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Updates on our two hives


#1

Update on Hive 1, which was hived 18 days ago:

May 16, 2013

Went out to check on the bees and see how they are doing. It’s been 18 days since they were hived. We’ve not had a repeat of finding a bunch of dead bees on the floor, so that’s a good thing. The colony population has dropped quite a bit, but we realize that is going to happen when you don’t have brood emerging during the first three weeks. We’ve never found the queen, but we haven’t looked all that seriously for her. Didn’t think we needed to as the bees are happy and we now have lots of capped brood! We expect a population explosion next week!

The bees are still taking syrup. I think that they’ll be able to start capping honey in a few days as well.

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Look at that almost solid wall of brood! We may not have seen her since we hived her, but that queen is doing great!

Other notes: When I opened the top I found in the non-used side of the hive some of those very large black ants. We got them out, but they were back soon after we closed the hive.

We’ve had a problem with our hives rocking back when we opened the lid. I purchased some pre-made wood shims and inserted them between the tops of the stand legs and the hive. I had considered securing the hive to the stand, but I like this better.

I’m going out of town tomorrow. I’m looking forward to coming home next week to a larger colony!

Update on Hive 2, hived 11 days ago:

We decided to go into the hive today to check for cross comb and things in general after 11 days. A few observations were made: First, the package itself was larger than our first one. Second, the bees in the package appeared to be larger than the bees in the first package. Third, this colony has made much larger combs than the first package.

We have been checking on the hive from time to time, of course. One issue we’re having with this hive has been with wasps inside the lid. The first time we found them there were two with the beginnings of nests being built. Since then we’ve not had the beginning of nests, but we’ve still had one or two in there whenever we’ve opened the hive. There were two today. Rhonda, since she was wearing gloves, grabbed and killed both of them.

We do see some capped brood, somewhat randomly scattered. We saw the same thing with our other hive (or my wife did—I didn’t have the opportunity to get into the hive when she did.) Another week and I imagine it will look like the other one.

Photos:

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Large comb…

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Big clump of festooning bees hanging from this one…

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And we did see the queen in this one. The fact she’s marked helped! 

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Oh, and after we’d closed up the hive and had been away for a bit, I returned to cut off the extra length of the cargo strap we use to make sure the hive can’t be blown over. While I was loosing the strap a lone bee decided she didn’t want me messing with it, landed on my hand, and delivered my first sting. I watched her pull it clear of herself, scraped it off, and proceeded. Interestingly, I had a feeling I was going to be stung this time just by the sound of her “buzz” as she came in.


#2

Hive 1 May 23, 2013 Day 25

Today Rhonda and I went out to assess things, expecting to see some changes in the hive. Looking through the window we see about seven combs, but not necessarily a lot more bees. Of course, that would be due to the ongoing losses as our package ages out.

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Opening the hive we found we still have carpenter ants. I’d put a plastic container with the jelly/water/boric acid mix at the base of one of the trees they are living in and after a day one inside the hive itself. Looking down into the hive, among the ants I saw bee parts. Not good. I decided I would spray where they are nesting in the trees, since the bees don’t go around the base of the trees.

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We went looking through the comb. We found lots of empty brood cells…

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…and an emerging bee! (Sorry about the slightly blurry shot; I need more practice using my camera while wearing a veil.

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We spotted the queen (Queen Bea, named by our granddaughter whose middle name is Beatrice). Can you spot her?

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Here she is again! This was the first time we spotted her since we released her into the hive. We hadn’t been looking hard for her, though, because it was obvious we had a great queen in there!

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This hive has very few capped drone brood, but we do see a lot of drones from the original package so I think that’s why—they feel they have enough drones for now. It is also a very calm hive. We generally do not need to use smoke and nothing seems to bother them. We’re pretty happy with them.

Hive 2 May 23, 2013 Day 18

This package, which started out with a lot more bees than Hive 1, continues to be much larger than Hive 1. At some point we’ll see some population drop off, I’m sure. I’ve seen some minor bearding around the entrance on a couple of warm evenings recently, so I opened another entrance for them the other day. Rhonda doesn’t think this colony likes her; she said she went out without her gear to lower the lid the other day (she’d left it open after checking on the bees and killing a wasp) and was chased away by a couple of persistent bees who followed her to the house. Later she said they came after her while she was mowing a little ways away from the hive, so when I went out to weed-whack around and under the hives I put on my jacket and veil. They ignored me. :-) But as I’ve told her, some of the bees in the package may have come from a slightly more defensive hive than the rest. In reality in a few weeks we’ll have a colony that’s entirely from this queen and we’ll learn then what her colony’s temperament will be like.

One other thing about this colony, though, is that they tend to use a lot more propolis than Hive 1.

So we decided to check in on the today. Still a lot of bees in there:

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We find that the queen has been filling in the gaps we saw the last time we took stock of things:

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We saw quite a bit of capped drone cells. Rhonda was concerned, but there were no queen cells and I reassured her that a colony building natural comb 15-20% of brood will be drones.

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This hive’s comb is much larger than Hive 1’s comb, going wall to wall and bar to floor—without being connected to the walls, I may add. This comb is filled with lots of capped brood, with a large layer of pollen, and capped by capped honey. Beautiful!

HIve2MAy23201319Largecombfilledwithbroodpollencappedhoney.jpg

Check out the multicolored pollen!

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And Queen Libby (named by our other granddaughter who was studying Queen Elizabeth in school) can be found on this comb:

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So that’s it for now. Both hives seem to be right on track. Hive 1 needs to strengthen up a bit. Hive 2 remains strong, and it appears that it will continue to be a strong colony. We’re looking forward seeing how they do!