Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bee Vlog - July 13, 2013

I'm bringing back the hive scale for some baseline measurements. I hear that the main nectar flow is over for my area so I'm taking weights to see how well all the hives did this year. This will also help me to track if another nectar flow starts up or if everything is done for the year. The weights and a chart are available at my apiary page.

It's also been 2 weeks since installing the quilt boxes on 2 of the hives and I wanted to see if they've started chewing through the canvas bottom. I'd like to put quilt boxes on all the hives this winter, but need to first test things out with this design.

All the hives but one seem to be doing just fine. The one hive, Queen Isabella (a cutout from June 1, rescued from a townhouse attic), just isn't growing as I would expect. The population seems to be dwindling. There's good looking brood, plenty of pollen, but very little honey. I'll check on them again in 2-3 weeks and see if things have improved. If they still look weak then I'll give them a boost from a frame of brood and a frame of honey from a strong hive and reduce their space to one box.

Video Link

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Bee Vlog - July 6, 2013

I relocated my newest swarm, Queen Jezebel, to another yard. When I moved the hive I found a lot of dead workers piled up under the screened bottom board. Some still dying. Then this morning I saw more dead workers all around the hive, and witnessed some pretty aggressive behavior before and after I opened them up to add a second box. They were not aggressive with me...just each other.

This was a swarm I caught 2 weeks ago and they've been so crowded (thus...the addition of the 2nd box) I wondered if that has contributed to their attitude. But after showing the battle in this video to some other beeks, 2 possible hypotheses have emerged. 1) It's a robbing. 2) This swarm had 2 (or more) queens and the bees are at war to choose a winner (or a victor has emerged and the losers are being exiled).

The first one seems most likely, but weird given the fact that the same thing was happening in both locations. And, while it has some similarities, this doesn't look like a textbook robbing. So I like the 2nd hypothesis. During and after the inspection I got the vibe that there were 2 warring factions living in the same hive. But you'd think this kind of situation would have already been worked out. My personal 3rd hypothesis is that, as we enter a time of dearth this over populated hive can't feed everyone so some bees have got to go. Either way, this footage is getting archived for future reference.

Video Link

**UPDATE** Things settled down a bit after a couple of hours. Still some wrestling, but not as much activity. The next day everything looked normal. Typical foraging activity with pollen coming in.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Bee Vlog - June 29, 2013

While out inspecting hives I got word of a swarm just about a mile away. A quick and easy catch. I didn't keep this one. Gave it to a friend who was wanting to get a swarm.

Video Link

I've been wanting to install quilt boxes on my hives for a while now, but never found or created a design I liked...until now. One of the common problems I was seeing around the quilt box in general is trying to prevent the bees from chewing through the cloth. I think I may have solved it, but only time will tell. Queen Catherine and Guinevere get the quilts.

Oh my! Queen Catherine is bulging at the seams and needs a 4th box ASAP. I just finished a couple boxes but they still need paint. I can barely keep up with the equipment demands!

I also built more top entrances and installed them on 2 of the larger hives (Beatrice & Flora). When I used an entrance like this last summer I found that the bees used them more for ventilation on hot days than actual egress.

Checked up on Queen Elizabeth to see if they might have too much room. They've filled out box #1 about 80%. Box #2 isn't getting used for brood or honey yet. But there are plenty of bees and they seem to be working on it to get it cleaned up and ready for use. So I left the configuration as-is.

Queen Isabella got her first inspection. Last weekend, after moving them out to the new location and leaving them locked up for 3 days they were very angry and attacked me when I set them free last Monday. So they've had the week to cool off and they seem to be doing fine now. Box #2 is full and is being used for all the brood and food at the moment. But there are bees working on the comb in Box #1.

Video Link