Jun 30 2015
So it was 107 two days ago and the last two days hovering around 99 at our house. There is no end in sight for the next 15 days, with it getting back up into the 100’s by the weekend.
The Italian girls are bearding all the time now, especially in late afternoon and into the evening. I’m assuming they have a lot more bees in the hive.
I was going to wait to go out and check if I needed to pull honey and give them more room until it cools down, but that’s not going to happen.
So this morning at 7:15am it was only 79 degrees and I went out to check on the girls. I took out:
- 3 giant rubbermaid totes with lids, each will hold one western box
- my last 2 western boxes and 6 empty frames
- a receptacle for wax
- got out the soft bee brush
Previously, the orange and blue hive each had 4 boxes, then a queen excluder and then 3 boxes with honey (some with brood); and the yellow hive had just 4 boxes, the top two with some honey and some bare frames.
I started with orange and then moved to blue. On each hive, I smoked a little, then started at the top (I had to move the top box down because the hive is so tall, the top box is at my eye level). I culled through the top 3 honey boxes and sure enough, the queen excluder kept the queen from coming up and laying and made the girls concentrate on making honey.
Whenever I found a great frame of honey that was capped off, I pulled it, smoked it, gently brushed all the bees off the frame, then went and put it in the box in the tote with no bees left dangling and put the lid on the box.
After I got to the queen excluder, I started moving any brood I found down.
I saw both Queen Håper in the orange hive (her “spot” has worn off so she’s now just a dark brown Carniolan queen) and Queen Siste Sjanse in the blue hive (golden Italian) and found fresh eggs and brood in both hives.
There was a TON OF HONEY on both hives. There was at least 1 1/2 boxes of brand new nectar, not even started capping yet. And also tons of honey about 3/4 capped or honey in which the middle of the frame previously had brood so now they are cleaned out and filling it with nectar. There was also more than 4 solid frames of pollen in each hive.
I looked briefly at the yellow hive. They are bringing in a lot of nectar and still had just two boxes of honey on top with about 3 empty frames. I didn’t delve down into the bottom boxes to look for the queen or babies since they are still working and there are a very good amount of bees in the hive. This hive seems to be having trouble building wax in an organized fashion. There are rows of wax they’ve built perpendicular to the rows on the frames, in fat bars. There was an entire frame in which they had basically hung a wild curtain of wax from the top bar of the frame, paralleling the actual frame and filled it with nectar. So when I tried to lift it out, it started tearing away from the frame in a sheet. I put it carefully back in with a frame pushed up against it to hold it in.
I de-beed (by smoking a lot and thumping) a full box of honey from one of the other hives and moved it to the top of this hive to give them more food, and room to expand brooding up in the bottom boxes.
All in all, I pulled 17 very fat, heavy frames of capped honey from the two hives and put them in storage. This and moving a box to the yellow hive had me end up with the following configuration on the hives.
- Both orange and blue hives have 4 brood boxes, a queen excluder and then 3 boxes left of honey not capped off yet
- Yellow box has 5 boxes, brood so far in the bottom two, no queen excluder, and 1 full box of honey and two boxes of mixed nectar and wild comb
I got done about 8:50am and was absolutely drenched in sweat, with sweat pooling all over the insides of my glasses. I had to go in and take a completely cold shower.
CHECKLIST In two weeks, I’ll be ready to pull more honey. At that time, I’ll look at the next 15 day forcast. If it’s still in the 100’s for two more weeks and we’re in a drought, I’ll need to look to see if they are still bringing in new nectar. If they’re NOT, it will mean the nectar flow has stopped and I’ll leave most of the honey on the hives. If they ARE still bringing in new nectar, I’ll probably be able to pull another 16-30 frames of honey and still leave them with 16-20 frames of honey each, with a whole 8 weeks of summer still to go.
Then I’ll actually extract all the honey in storage and on the hives at that time and put the wet frames back on the hives.
Then later in the season (middle of August) I’ll look one more time to see if there is more honey to pull for the honey bank, how much to leave on the hive and if there is still more to extract.