Sep 01 2015

Yellow hive peek

So I had to put off inspecting the yellow hive for a couple of days because it’s been windy. And suddenly, the day time high’s are no longer in the high 80’s or 90’s but about 72 – Fall at last.

Yellow Hive inspection

This hive started with 6 boxes.

This is the entrance reducer. It's just wire screen mesh held down by pushpins on top and bottom, leaving about a 2 inch gap for the bees. This way it doesn't reduce their airflow, but keeps robbers out. I'll leave this on for the rest of the winter.

This is the entrance reducer. It’s just wire screen mesh held down by pushpins on top and bottom, leaving about a 2 inch gap on the right for the bees. This way it doesn’t reduce their airflow, but keeps robbers out. I’ll leave this on for the rest of the winter.

I took out one of the big totes with frames of honey, a couple of sorting boxes and got the smoker going. I knocked on the front door and under the lid and counted to 10.

This hive is actually doing really well, better than I thought it would be with the dry weather.

I ended up removing 4 entirely empty frames and putting back in 3 frames of honey from my honey bank.

There were 16 frames of bees in the hive, 22 frames of nectar or honey, 3 frames of pollen, 9 frames of brood, mostly capped, but there were a couple of frames with open brood, tiny brood and fresh eggs. I did not see the queen.

The bees were very friendly, busily working around me. There were a lot of bees in there so I was trying very hard not to squish any while I was inspecting.

Here's a nice fat fresh kernel of pollen on a frame left by a bee

Here’s a nice fat fresh kernel of pollen on a frame left by a bee

I managed the brood down to the bottom two boxes, although nearly all of it was already in these boxes. In the 3rd box I checkerboarded with empty frames for expansion and honey frames. Then the top 3 boxes were food.

So these girls are doing really well going into the fall so far. I looked closely for mites, but that doesn’t really count. I hate to treat them for mites “just in case” but I also hate to kill 300 of them for an alcohol mite count. I’ll have to do this within the next 2 weeks any way, just not today.

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Sep 01 2015

Boo boo and weather

So just before I left town for work, I had moved an entire box of honey over to the top of the yellow hive from the absconded orange hive.  I had already put a piece of newspaper between the top box of the yellow hive and this new box of honey because I was thinking I might have some bees left from the absconded hive and this would let them slowly integrate over a few days.  However, there were no bees.

Instead, by late afternoon, I realized I had created my own robbing situation.  Because the top box of honey was separated from the yellow hive boxes, bees could freely come into the top door of the hive, rob honey, and the bees in the yellow hive couldn’t surge up to protect the honey.

There was the telltale zillions of little brown dots all over the front of the top honey box outside the top door. There were bees just going in like crazy.

When you have robbing, you’re supposed to put a wet sheet over the whole hive for about 2 days to stop the robbing and reduce the entrance so the bees can better protect the hive.  I didn’t have this luxury because I had to leave for the airport the next morning at 4:30am.

So about 1:30pm I went out and reduced the entrance with a screen and put a big wet sheet over the whole hive and left it there until about 10pm that night, when I snuck out and took off the wet sheet and crossed my fingers.

LESSON:

Don’t close off the rest of the hive from a big ol’ box of honey on top.

 

Weather

On Saturday, we had a massive dust storm on top of the choking smoke. It shut down the entire middle of the state and the interstate freeway and rolled into town about 11am. This was on top of the already choking fire smoke.

Then on Sunday, we had rain – RAIN! OMGoodness! It’s the first measurable rain since early May. It rained about 3/4 of the day – wonderful wonderful wonderful rain.

 

 

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Aug 22 2015

A really rotten summer finally takes its toll

It’s been a really rotten summer.  Record breaking heat, record breaking drought, another record breaking fire season, and yesterday, our city was the city with the most unhealthy air in the nation, due to the smoke from all the forest fires hanging over us. It’s been absolutely nasty for a week now, with the brown, the sun a hot orange and casting a dull orange, creepy light everywhere. But yesterday and the day before were the worst. I’ve had the windows in my house shut up tight for days  now and yesterday when I went outside, it was literally choking and acrid. You couldn’t stop coughing until you went back inside. It kept me up until midnight because even with the windows closed, everything reeks of bitter wood smoke.

Yesterday, I noticed that the girls were out, but acting weird. Instead of their usual flitting like little jets in and out of the hive, sparkling up into the sun and zooming back in, they were just kind of twirling slowly around the hive in super slo-mo, not really going anywhere.  At the bee supply house today they said the bees were all disoriented and they found a bunch of them away from the hives, by the house, on the grass, moving slow and looking around like they were totally disoriented.

