The Tardis hive seems to be real active and healthy. Time to tear it down and see how things are really going. While I have observed what I think are good quantities of wet brood and capped brood, I haven’t found the queen the last couple of times I’ve done an inspection. Today’s plan was to see if there was enough brood to steal a frame to reinforce the Misty NUC (which has had back-to-back brood breaks due to queen supercedure). Chris, the queen breeder from H. T. Krantz said that he does not mark his queens because they are so hygienic that they clean off the marking. Sounds like marketing to me, but I did mark here at my first opportunity. Time will tell.
Before taking a frame of brood for Misty, I wanted to be absolutely and positively sure that the Tardis queen was not on the frame that I was transferring. The only way I could think of to be positive would be to find and cage the queen before taking the frame.
So here she is, caught in a queen clip before the transfer. You can see her marking at the leftish bottom of the clip. Looks just like it did when I marked her. No wear and tear no the marking yet. While I did find her rather easily (on the 20th frame that I looked for her on) I have to remember that I did not see her on my two previous inspections of this hive. I’m having second thoughts about using white markings, but I’m not sure what would work better. I might try emergency green next year.
Tardis looks to be in great shape. Lots of stores and brood in the two deep brood boxes. About half of the frames in the medium super on top are built out in wax and they are storing phony honey (from sugar syrup) there. I felt real comfortable taking a frame of brood for the Misty NUC.
I put the frame of brood in the middle of the new upper brood chamber (5 over 5 frames) to draw more of the Misty bees into the upper box to get them started on building it out with Winter resources. The other side of the frame only has about half the capped brood that this side does. It will be interesting to see if they follow my plan:)
The little NUC that I split off of the “Bees Rules” hive with a couple of the supercedure cells raised a new queen in July. After she had laid up all of the available space in the NUC, the bees – once again – sperceded her. Not sure if it was a problem with the queen or if I may have accidentally killed her (or if she may have been killed in a robbery). Anyhow, that was on July 20th and I figured that if the new queen was going to bee bred she should bee there by now.
Finding a queen is a lot easier in a NUC than it is in a big hive with supers and multiple brood boxes. Found her on the second frame and took the opportunity to mark her to make the job easier next time. Not a lot of larvae to be seen yet, but she is just starting out. I’ll need to keep the feed on this NUC through the fall. I did add a second five frame NUC on top with foundation two days ago. If they can build all of that out they might actually make it through the Winter.
Took a look at the Utah hive (really just a NUC in an eight frame brood box with a medium of foundation on top). They are building up resources. They have a lot more pollen stored than I have seen in the other hives. They have a couple of heavy frames and are building wax in the medium on top. I’ll keep the feed on them until they have built out all of the frames or it gets too cold for them to make wax.
One of the current problems that bee keepers are having relates to low hive survival rates, particularly over the Winter. A lot of hobbyist bee keepers just accept the losses and buy replacement bees in the Spring. I think I need a more sustainable approach.
I would prefer to just have one single beehive. Unfortunately, it seems that you need to keep at least two to allow reinforcement of week hives and moving bees out of crowded hives to reduce the risk of swarming.
With my recent experience in getting the bees to make new queens, I have decided that using what I learned in the process I should be able to cover normal winter hive losses by running a couple of small (NUC) hives just for bee and queen building. This would allow me to breed my own queens for annual replacement as well as providing insurance hives to cover me if one of my main hives succumbs to winter. I have most of the woodenware (and bees) to do this, so I guess I have a plan.
The plan then, is to go into Winter with two hives and two NUCs. If I do well (no losses) I will have two hives ready to take advantage of our Maryland Spring nectar flow. If only half survive I can populate the main hive losses by moving the NUCs over and have a great start on our short spring nectar flow with built out comb without having to buy bees and wait.
If the NUCs survive I will unstack the boxes making four 5 frame NUCS, place an “egg layer” frame in the best hive. Once it has fresh eggs (larvae less than three days old) I will move the frame into a queenless NUC and let the bees there make new queens. These will then bred in the four NUCs and the best two will be used to replace the queens in the main hives later in the year (June or July).
I’ll move the old queens from the main hives into the NUCs (pinching the queens there) and restack the NUCs to build for the following winter.
