Archive for the ‘Bees’ Category

Well kinda… We picked up two packages of bees today from Dadant up in Wisconsin. We repopulated the hive that starved out last winter, and also got bees into the new top bar hive that I made over Easter weekend.

In order to encourage the new package of bees to stay in the new hive we tied a couple of pieces of honey ladened comb to the top bars. It seems to have worked.

The kinda comes in, in that I had divider boards in the hive to try to limit the space that the bees had to build in to start with. Unfortunately the top bars were all pushed to one side leaving a quarter inch at one end which the little ladies promptly found and decided to invade… So I ended up removing one of the divider boards and give them a lot more room than I intended.

I hope that the Queen stays near where we have the bate comb so she stays mostly centered in the hive…

Unfortunately  Otter was stung and now looks like she walked into something with her eye.

I am a little bummed out.

The new hive I made over Easter weekend needed maintenance.  I painted the roof and everything else with exterior latex paint.  Today I noticed that it was bubbling up in some places.  So I scraped off the bad paint (some rather large sections that didn’t stick to the wood at all) washed it down to clean it off.  I have now put a new first layer of paint on it, let’s hope it will stick better this time…

Tuesday morning I cleaned up the east hive, which died out over the winter.  We should have removed a couple of the boxes, I think they had too much space to try to keep warm in, so part of the failure was freezing.

The other problem was, I think, starvation, even though there was lots of honey left – bees are brilliant in an instinctive-behavior sense when it comes to things like building comb.  When it comes to things like reversing what direction they’ve been moving over their honey stores over the winter to get to a place with plenty of honey . . . not so much.

The first two pictures show the top of the top box of the hive, with come that they built between the tops of the frames and the inner cover – gives a sort of cross-section view of what wild-built comb looks like.  Not so neat and perfectly even as you might be led to believe.

All the bees you can see in the first two and the third picture are dead.  The third picture probably best shows some dead with their heads still in cells.  That’s a sign of starvation.

See all the capped (closed) cells on the frame in the fourth picture?  They’re full of honey.  The reverse side of that frame has even more honey-filled cells.  There’s really quite a lot left.  Hence our assumption of guilt on not reducing the number of boxes for the winter leading to freezing.

This fourth and last picture also shows a kind of strangely-built area in the center of the frame.  These plastic frames, it turns out, need to be pushed up against each other, or there’s enough space that the workers can get . . . creative in their comb-building. We thought we had remedied all their creatively-built areas, but apparently not.

I removed sections like that from several frames, hopefully the new bees will fill in with nice neat comb, like the lobes on the outer sides of this frame.

It was cool enough Tuesday morning that the two surviving colonies of bees were still snuggled in their hives, so I was able to clean up this one with no gloves or veil on, and could easily take pictures with my iPhone’s camera.  Elrond wandered around and did wander through to see what I was up to, but didn’t seem particularly interested in the dry, empty old comb I’d scraped out of some areas.