It makes sense – their whole world is about living and navigating by smell and everything smells like smoke.

I’ve been worried all summer about the drought and whether my bees will get enough food to last them into the winter. Then these last few days, I was scheduled to inspect the orange hive but I didn’t want to go into it because I figured if I was out there gagging and choking it couldn’t really be good to totally open the hive up.

Today was much, much better as we had pretty good winds overnight (NOT great for the fires). So I decided about 9am, when it was 61 degrees to go out and inspect the orange hive. Last time I was in there was 3 weeks ago and they weren’t doing as well as the other hives, with not nearly as much brood as the other two.

But first – DEFINITIONS: CCD, SWARM, ABSCOND

CCD – Colony Collapse Disorder

What it looks like: All the bees in the hive suddenly disappear, like overnight or in one day. No dead bees on the ground. The brood and food all left in the hive and the bees just – gone.

Causes: Not determined completely yet, although consensus is that contributory factors are mono-cropping and the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticide use.

SWARM

What it looks like: The bees leave brood in the hive, with about half of the bees, which are nursemaids, behind to take care of the brood. They take some food but leave plenty of food for the growing brood. They leave either a live virgin queen in the hive, or several queen cells ready to hatch so that the hive has what it needs to survive. This usually happens in the spring, but can happen later in the summer.

Causes:  The hive has been growing, and the queen brooding up, so quickly that the hive feels it’s running out of room. So it sends out scout bees to find another good spot for a hive. They start to prepare the hive by creating new queens. Then they take what food they need for their journey and take the existing queen with them to find another home, leaving a healthy half-hive in the original spot.  It’s their way of dividing and multiplying, like dividing daffodil bulbs.

ABSCOND -

What it looks like:  Everybody and everything is gone. The bees have all left, absconded with the all the food they can possibly carry and left nothing – no brood, no or little food, no bees.

Causes:  This usually occurs during a drought, or dearth, and the hive feels there is not going to be enough food and/or water to keep them alive, so the stop laying babies, scoop up all the food and leave to find better hunting grounds.

My orange hive absconded. I have no idea when in the last few days or week this happened, but I believe it happened a few days ago.

Orange Hive inspection synopsis:

5 western boxes to start. There were a scant 2 frames of bees, but I don’t believe these belong to the hive (more later). There were 12 frames that had some honey (half a frame or honey in the corners). There was no brood at all, no queen and all the frames, were entirely cleaned out.

Hmmmmm. I wondered if this could have happened because of the smoke? So I went up to the bee supply house to hopefully have a talk with The Wiz.

The Wiz wasn’t in, but his faithful worker Laura was. She said it sounded like they absconded and that there was probably not as much food because other hives, including my own, were robbing the hive of it’s food.  She said if there were little brown dots all over the front porch of the hive, this was a sign other bees were coming and and robbing the hive.  I discussed with her and decided I needed to combine what was left of the orange hive with the newer yellow hive since it was healthy.

About 3pm, I decided to go out and see what I could do. I took a piece of newspaper, a razor cutter, and then moved several of my big rubbermaid totes/lids and several empty boxes out to the bee deck.

I took apart the orange hive. Sure enough, I don’t think the activity in this hive was it’s own bees. There was quite a lot of furor (I didn’t see any wasps or hornets so that makes me think this hasn’t been going on for long) and any frame that had honey had bees all with their heads stuffed down in the cells and their butts up, which means they’re sucking up honey.

I decided there wasn’t really any hive to speak of to save and I need to get the robbing situation under control so the wasps don’t move in and I don’t end up with local bees who think it might be fun to move on to one of the other two healthy hives and start robbing them.

So I need to get rid of every trace of this hive.

I tore it down, smoked it and started moving frames. I managed to fill one box with 8 frames that had quite a bit of honey on them. I moved this box over to the top of the yellow hive. First on top of the current top honey box, I put a single sheet of newspaper with a tiny 1/2″ slit cut in the middle. Then I put on the new box with honey. That’s just in case some “riders” came with the honey and I don’t want them in fights. They’ll take a few days to tear a big hole in the newspaper and by then they’ll all be used to each other. And the yellow hive will have more honey then they had before.

Then I took each and every frame, one by one, out of the orange hive. I brushed it off and put it in a box in a rubbermaid tote. The bees were pretty wild and angry, although not aggressive and stinging. They just did not want to let go of any frame that had any amount of honey. So I had to keep brushing them until the second before I popped the lid, put the frame in and slammed down the lid.  That tells me that there’s a dearth of food since they are trying so hard to get at all the food.

