Thursday, August 13, 2015

2015-08-10: Back In The Game

After my rather dramatic post last time, I just couldn't wait anymore and had to get out to see the bees.  I armed myself with some Benadryl, my EpiPen and my friend Keith and headed out to do some inspections!  I actually donned the FULL bee suit as well, which I haven't worn since I did the shed cut-out.  Dang is that thing hot!  My goals were to check and see if the cut-out hive had successfully re-queened themselves and to check the nuc hives to see how they were doing with the new queens in them.

Cut-Out Hive / Yellow Hive:

I had Keith do all the work and I just barked orders the entire time.  Thankfully Keith is a really good sport and was happy to help me out.  He removed the cover, took off the extra boxes that were covering the honey feeder and got into the first box.  The bees were pretty sparse here and there were only a few frames with any wax drawn at all.  And even those frames only had a few spots on them with any wax.  That box came off and we were into the next box.  Slightly more wax built out in this box but about half the frames were still untouched.  Finally after getting to the last three frames we were able to see some good drawn frames.

Plastic Frames being filled
About 3/4 of the frame was drawn and there was some capped honey and some nice pollen in the cells.  The next frame was very similar and I was able to spot some larva scattered here and there.  This was the first good sign that a queen was present.  We grabbed the last frame and look who we spotted!

Cut Out has a new Queen!
She's a beauty!  Look at how dark she is.  She definitely has some non-Italian genetics in her.  I'm hoping she has "Winter Survivor" written all over her!  I followed her around with the camera for a bit and if you zoom in on this photo you can see she has eggs in every cell.  Good job!

New Queen and Eggs
At this point I really didn't need to go into the last box since I know they were able to re-queen themselves.  I had Keith take a few frames from the top box that had some wax on them and swap them with some of the frames that had no wax on them.  Then we removed the top box entirely.  They have a lot of wax to draw still and they don't really need that extra space to police.  I also decided that since there weren't really a lot of bees in the hive that I would put the entrance reducer on.  We are probably due for a nectar dearth and I don't want the strong neighboring hives to bust in and rob this hive out.  I'll probably make up some syrup to feed them and this should get them to draw out some more wax.  I need them to fill out three medium boxes before Winter sets in.

Speaking of Winter, I see the Goldenrod starting to bloom in my area.  That always signals the approach of Fall.  Many of my late blooming flowers are also in full bloom.

Coneflowers in bloom
Green Nuc:

Since my Nuc hives only have 5 frames, it makes them really quick and easy to check.  Most of the honey frames that I put in are still full.  They have eaten a little bit and replaced it with pollen which is a good thing.  Two frames in and we hit the first solid brood frame.  The new queen looks like she is settling in nicely!

Solid brood pattern
The very next frame over I was able to spot her majesty.  The green dot on her back makes it a little too easy to spot her.

This hive is doing pretty well with two frames of brood front and back and two frames of honey and pollen.  The one empty frame I had given them sadly remained empty.  They had a few blobs of comb ridges created but I didn't care too much for them.  I had Keith scrape some it off the frame.  I'm hoping when all these sealed brood start hatching out that there will be a lot of new bees that will be primed to start drawing wax.  I need to get busy building some boxes so I can move these nucs into full sized hives soon.

Yellow Nuc:

Very similar to the Green Nuc.  Two honey frames that the bees had eaten a little from and replaced with either pollen or more nectar.  Two pretty solid frames of capped brood.

Capped brood on Honey Super Cell plastic frames
This hive seemed to be much more interested in drawing some comb on the new plastic frames though.

New comb and brood
Since this was a medium sized frame that I placed into a deep sized box, the bees have drawn comb off the bottom of the frame to fill in the space.  Bees are sure efficient!

On the opposite side of this frame they decided to draw a few of the same ridges I described in the last nuc.  At least they've drawn plenty of normal looking comb too.

Comb ridges
I'm wondering if they were just stealing wax from one part of the comb to make this instead of drawing new wax? 

We spotted the queen on the next frame and that was the last thing I needed to see.  This was a very successful inspection.

Next Steps:

I plan on making some 1:1 sugar syrup to feed to the hives trying to draw new wax.  I need to get the full sized boxes ready to move the nucs into.  I also need to give Green Hive a check to see how much of the two honey supers they have filled and also to see if the new queen is doing alright in there as well.  I'd also like to do some Varroa monitoring with a powdered sugar shake.  That sounds like a lot to do and we are already half way through August!

As always, thanks for reading!


  1. Beautiful queens! I have just been reading about over-wintering nucs. I don't have any, but someday.... Here's the link: It's a very long thread but really interesting. I figure if Michael Palmer can do it in Vermont, then maybe I can do it here, too. First I have to learn to keep my big hives alive over the winter. I'm tired of starting over in the spring. Hoping my hives build up to a full deep and a full medium before November.

    1. Thanks Robin, I'll look at that link for sure. Yeah, I'm really hoping this change in genetics will stack the deck more in my favor for overwintering. It is depressing to have to start from scratch every Spring.

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