First Full Inspection of Host Hive for 2016

The last time I came out to the host hive I inspected a little, but the main reason for my visit was to add more empty bars for them. I have been so happy that they made it through the winter and are growing quickly. This visit was to do a complete inspection of the hive. It was a little on the cooler side today, but the bees did not seem upset about it. The were mostly calm while I was inspecting their hive. This colony tends to be very picky about when I inspect them, so I was happy that they were not angry with me.

During this visit I went through each bar and looked at everything. One of my main concerns now is the possibility of swarming. With this queen making it through the winter, I don’t want to lose her. I am hoping to come up with a plan to split the hive before they can swarm. The reality is that honey bees are wild animals and they will do what they want to do. I am not going to interfere with the process in a way that can harm them. If I split them, it will only be if they are in good condition for it.

I did come across two queen cups, but they were both empty. The bees are busy preparing for spring and summer. There is a good amount of drone brood in the hive. The queen has a good laying pattern for both drone and worker brood. I did not actually see eggs, but there was a lot of larvae at different stages of development. Sometimes it can be difficult to see eggs in the comb with the way the lighting is at this hive.  I had this same problem last year.

Last year I did something that I should not have done though. When I could not see the eggs, I would take the bar with the comb and walk away from the hive to get different lighting. The issue with this was the possibility that the queen could fall off of the comb and land on the ground. If she is on the ground it increases the probability of her getting stepped on. I was very lucky not have that happen, but this year I am much more cautious.

I am also much better at spotting the queen now. I have been able to spot queens pretty quickly these days and I saw her on one of the newly built combs. Since I was able to spot her, I was not as concerned about not seeing the eggs. There was a lot of brood in the hive and everything else looked really good.

While watching the bees, I was relieved to see that they are no longer using the raised divider board as a door. They had all gone back to using the hole that is actually their entrance. It was nice to see that there wasn’t much activity on the side of the hive with the observation window. Now we could look in the window without worrying as much about the bees getting defensive.

I went through the entire hive this time and there were no signs of dysentery inside. My plan is to just keep an eye on them and see how things go. There wasn’t a lot on the outside of the hive either, but as a new beekeeper I have my concerns. From what I have read, a strong colony can get through a bout of dysentery without any intervention.

The bees still have a decent amount of honey is the hive. They are bringing in pollen and nectar and they have some good stores. If I am lucky, I will get to enjoy some of the honey from them this year. I will only the it if they have more than enough. But I am curious to taste it! The two hives from my yard last year each had honey that was very different in taste, so it will be interesting to taste the honey from the host hive.

I will have to be out here again soon to check on the hive. They are growing quickly and I want to make sure they have plenty of space to continue to do so. I am also going to need to keep an eye on the possibility of swarming, but let’s hope that I can convince them to stay!

Hurray for the Host Hive!

It’s after the middle of April and the host hive bees seem to be going strong! I have been told by many beekeepers that we can’t be sure that the bees have made it through the winter until May. I am optimistic though. The colony seems to be growing well and they are very active. The next step that I need to take is to add more empty bars in the hive.

On April 18th I went over to the hive to check in on them and add three empty bars. Before I could get into the hive, the hay bales had to be moved. After that I spent some time watching the bees at their entrance. The entrance reducer had fallen out of the entrance hole, so I picked it up and decided that they didn’t need it. The bees were very active and bringing in lots of pollen.

The bees had also been using a small gap at the top of the divider board as another entrance. They were going in and out freely from the side of the hive with the observation window. I don’t really want the bees using that side of the hive as their door. Having them there makes using the observation window almost impossible. I am going to have to figure out how to make the divider board fit more securely into the hive.

Once the hive was opened, the first thing that I did was to remove the feeder with honey and the candy block. The bees had not touched the honey, but they did eat a little of the candy block. I was happy to know that the bees had plenty of honey to get them through the winter.

Then I opened the hive to check in on the bees. The colony is growing and there is still honey left for them to eat. The colony had 16 bars and I added 3 more for them to continue to grow. The first thing that I tried to do was to scrape the propolis off of the window and the divider board to try to make the divider board fit better into the hive. I got it down at little bit, but I don’t think that it is enough. I will have to work on it again during the next inspection.

The last bar that I was inspecting, the comb broke off. I seem to be doing that a lot lately! Rachel got a plastic bag and we got the bees off of the comb and put it into the bag. The comb did not have any brood, it had some honey in it. I gave the comb to Rachel for her family to enjoy.

When I looked around the outside of the hive I noticed something that looked like dysentery. There were no signs of it inside the hive. I will do some more research into it and keep an eye on things. I hope that it isn’t anything serious. Other than that the colony looks good. They are expanding quickly and very active. I will check them again soon to see if I need to add more bars for them.

Peeking in
Peeking in
Looking at the bars
Looking at the bars
Dysentery?
Dysentery?
Raised divider
Raised divider
Opening the hive
Opening the hive
Comb that was stuck to the divider board
Comb that was stuck to the divider board
Honey!
Honey!

Broken Comb

In my most recent blog post I had forgotten to mention that when I was checking in on the queens one of the combs in the Orchard hive broke. After I finished installing the bees into the Orchard hive the comb must have fallen off of the bar that I had hung the queen cage on. So when I was checking on the queens I found that the comb had been reattached to the divider board that was next to it. The bees are very able to take care of things.

I knew that I was going to need to get back into the hive in order to scrape the comb off of the divider board. I decided that I would take care of it the next time that I was there to check on the queens. I wanted to make sure that I had a plan in place and supplies that I would need.

On April 16th I went back to the hive to scrape off the comb from the divider board of the Orchard hive. I also checked on the queen in the Willow hive. Both of the queens had been released into the colonies. The Willow hive was in good order and did not need any adjustments.

The Orchard hive needed more of my attention. I brought a bag to put the comb in and I planned to use my hive tool to scrape the comb off of the divider board. I took some time to look at the comb and how it was attached to the divider board. The comb was not completely attached to the divider board, so there were bees on both sides of it.

I started scraping the comb very slowly, I did not want to hurt the bees that were on it. I also did not want the comb to just fall off of the divider board. It did not take very long since it was only attached at the top of the comb, but I did end up taking the lives of a few of the bees. One of the bees was larger than the others and I was not sure if it was the queen or not. I did not want to tear through the hive again and disrupt the bees. I closed up the hive and decided to check it again soon.

Of course, I was up all night thinking about the bees. Mostly I was worried that I had squished the queen. I decided that I needed to inspect the hive that day. Once it warmed up enough in the morning, I went out to Old Frog Pond Farm to check on the Orchard hive. I needed the answer to the question that had kept me up through the night.

I went through the hive slowly and carefully. The only bee that I was looking for was the queen. I was so happy when I found her. It was such a relief to know that I had not harmed the queen, but I was sorry that I had harmed any bees in the process. I closed up the hive and breathed a sigh of relief.

Willow Hive
Willow Hive
Foraging
Foraging
Orchard Hive
Orchard Hive
Looking Good
Looking Good
Returning Home
Returning Home
Guarding the Door
Guarding the Door
Bringing in Pollen
Bringing in Pollen