It took me a good 45 minutes to get through the whole orange hive.

By the time I was done, I had the one box of honey on the yellow hive. and 3 totes with boxes that have frames with at least some honey and nectar. I had brushed all the bees of all the equipment and put it all, along with the sealed totes, into the bee shed and closed the door tight.

The bee deck was quite chaotic with bees all over in the air, so I backed out after cleaning up and let them be.

 

I read up on Absconding on the web and several beekeepers said that when their hive absconded, it was always during a dearth/drought and it was always a hive that was a little concerning already because of their lack of food or brood.

Blue and Yellow hive:

I quickly checked both the blue and yellow hives to makes sure they weren’t in the same situation.

The blue hive still has 3 absolutely full and heavy boxes of honey on top and in the middle of the top brood box I found lots of capped brood and some open brood so I went no further.

The yellow hive still had 2 absolutely full boxes of honey, and now has a 3rd full box on top. In the top brood hive, I spotted the queen, so I left them alone, too.

CHECKLIST:

I’ll be gone next week for work, but instead of waiting 3 weeks between inspections right now, I’m going to check on the other two hives food stores at least weekly.  Any time I find empty frames, I’ll go into the totes and replace them with frames that have honey/nectar.

With the bees building up for winter, they can go through a lot of food really quickly and if there’s no more food out there, I need to make sure they have enough.

This could be a fall when I have to feed the girls just to get them through, although I don’t think so. Between the honey bank and what I took off today, I have about 3 boxes of honey.

 

So that’s why I got a 3rd hive. In case one goes belly up, I still have two healthy hives instead of just one.

It’s still a bummer, but not devastating like it would have been my first two years.

 

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Aug 16 2015

Thank you girls

butternut squash in the making

butternut squash in the making

plums getting ready for picking, making chutney, jam, spiced plums, plum syrup...

plums getting ready for picking, making chutney, jam, spiced plums, plum syrup…

So here are some pics of literally the fruit of the girls labors. If it weren’t for my girls (and possibly a few visitors), I wouldn’t have this delicious stuff to eat.

Thank you girls.

gorgeous eggplant, almost too pretty to pick - almost

gorgeous eggplant, almost too pretty to pick – almost

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Aug 15 2015

Blue hive time for a peek

So today’s high was 79 degrees – yeaaaaa! I went out to inspect the hive at 9am when it was 68 degrees, which turns out was still about an hour late. All suited up, in the end, I still had sweat puddles on the inside of my glasses. But I did a little more work today.

Today was blue hive inspection.  I took out two sorting boxes, took out a big tote that had a box with 8 empty frames, and an extra big tote just in case.

Then I suited up, got my smoker going and went out to the deck.

The blue hive started out with 7 boxes, the top two above a queen excluder.

All in all, there were 27 full frames of honey, but most of them were not half capped off. There were 4 frames full of pollen; 3 boxes of bees; 7 frames of brood. I did not see Queen Siste Sjanse and I did not actually see any fresh eggs.  I did see quite a lot of uncapped brood and even just 3 day old tiny brood. But the bees were also so numerous they were just completely covering the frames and I was having a hard time seeing what was in the frames. So I’m not worried.

I went ahead and pulled 2 frames of capped honey and put these in storage.

I also pulled off 6 empty frames and put them in storage, thereby getting rid of one entire box on this hive. I then managed the hive down, by putting brood in the bottom two boxes with food on each side.

The end result is that this hive now has 6 total boxes, with the top two full of honey above the queen excluder and more honey below, with room for expansion still in the hive.

 

I then moved over to the yellow hive. They had so much honey the other day, I went ahead and removed 6 very overstuffed and fat frames of capped honey and 2 empty frames.

So I now have 8 full frames of capped honey in storage in the bee shed. For now, I’ll use this as my “honey bank”.  There is a LOT of honey still in the blue hive, if they’ll cap it off.

CHECKLIST:
Next week, I’ll inspect the orange hive and if there’s an excess of capped honey, I’ll remove it, too. I’ll just store this all until September and decide how much to put in the honey bank, how much should go back on the hives if they’re short for winter, and if I can extract any more honey.

 

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Aug 12 2015

Yellow girls are bringing home the bacon

perfect frame of capped brood. It's solid, but there are a few holes where they have selectively pulled out brood they didn't want - could be sick, could have mites.

perfect frame of capped brood. It’s solid, but there are a few holes where they have selectively pulled out brood they didn’t want – could be sick, could have mites. There’s honey in the corners for close feeding.

