Sunday, August 16, 2009

Combine the Hives, Hope for the Best

From left to right: "New Hive," started this spring, "Old Hive," the combined hives from last year, and "Swarm Hive," also known as "Dying Hive with Two Queen Bees."

Having explored Old Hive yesterday and found it booming with bees, honey, pollen and capped brood...but showing no signs of a queen, uncapped brood or eggs, and having found TWO QUEENs in the poorly populated and poorly stocked Swarm Hive, we decided to combine the two hives and let them work it out. is Old Hive with a carefully chosen piece of newspaper (selected for interesting story and picture) topped with Swarm Hive. There is a honey super on top that we stole from Old Hive yesterday, hoping that its couple frames of honey would keep Swarm Hive from starving while we worked out a plan. (We poked pin holes through the newspaper so they can start getting to know each other by scent while they think about eating through the paper.)

We'll get things down to two deeps before winter. Goodness only knows if this is the best plan, but Swarm Hive was definitely not going to make it through the winter without reinforcements.
Oh, here's a bad thought. What if the youngest queen had not yet taken her mating flight?? Who knows? I'm always just happy to not get stung. Best wishes, Combined Hive.
[Combined hive=Rachel + Sylvia + Swarm]

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saw Bee Hatch, One Hive with TWO Queens!!??!!

****Old Hive****

Did a thorough inventory of the hive today. Capped brood and pollen in the bottom deep. Capped brood in the middle of the top deep. We actually SAW A BEE EMERGING from it's capped cell, all grown up and ready to work. Several frames of honey on either side of the top deep, and corners of honey in the brood frames in the top deep.

We used the fume board, took off the empty super. The empty super is on the party porch, for the bees to clean out before we store it for the winter.

We took off the super that had a couple frames of honey and gave it (without the bees) to the swarm hive.

****New Hive****

We've been feeding them with the plastic top feeder since we swapped the deeps and took off the supers. The plastic top feeder is great for summer, because you can dump a gallon of sugar water in, and they can access it quickly. We will go to a central mason jar feeder when the weather gets cooler. We did not bother them today, but have fed them over a gallon of sugar water in the last week or so.

****Swarm Hive****

Breaking news--we saw TWO QUEENS in that half-assed hive today. That hive is a mystery a minute. It is still looking pathetic, with no honey, very little capped worker brood, too many drone brood cells and a lot of empty frames. But there were TWO QUEENS, on the same frame. We decided to start feeding them with gusto and see what happens.

I bought half gallon mason jars this morning and am going to go to the hardware store later today to get some boards cut to make mason jar feeders that fit the wide mouthed jars.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Early August Adjustments

We inspected the hives today, and moved stuff around. Here are before and after diagrams. I'm not sure our logic would make sense to someone else, but it made sense to us while we were working in angry clouds of bees.

"X" means that we plan to remove the marked boxes later.

First, the oldest hive, which has some honey we can harvest:

Then the "new" hive that we started this spring:

Then the "swarm" hive, also known as the "mostly dead" hive:

Ultimately we plan to combine the two weakest hives, the new and swarm hives:

We will use the fume board to get the bees out of the honey super and out of the deep that we're going to remove from the new hive, insert a piece of newspaper and stack the rest all back together.