Honey and Queens: A Quick Bee Update

The Engineer and I did a quick hive check today of three hives, without going into MayBees at all. We hope they’re in the middle of queen rearing, which can be a fraught time for a hive.

They certainly act a bit fraught, still bearding (though not all the time now) and very active, so we’ll wait at least another week or two before we take a peek.

We did look at the supers and top box of California Girls. I’m a little concerned because there are an awful lot of drones in the hive. I think they hatched from the comb we attached to the frame with rubber bands, but we didn’t go deep enough to see if this is the case. It’s a little worrying, but there were plenty of workers too.

As I said, this was only a sneak peek, mainly to look at the supers because we were pretty sure they needed extracting.

We were right. One super was full of honey, most of it capped.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

They were just starting on the second super, but we still have the goldenrod/aster nectar flow in August/September, so I expect that will fill also. And, the last time we looked in the brood boxes (deeps), they had a fair amount of honey and pollen there.

We need to take a deeper look soon, just to stay on top of things. For today, however, we put an escape board between the full super and the just-getting-started super to get the bees out of the full one so we can extract its honey.

Buzzers’ Root also got a brief check of just the honey supers, and we were pleased to see both full of mostly capped honey. They got another honey super, topped by an escape board and the two full supers.

Here’s a picture of an escape board from BetterBee.eb1_nEscape boards work by making it easy for bees to move back down to the brood boxes, and difficult to return to the supers. (They like to return to the brood boxes during the night when it’s cooler.)

There are other methods you can use to remove bees from the supers, but the escape board has worked for us in the past. If you’re interested, you can click through to HoneyBeeSuite for information about the other means of clearing bees.

The important thing with an escape board is to remove it within 48 hours. If you don’t, the bees will figure out a way to get back to their hard-earned honey.

Our last task today was to have a look at NewBees (II). This is the first split we made this year, and it isn’t as active as California Girls, Buzzers’ Roost, or even MayBees.

My theory is that’s because it’s a split, so it’s a smaller hive. “But, Kym,” you say, “MayBees is a split also, and you say it’s crazy full.”

At least, that’s what you’re saying if you’ve been paying attention.

Hear me out. We’ve had two packages of Saskatraz, and from what I’ve observed, they  build their population quickly. Also, we split Buzzers’ into the NewBees hive several weeks sooner than we split California Girls.

Thus, California Girls was very crowded by the time we split it. Plus we split it into two deeps, rather than using a nuc box with three frames of bees and two of pollen and honey. So MayBees started out with more population.

At any rate, NewBees (II) seems fine. We saw eggs, larvae, capped brood and, once again, The Engineer spotted the queen.

Can you?QueenUnmarked

Did you find her? I’ve marked her on the picture below. QueenMarked

And here she is, unmarked, but all on her lonesome, which is unusual. Usually queens are surrounded by workers.IMG_3298Her laying pattern is a bit spotty, not as compact as we’d like to see, but she’s still young, and the hive’s two boxes are getting a little full (mostly of honey), so maybe she feels like she doesn’t have enough space to fill a frame with eggs.

We’ll be adding a third box to give them some room before the week is out to combat this.

In less welcome news, we also saw two hive beetles, our first (and second) this season. The Engineer killed one, and the other was already dead in the trap, so we put the trap back in to catch any of the beetle’s mates that might still be around. (All four hives have traps since we’ve had issues with these nasties before and prefer to avoid them if possible.)

Here’s some pictures of NewBees’ honey.

Sorry, I just looooove to take pictures of all that sweetness!

Tomorrow is extraction day, which will be a hot mess, but very rewarding, although more for us than the bees. 🙂

The plan after that? Give NewBees (II) a new box, do a thorough check of Buzzers’ and Cali Girls, and move Buzzers’ to a lower stand, which The Engineer will be engineering in the next few days or so.

Then, sometime toward the end of the month or the start of August, have a look at MayBees to see if they’ve managed to requeen.

After that, it will be time to treat the hives again, start prepping for winter, and hopefully have another extraction of goldenrod honey (if the bees don’t need it for winter food).

We love our bees, even when they sting. We’d love them even if we didn’t get any honey, but I must admit extracting and adding up how much we’ve got is always a thrill.

I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

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