So it was going to be another scorcher today, in the high 90’s like the last 2 days. The yellow hive was on rotation this week.

I went out at 7:50am and it was already 78 degrees and sunny and the girls were out flying. I suited up, got two empty boxes for sorting and started my smoker with some pine chips and then stuffed in a piece of burlap.

I smoked the front door, and then under the roof, counted to 10 and popped the lid.

This hive started with 6 western boxes.

The girls were calm but very busy. There were all told about 15 frames of bees.

The top 3 boxes had no eggs or brood laid up. These girls are making and capping honey like crazy and the frames are super fat and lumpy and very heavy with honey.

There were 27 frames of honey, which is just over 3 boxes. There were 2 frames with pollen but a lot of the girls had dark hot orange pollen coming into the hive.

When I got down to the 3rd box, brood started to show up so I started sorting open and closed brood, looking very carefully to make sure I didn’t transport the queen to another box. There were 10 frames of brood which included 5 of closed brood and 5 of open brood. I saw a lot of fresh eggs, but did not spot Queen Freyja.

The bottom box was entirely full of empty, drawn out frames.

Here's the back end of a girl that just came in to the hive with very full bags of dark orange pollen

Here’s the back end of a girl that just came in to the hive with very full bags of dark orange pollen

So I managed everything down. The bottom box has open brood and food; the 2nd box has closed brood and food; the 3rd box has nothing but empty frames for expansion; and the top 3 boxes are full of honey.

I was sooooo tempted to pull some of those really fat frames of capped honey. They only need 2 full boxes of honey going into winter, but even though were in the city so people are still watering their gardens, we’re getting to the end of the blooming season and it’s so very hot and dry, I’m still concerned they may not find any new nectar to bring in. So I’m leaving them with this.

If in the middle of September, they still have scads of honey, I’ll pull some then, although it will be harder because they’ll be grumpy the closer it gets to winter.  But we won’t count our chickens or bees until they’re hatched.

You go, girls. Way to bring in the food and pollen.

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Jul 30 2015

Orange Hive inspection

Boy, I’m liking this new schedule of just doing one hive a week a LOT better than doing all three or even two at the same time. It’s so much more relaxed and I don’t get nearly as sweaty.

The high today was 96 so I got out in the hives at 9am when it was still 73 and by 9:45am when I finished it was up to 78. I went ahead and put on a wet d0-rag that that helped.

I took out two empty boxes for sorting.

I suited up, took out the boxes, took out a container for extra wax, and started my little smoker with pine chips and then stuffed in my burlap and got a good smoke going and “knocked” at the front door with a little puff of smoke.

Orange Hive

This hive started with 6 boxes – two above the queen excluder and four below.

DATA SYNOPSIS:

There were 17 frames of capped honey or nectar; 5 frames of pollen; plenty of bees (2 full boxes); 7 frames of brood, but 3 were capped, 2 were open and the other two just had about 1/4 of the frame with capped brood that was hatching out.  I did not see Queen Håper. I saw a good bit of 3 day old brood, tiny bitty little “C”s laying in milky solution, and I saw 2 fresh eggs, although I didn’t move the bees off all the uncapped brood.

I was able to remove an entire box of 8 drawn and entirely cleaned and empty frames.

There was brood in the 4th box (just under the queen excluder).

I sorted all the open brood into one empty box and all the closed brood into another. Then I managed them down, putting the open and some closed brood in the bottom with pollen and honey on the outsides, then the rest of the brood in the 2nd box with an empty frame in the middle and food on the outsides, then the other 3 boxes of honey and nectar and a few empty frames above.

So this hive ended with 5 boxes and a removed queen excluder (see below).

DIATRIBE:

So I’m a little concerned about the small amount of brood in this hive.  There were a few fresh eggs, and there were some 3 day old larvae, but not a lot of brood at all. I didn’t see the queen. On the other hand, the bees haven’t even made a queen cup so they aren’t looking to replace her.

And they had 5 packed frames of pollen, which tells me they’re stocking up to feed babies. And they have the amount of honey they’d normally go into winter with, and at least half of that was new nectar.

So they’re still doing fine and I’m not worried about their numbers. It just seems odd they aren’t building up more. We are having another record breaking year of heat and drought (although they’re finding nectar). I just read that brood production usually peaks in June and takes a downturn in July and August, so this might be normal.  It could be that after seeing the Italian hive, which is going like gangbusters, this just seems small.

