Tuesday, June 2, 2015

cabin fever

It rained here, hard, for three days straight.  I know from more knowledgeable beekeepers that if a hive is going to swarm, when the hive's current queen and half of the hive's workers pack up and leave the hive to look for a new home, it is likely to do so on a warm sunny day following a few days of rain.  They get grand ideas and act all wonky when kept inside with thousands of their little friends.  I had seen it happen inside our own home during a particularly robust game of Twister.  

And so, we were making preparations.  We knew we needed to finally get our swarm trap back up in the grove of trees near the beeyard.  And I knew I needed to take a look inside the hives as soon as it stopped raining and was warm enough for me to open the hives up.  To make sure that the two new queens I had put in my original hives were laying.  And I needed to be sure that the two new split hives had enough food and that their population looked strong enough.

First, while it was still raining, we reinstalled the swarm trap.  

Love is...being willing to head down the hill to the beeyard when you have just gotten home from work, are still in your work clothes in fact, and climb up a 20 foot ladder and heft a heavy box up into a tree.  Don't you think? 

That deed done, I glanced over at the beeyard in the drizzle.  And promised to visit them the next day.

Next morning, the rain had stopped.  And I gave the area a haircut before I got started, having exploded with growth from the moisture after weeks of dry.

I moved from right to left.  My nucleus colony looked good.  The queen was laying and I found brood of all stages and a good solid cluster of bees, but the hive was still a bit low on honey, so I gave them some sugar syrup.  

My split into a full sized hive looked to be doing well also.  They had eaten all the syrup I had given them during the rain, and they were becoming well stocked, full even with developing brood and honey and pollen stores.  

There were some crazy beautiful hues of nectar being stored in that hive.

And there was a good supply of capped brood.

And I spotted the queen in that split laying away, her attendants following her around, circling her, caring for her.  She is in the center of the image below, long abdomen, no fuzz on her thorax.

Below, her abdomen is curled into a cell, laying an egg.

I popped another box on top of that hive for them to continue to grow into.

Then I checked in on the two donor hives, which I had requeened a few weeks ago.  I spotted both queens, below, with the blue dots.

And found eggs, the white flecks in the bottoms of the cells in the center.

And larva of all sizes.

And these two hives were building up their honey stores as well.  Honey is being capped in the image below.

In one of these hives, I found a well developed, capped, and therefore soon to be hatched queen cell.  I removed it, because I had just requeened these hives with beautiful new queens.  And we don't need any of that two queens dueling it out nonsense going on in there.  Or one of my new queens getting the idea to take half my hive and go rogue.

Long story, I have one deep (larger than my other medium depth frames) frame in the hive, given to me when I purchased a queen last year and I can't find the right time to switch it out because it is always filled with capped brood every time I try.  The bees had filled the space below it where it hangs into the hive box below it with newly formed comb.  With all the new comb building, feeding, honey production, brood rearing and queen raising going on in there, it seemed the hives had developed a bit of cabin fever during the days of rain that had kept them indoors.  

But despite the fact that they seemed a bit cooped up and ready to be back out flying and foraging, it all looks pretty good down there.  I closed them all up and stood back.  And watched them fly in the sun.

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