Sep 27 2017

Now the rain is gone

So it rained basically solid for a week after the longest drought ever here. Then it quit over the weekend and it’s been getting slowly warmer and warmer each day – in the low 70’s and will be in the high 70’s by Friday.

I was hoping that there were still things in bloom and not everything had completely died and dried up because, if things are still in bloom, then that rain should have produced a ton of nectar. I was anxious to see if my girls actually were bringing in more food and nectar than they had on the last inspection.

They have certainly been zipping and sparkling in and out and over my yard every minute the sun’s been out this week. So they appear to be very busy and intent on going somewhere.

This morning at about 10am I noticed them flying and zipping like crazy so I went out to get through as many hives as I could in the now warm weather (turned out to be 2 hives – the sweat factor kicked in so I’ll do the third hive on Friday).

I went out and got two sorting boxes out to the beeyard, took all my tools out, took out my new notebook for writing observations in the yard that my niece gave me, took out a container for wax and propolis, and decided to start with the orange hive.

Orange Hive – Queen Dagmar

You can see Queen Dagmar is clearly carniolan with her chocolate brown body, long and full and svelte. She's surrounded by her little girls and is on a frame that has some new nectar and a lot of polished and cleaned cells

You can see Queen Dagmar is clearly carniolan with her chocolate brown body, long and full and svelte. She’s surrounded by her little girls and is on a frame that has some new nectar and a lot of polished and cleaned cells

So Queen Dagmar is a bought Carniolan queen and she’s doing quite fine.

I started up the smoker, put some burlap in and smoked the front door and under the hood and then gently opened up the hive.

The bees were not agitated and very busy. They were a little defensive, which I expected because it’s fall. They weren’t trying to sting me or anything but they did venture out to look at me in the face and spent some time buzzing around my head. Mostly, they just kept to business.

There was a lot of new, still quite liquid nectar in the hive. 16 full frames of nectar in all and 4 frames stuffed and heavy with pollen. So that’s more food than they had prior to the rain and the nectar frames are much heavier and fuller than the previous food frames before the rain. There were 8 frames of bees, which is more bees and 2 frames of capped brood and 3 frames of open and tiny brood with fresh eggs. I found Queen Dagmar in the 2nd box in the middle of the box.

There were 7 completely empty frames. I moved these up to the top box so the 2 boxes of honey would be close to the bees and brood and they can top off the food. I moved the queen down to the bottom box and surrounded her by brood and food.

I closed up the hive. Because the boxes got moved around, I had a different box on top than was previously on top and this one doesn’t quite seem to fit with the lid. I had to kind of bang the hive lid down to get it to sit flat. There is also a kind of gap between this 5th box and the 4th box which was making bees gather along this wide crack and try to get in the hive. They can’t get in, but they continue to gather and try so I finally put a big ol’ piece of duct tape across the crack.

here in dead center is a girl with just ginormous pollen bags on each leg. Notice how the edges of both of her wings are starting to shred - she's been busy all summer and will very soon end her days somewhere out in a field with little shredded wings. See the girls around her who have crisp, defined wing edges

here in dead center is a girl with just ginormous pollen bags on each leg. Notice how the edges of both of her wings are starting to shred – she’s been busy all summer and will very soon end her days somewhere out in a field with little shredded wings. See the girls around her who have crisp, defined wing edges

I then noticed that there was a LOT of kind of aggressive flying around the back of the orange hive and also underneath the screened board. This went on for quite some time, all the way to the end of the inspections and cleanup. I don’t know if having the hive open for that length of time this late in the season started to promote a little robbing situation with the bees next door (in the yellow and blue hives).  I watched for about 20 minutes and this activity continued only at this orange hive – not at all at either of the two other hives.  Here’s a video of the activity.  

I finally decided I wanted to calm them down so I put the shower head on the hose and basically made it rain down from on high over the orange hive for a good 5-7 minutes. That stopped the activity and it didn’t start up again.

Yellow Hive – Queen Sleipe

Sleipe is anything but svelte. Her body is bloated and has shield like segments. Notice the fluffy, small, gray bees to  her left - these are babies newly hatched out

Sleipe is anything but svelte. Her body is bloated and has shield like segments. Notice the fluffy, small, gray bees to her left – these are babies newly hatched out

These girls were also pretty busy and working hard, not agitated but not just calm and lazily working and gently humming like there were earlier in the summer.

There was also a lot of new and runny nectar in this hive. There were 17 frames of nectar, which is a lot more than prior to the rain, and 4 fat frames of pollen. There were 5 frames of capped brood and 2 frames of open and tiny brood and fresh eggs, which is more than last time. There were 8 frames of bees.

I found Queen Sleipe in the bottom box in the center, so I left her there and surrounded her with the brood frames. I moved the box that had 7 empty frames to the 5th position so the two honey boxes would be close to the girls.

I have no idea what Queen Sleipe is – she’s homemade. She is grossly huge, and striped like a tiger. She looks completely UN-Italian but she doesn’t look Carniolan either. And she’s just – huge.

this is a beautifully packed frame of pollen in sorts of oranges and yellows. You can see bits of bee bread in some cells that hasn't been packed down yard yet

this is a beautifully packed frame of pollen in sorts of oranges and yellows. You can see bits of bee bread in some cells that hasn’t been packed down yard yet

I started sweating and dropping a couple of drips on the hive, and the girls really do not like that. So I closed up the girls and I’ll work on the blue hive on Friday.

Here is a cool Slo-Mo video of the activity at the front door of the blue hive.

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