Saturday, March 21, 2009

Switching the Hive Bodies, New Bottom Board

Before: After:
(1) Come spring, if you have two deeps (two hive bodies, or two boxes), the bees will have mostly moved up into the top box. We switched the top and bottom boxes to give them upwards room to grow. The queen's job in spring is to make lots of baby bees to do the work of the active season. (I'm not counting the very top box in this account, since it is a feeder rather than a hive body.)
(2) There were still two frames full of honey on the outside of the inhabited on either side. Since the bees still cluster in the middle when it is cold, they can't get to the honey if it is outside the cluster, so we took those frames and switched them with the two center frames of the emptyish box, which puts them now right above the cluster of bees. Top and center, ready to eat.
(3) We replaced the solid wood bottom board with a fancy screened bottom board. The screen will allow more ventilation, and will also help with reducing pests in the hive and doing studies to see how many mites and beetles and such are in the hive to begin with.
More on that later.
(4) The mason jar sugar feeder is still in that top box. It was a quarter full earlier in the week and was empty today. I'll make some more sugar water in the next hour or so to put in there tonight. We'll medicate the sugar water again to treat their ongoing stomach bug...see the telltale poopage on the front of the hive in this last picture?

Stomach bug or no, there were LOTS of bees in the hive. They're looking healthy and active on the whole.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bugs and Babies

Good news and bad news in the bee yard. First the bad news. I think my bees have Nosema, a stomach bug common in spring. Bees get it when they've been cooped up in their hive during cold spells. The brown smudges around the entrance indicate they might have upset tummies. The first good news...I have medicine for them. I mixed in 1/4 teaspoon of Fumagilin-B with their next bottle of sugar water, so they'll take it with their food. We put this bottle of medicated food on this afternoon.

Better news...while we were out there, we inspected inside the hive and found many good things. The picture below shows the nursery...with shiny white larvae and tiny white eggs and brown capped brood. Plus nurse bees attending the babies. The eggs and larvae indicate that the queen is alive and well....but there was also a brief queen spotting. She ducked down in the hive before we could take her picture, but she is definitely in there!
More good news...the bees have lots of stored pollen (the bright yellow patches, below) and honey. The honey on this picture is the dark brown to the right.

This is the top of the assistant bee keeper's head, and a whole frame of honey.

Soon we will go back out and switch the hive bodies, putting the now empty lower box on top and the active top box on bottom. Bees like to move UP. We'll also switch out the solid wood bottom board for a fancy screened bottom board. More on that later.

Monday, March 2, 2009

March 1 snow

The bees are snuggled in their hive...hopefully 92 degrees in their cluster. We went out once last night and once today to poke the snow out of their entrance hole. Last night there were two bees frozen in the slush at the entrance.