Hive Cleanup

on April 5, 2010 in Bees, Photo

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.

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