I decided that this late in the season, with less bees and less brood in this hive, they’re probably not going to be making a lot of extra honey. They obviously ate through one box. So I removed the queen excluder and decided no matter what, I won’t pull any more honey this year from this hive. They can keep what they make. Therefore, I won’t care of the queen lays some up in the honey frames.

I guess I shouldn’t really be concerned. We’ll see how they do going into the fall.

It’s supposed to stay in the 90’s and high 90’s for the next week and there is no rain in the foreseeable future on the weather forecast. People are not watering their lawns but they are watering their flowers and veggies and trees. My bees are soooo much better off being in an urban environment than out in the fields reliant on crops that are done blooming or all dried up and nothing to irrigate.

Keep flying, little girls.

 

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Jul 24 2015

Blue hive inspection

So today was the day to inspect the Blue Hive with Queen Siste Sjanse.

I got out there right at 9am. It said it was 69 degrees, but after 30 minutes in that beesuit, it felt like 85.  HOWEVER, only doing one hive inspection is really great. I just start to really build up a sweat and had just started dropping sweat onto my glasses when it was over. If I had moved on to another hive, I would have been miserable.

I wanted to take a lot of time with this hive. But about 4 boxes in, I had to crush two wasps going into the hive. I went ahead and looked at every single frame, but I didn’t linger a long time, watching the girls working. It will only get worse as it gets closer to the fall, so inspections may have to be a little quicker.

This hive started out with 7 boxes total. 5 boxes, then the queen excluder, then 2 boxes on top of that.

LESSON:

I’ve learned after 6 years that this queen excluder actually works keeping the queen from laying brood in your honey. Every year, I have problems with lots of beautiful frames of honey and a little pocket of brood right in the middle. I never wanted to use an excluder because some of the OF’s call them “bee excluders”.  But it has worked fantastic this year on the two hive. No babies, nice frames of honey. And there are always bees in the frames above the excluder.

 

I had two boxes for sorting purposes, one for open brood and one for closed brood and I used them to sort. I did find brood on one frame in the 5th box, so Siste Sjanse would have moved up into the honey if there wasn’t an excluder.

Altogether, there were 14 frames of entirely capped off honey; 12 frames entirely full of new nectar brought in that they were starting to cap; 4 very packed frames of pollen; a few frames just being filled with nectar; a good 20 frames of bees; and 8 frames of brood (3 open and 5 capped).   I saw fat brood and teeny “C” brood curled up in royal jelly. I did not see the Queen and I did not see fresh eggs, but I was traveling a little fast by then because I’d spotted the wasps on the open brood.  However, I did see 3 day old larvae and there are no indications they’re making a queen, so I’m not worried.

Here’s a Video of the girls just working away on a frame full of capped brood 

And here’s a Video of the girls coming and going from the hive after inspection

All in all, I think the blue hive/Italian hive, is doing great.

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Jul 21 2015

Girls are enjoying July

girl on an orange zinnia

girl on an orange zinnia

girl flying over a pink zinnia

girl flying over a pink zinnia

So the girls are enjoying July. It finally got a little more “normal” temperature wise – high 80’s up to 90 every once in a while. Still no rain, but I’m watering the gardens like crazy.

 

The girls were out enjoying the veggies and the zinnias, along with a few friends (grasshoppers, a baby praying mantis, bumblebees, fat green beetles) and a few VSD’s not worth mentioning.

 

They’re busy giving me string beans, pinto beans, lima beans, lots and lots and…..lots of cucumbers and eggplants.

girl working on a cucumber blossom

girl working on a cucumber blossom

 

 

ridiculously huge monster of a bumblebee on a zinnia. This was a big as my thumb.

ridiculously huge monster of a bumblebee on a zinnia. This was a big as my thumb.

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Jul 16 2015

Yellow hive inspection

bees on open brood. In the middle left gap, you can see a cell with a fresh egg (looks like a little white piece of rice in the bottom of the cell). Then in the gap in the middle bottom, you can see little C shaped tiny larvae, floating in royal jelly, which are just a few days old

bees on open brood. In the middle left gap, you can see a cell with a fresh egg (looks like a little white piece of rice in the bottom of the cell). Then in the gap in the middle bottom, you can see little C shaped tiny larvae, floating in royal jelly, which are just a few days old

So I’ve decided I need to get myself and the girls on a regular schedule. So far, I tend to go out to look at one of the hives, and as long as I’m out there, I end up looking at all three. I end up hot and sweaty and tired and take 2 hours doing it.