Need to catch up here a bit. Had a bit of excitement this summer. I tried to replace the queen in my “Bees Rules” hive. The process had gone so smoothly in the Tardis hive that I actually thought I knew what I was doing. Wrong! Went into the “Bees Rules” hive a week after changing the queen and there were supercedure cells everywhere!! No queen to be found! Seems the bees didn’t agree with my choice.
Pulled a frame with cells, a capped brood frame, and a resource frame and tossed them in a five frame NUC. Then I patiently waited a couple of weeks to see if they could raise a queen or two of their liking.
Checked both the original hive and the NUC once the cells had time to hatch, harden and get bred. Eggs and larvae in every available cell in both boxes.
New queen in the “Bees Rules” box is kicking butt. The little NUC, however, is a different story. Either the bees there didn’t like their hyper productive new queen, or I damaged her doing the inspection. There were about a half a dozen supercedure cells and no queen to be found when I did the hive inspection with a plan to mark the new queen. This was on the 27th of July. This is rather late in the summer for the hive to get their new virgin queen out in time to get bred.
I’ll probably end up having to combine the NUC back into the “Bees Rules” box in the fall but for now I’m being optimistic that they can build up before then to the point that they can make it through the winter.
New queen in “Bees RUles”
So I have a hive and a NUC that are in the process of creating their own queens from supercedure cells. Counting back in the queen calendar from when I first noticed the capped queen cells there should be eggs in the hives today if the virgin queens were successful in their nuptial flights.
I have not been able to see new eggs on a frame (yet). In an effort to address this shortcoming I decided that I need to try taking digital photographs that I could enlarge and review on my computer. I haven’t used my digital camera for a couple of years so the project started out digging through drawers and cabinets to get a camera and tripod for the effort.
Got through the ‘Misty’ NUC without a problem, although trying to operate a camera with my hive gloves on was not the best of experiences, and the propolis!! I got half way through the “Bees Rules” box and the battery on the camera died. Gurrr…
Well, I had what pictures I had and this was mostly an experiment anyway, so I buttoned the hives back up and headed inside to take a look at the pictures.
It seems that I had grabbed an older Canon digital camera that uses the large format CF cards. I didn’t have a CF card reader for this form factor. I tried doing an USB connection with the camera to get to the pictures. Four hours later I figure out that the drivers for the camera don’t work with Windows 10. GURRR…
Order CF card reader on Amazon and wait…
Looks like I got eggs!! Why are these so easy to see in pictures, but are invisible to the eye???
In fact, it seems that every available cell on every built out frame had eggs in them. Quite a few actually had more than one egg in the cell, but the eggs were attached to the bottom (not the sides) of the cells. It would seem that both the main hive and the NUC had successfully made their own queens.
About this time, my wife points out that we have a cute little Nikon digital camera that is more modern than the Canon with a lot higher resolution. Different camera next time!
Well, I figured that the 4th of July would be a good day to dig into the “Bees Rules” hive to catch and mark the new queen from Snyder’s. Three frames into the first brood box I ran into a frame with several capped supercedure cells. I very carefully and thoroughly inspected every frame to see if the supercedure cells were just a knee jerk reaction on the part of the hive, but I could not find the queen.
Obviously, the bees did not like the new queen from Snyders!! Further in, I found three other frames with supercedure cells. At this point, I’m thinking that I need to let the bees do this on their own.
I pulled an eight frame deep that I was using for a trap and moved the frames from the “Misty” NUC into the trap (with three new frames of foundation). I took two frames of brood (with supercedure cells), 1 of resources and two frames of foundation and created a new “Misty” NUC. I left the other frames with supercedure cells in the “Bees Rules” box and filled the empty slots with foundation. I’m figuring that splitting the supercedure cells up this way will double my odds of actually getting a mated queen out of the effort.
If I only get one queen in the deal I can recombine the boxes back into the “Bees Rules” hive. If they both fail?? IDK.
Time to wait and watch…
Checked the “Bees Rules” hive to see if the new queen had been released. Fondant was cleaned out in the queen cage and the queen was not in it. Looks like she is out with her new minions.
I pulled two ratty frames from the “Tardis” hive that I’ve wanted to get out of the hives for a while and put them in the “Misty” NUC (swapped them with two frames of foundation). These were about 50% covered in capped brood so this should beef up “Misty’s” odds of surviving.
