that people are worried about the bees and they are left in suspense if I don't write these posts.....heheheheh  =)

Here is a quick summary of what has happened since:

Green Hive:  

Doing OK but not strong.  Had some queen drama where I found no brood in the hive during an inspection on 7/24 and found capped queen cells in White Hive.  I transferred the capped queen cells to the Green Hive and after looking through the photos I took during the inspection I spotted that there was a queen in Green Hive after all!!!  So either the queen in Green Hive was a virgin or not laying eggs for some other reason.

White Hive:  

Strong compared to Green Hive for sure.  This hive may have swarmed since I spotted all the capped and uncapped queen cells.  Usually they build swarm cells along the bottom of the comb so this does follow that pattern.  If they did swarm then about half of this colony is hopefully living in a cozy tree somewhere!

Lots of capped Drone brood and a few queen cells
So now fast forward from then end of July and into the end of September (that sounds really depressing actually).  I just did a full top to bottom inspection of Green Hive and I checked the honey super on White Hive to see if it was ready to come off.

Green Hive: 

The top box had about 4 totally empty frames.  It is too late in the year now for the bees to have enough incoming nectar to make wax.  So they will stay empty for the rest of this year.  There was one frame of solid honey and the rest of the frames had a mixture of honey, nectar and bee bread.

What the heck is bee bread you ask?  When bees bring the pollen back to the hive, another worker bee packs the pollen into a cell and adds some honey or nectar and enzymes to it.  This causes some fermentation to occur and breaks the pollen down into a more consumable form for the bees.

Lots of maroon colored bee bread on this frame
Compare the color of the bee bread to the color of the fresh yellow pollen on the back of this bees leg in this photo:

This bee bread is the primary source of food for developing brood.  Since this hive doesn't have any brood, they have a lot of bee bread stored.

The bottom box has only two empty frames and most of the remaining frames are packed full of bee bread or honey with very few empty cells.

Solid frame of honey

The bottom line for Green Hive is that they appear hopelessly queenless.  This late in the year there is really no possibility of buying a replacement queen.  I did check around online and every place I looked is sold out (and probably were sold out months ago).  Also, there is no hope of the bees having enough time to raise their own queen if I donated some eggs from White Hive.  It would take at least 16 days for a new queen to hatch.  By then it would be the middle of October and there would be no drones for her to mate with.  Matter of fact, during my inspection, I witnessed numerous drones being dragged out of the hive by their loving sisters.  I think the only option I have now is to combine this hive with White Hive (Newspaper Combine).  After I do that my remaining hive will go into Winter with FOUR deeps of food and bees.  No matter how bad the upcoming Winter is, that should be plenty to get them through it.

White Hive:

Even with the possibility that this hive swarmed earlier, it is still a strong hive.  They have managed to fill about half of a honey super.  Not great but better than nothing.  I plan to take this honey off when I combine Green Hive with this one.  I might be able to get 1 gallon of honey from this box.

What's Next:

I'm planning on doing the combine, removing the honey and doing a mite sampling tonight.  If I have enough time I'll extract the honey this weekend.  The next blog post will be up shortly!

As always, thanks for reading!


  1. Very interesting update! These bees, they do what they want on their own schedule. I wonder what the queen deal is? I envy your 4 boxes through this winter. Should be plenty of bees to keep warm come another polar vortex.

    1. I sure hope so Robin!! It is a trade off to have either two hives that have a chance to survive the winter or only one. Adding that many bees and having the four boxes on gives me great confidence that they will make it through a polar vortex or two!

  2. Don't laugh at your daughter, she is absolutely right, we do like to see what is happening in your hives.

    I hope your winter isn't going to be as bad as last year.

    1. Thanks, that is good to know Tim! =)

      Yes, I hope so too. So, you are just now starting to come out of winter where you are?

  3. Mark,

    Yes we are into spring and I love to walk past the eucalyptus trees and hear the buzzing of industrious little workers. As our winters aren't as cold one of my hives didn't use all their stores so I was able to take three frames off as my stores were getting low.