So I’m going to inspect one hive per week, which at the shortest leaves 3 weeks between inspections for each hive, and if there’s a rainy week, then it will leave 4 weeks between inspections.

That’s better for the girls as they seem to do better when left alone. And then I can spend more time enjoying just one hive.

So today was YELLOW HIVE DAY. QUEEN FREYJA’S HIVE.

You can see capped brood on the right and then big, fat, pearly white larvae to the left of them

You can see capped brood on the right and then big, fat, pearly white larvae to the left of them

This hive started with 5 boxes, because I put one of the “wet” boxes after honey extraction on this hive, under the top honey box.

I got my smoker going with pine chips, then put in a strip of burlap. I had two empty boxes for sorting brood just in case I needed them (ended up I didn’t). I also took out a box for collecting wax.

There is a LOT of honey and nectar on this hive, basically the top two boxes.  The top box was entirely full  and heavy with honey, fat frames, nearly all capped.

The next box was the “wet” box given to them on Sunday night.  The cells were all cleaned out and dry, and every frame has some new nectar being brought in, with most of the frames about 1/2 full of clear nectar already. So the girls are getting it from somewhere.

The next box had honey, plus a little nectar and about 3 frames still basically bare, but being drawn out.

The last two boxes had all the brood and the queen. Since the queen had not started laying in the top 3 boxes and the bottom box was not full of empty frames, I didn’t do any management down of the brood.  I did manage the honey and nectar by putting the least full frames and half drawn frames just above the brood box, the next box is the formerly “wet” box with nectar but room for expansion, and the heavy honey box on top.

This gives Freyja room to expand up if she thinks she needs to.

Here's Queen Freyja with her big blue dot. She kept moving fast trying to get out of the sun so it was hard to get a focused picture

Here’s Queen Freyja with her big blue dot. She kept moving fast trying to get out of the sun so it was hard to get a focused picture

SYNOPSIS:

  • 5 boxes
  • 16 frames of bees, all friendly, busily working, not easily distracted, not grumpy in the least
  • a full side of one frame with pollen, otherwise all brood frames had a little pollen and capped honey in the corners around the large oval of brood, just like the textbooks say they should (Freyja must be a reader)
  • 23 frames of either capped honey or new nectar
  • 12 frames of brood including fresh eggs
  • Saw Queen Freyja in 2nd box from the bottom (top brood box), scuttling around looking healthy and trying her darndest to get out of the sun everytime I tipped the frame towards the sun so I could see  her.

BROOD:

The brood frames were all pretty perfect. Middle filled with capped brood or nearly filled with obviously some bees that had gotten free, then surrounded by fat pearly white brood, then surrounded by little floaters in royal jelly, then some fresh laid eggs, then honey and pollen in the corners.

These are the two sheets of wild honeycomb that the bees built on two different frames. They're already filled with honey and capped off

These are the two sheets of wild honeycomb that the bees built on two different frames. The sections that had nectar are already capped off, so they’re honey and the rest were dry and empty

WAX:

These girls have a weird gene when it comes to wax building. From day one, this hive has had wax all over the place. Bridging between the frames, all over the top bars, bridging the tops of frames to the bottom frames of the upper box, they keep making ridges of wax perpendicular to the frames in ridges.

I found two frames in which they had built a kind of bridge or extension with was from the top bar of the frame, so that the top bar was “thicker”, then proceeded to build a wild come curtain hanging down from this bridge. So I had a sheet or curtain of wild honeycomb, attached at the top to the frame, but then hanging down the side of the frame, with about 3/8 of an inch of space between the frame and the back wall of the honeycomb curtain. There were bees working the comb between the bare frame and the honeycomb curtain. Both of these curtains were filled with honey and capped.

I went to the shed, got one of the honey buckets with a filter and lid. I then carefully used my hive tool to cut the top of the curtain away from the top bar of the hive and was then holding a frame sides sheet of wild honeycomb with bees on both sides. It’s fragile, so I laid it down on the filter, brushing the bees on the bottom side away with my hand. I did the same with the other honeycomb sheet and brushed all the bees out and put the lid on. It would have been a mess if it ended up breaking off the frame in the hive – honey dripping all down through the hive to the bee deck, attracting predators.

I took these inside, crushed them and left them in the filter so the honey will drain out overnight and I’ll have a little bit more honey.

 

So Queen Freyja is doing great, laying great, the girls are hard workers, still bringing in nectar and making honey, but they have a penchant for wild honeycomb making.

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