This was actually the first time that I tried wearing gloves to work on the hives. I have been stung on the fingers a few times before now and thought I would try them out. I’m thinking that the gloves are a good idea, but they sure get messy. Real sticky with propolis. I’ll need to figure out how to clean these before they become a regular part of my hive apparel.
The open feeding experiment that I started earlier in the week seems to have increased my robbing problems. I built cages to go over the hole in my inner covers that I could fit the entrance feeder under. This should allow me to use them as a top feeder without letting the bees loose in a super above the hive.
The two main hives (Bees Rules and Tardis) seem to be taking a little less than a quart of syrup per day. They must be storing it as I’m not seeing a lot of new wax, but the brood production seems to still be pretty good.
Made a ‘poke holes in the lid’ quart feeder for Misty and set it on a piece of #8 mesh on the inner cover hole.
Picked up a new queen from Snyder’s. I’m a bit pissed that she was not marked. Snyder’s web page says that ALL of their queens are marked.
I couldn’t bring myself to pinch the original queen from Kevin. I Polled one frame of resources, 1 frame of 30% capped brood, and 1 frame of mostly built out wax, added two frames of foundation and created the ‘Misty” NUC around the original queen. We’ll see how this one goes…
I’m a bit pissed at Brushy Mountain. I bought a NUC top feeder to use in exactly this situation. So now its time to put the feeder on top of a NUC and guess what? It does not fit!! Not only does it not fit under a super (to protect it) but because the length of the risers on the feeders is the same as the outside dimensional length of a standard langstroth hive there is not enough space for the bees to get up into the feeder. This product needs to be pulled from the market!!
I got into the Tardis hive to verify that it was queen right and that the new queen was laying. Lots of wet larvae in the top box. Found the queen (still marked) in the bottom box. While I had the queen in a clip I trimmed back the two frames of fat comb in the bottom box with a serrated knife. This process really got the bees excited. I need to remember to smoke them hard the next time I have to do this.
I put the new queen from Snyder’s in the top box of the “Bees Rules” hive, between two frames of untouched foundation (after the fact this may have been a real bad placement for a new queen. Should have been between frames of larvae/capped brood).
I have been feeding the hives using plastic entrance feeders. I think that I’m seeing some robbing because of this (trimming honey comb in an open hive probably didn’t help either). Pulled the entrance feeders and set them in the open in front of the hives.
Still waiting to hear from Snyder’s on when they will have a June queen ready for me to replace my original queen. In the mean time, the Tardis hive seems to be progressing well. The bottom brood box has five frames of mostly (20-50%) larvae and capped brood. There is a lot more drone brood than I would like to see, but the bees know what they want.
The top brood box is being built out with four of the frames of foundation either fully or mostly built out comb. Four of the frames are still untouched, but the hive is still new and it takes time to build up the worker population.
Caught the queen in the bottom brood box with my spiffy one handed queen catcher and marking plunger. Added a white mark and let her back into the hive. The bees were not too happy with her when I released her into the hive. I hope they don’t reject her.
I didn’t inspect the “Bees Rules” hive this time. Catching and marking my first queen was enough excitement for one day.
Note: It is a lot more work to inspect two hives than one little hive.
In the Tardis
Earlier in the week (June 3rd) I got into the Tardis hive to see if the new queen had been released. She was still in the queen cage, but the bees seemed to have accepted her. Not knowing that there is a cork in both sides of the queen cage I popped the staple that was holding the screen and released her into the hive. She is a lot darker than my other queen. I sure hope I can find her later to mark her.
The guy at Krantz told me that her line is extremely hygienic and that if I marked her the bees would clean the paint off. We’ll see. I’m thinking that he just doesn’t want to deal with the risk of the additional handling and having the mating hive accept her with the paint on.
While the queen was in the cage the rest of the hive was pretty busy building wax and collecting nectar and pollen. I added the second brood chamber.
Two of the frames in the bottom box have had the wax built too wide to properly squeeze the frames back together. I’ll have to figure out how to trim these back down to keep the bee space under control with these.
Bees Rules Hive
I’ve decided that I really suck at finding bee eggs. There is lots of capped brood in areas that I thought were nectar storage. There are a few frames of foundation in this hive though that the bees don’t seem to want to have anything to do with. Most notable are the all plastic frames and the ‘plastic green drone’ frame. I pulled these frames that the bees don’t seem to loke and painted them with melted bees wax. It will be interesting to see it that makes the difference.