Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bees don't celebrate Father's Day, but I do!

So it has been a little while since I have updated. Let's just say that I waited on purpose to be able to show you real changes going on in the bee yard (or I went on a super awesome vacation!).


If you will remember, in early May, I added the first super to all the bees to get that honey flow rolling in. The hive on the right was rockin out: great brood pattern, I had actually seen the queen and she looked good, lots of brood= good things.  The hive on the left had some brood, but no young brood as far as I could tell. The pattern of the brood that was there was acceptable, but not the best. There were MANY less bees than the hive on the right. 

Mid-May, I left the queen cells in the left hive hoping they would make a new queen as I suspected the old one was gone. I also added a frame of brood from the hive on the right to the bottom box (I just switched out the frames, trying to leave all the bees in there original box). The hive on the right was filling up the super with honey, so I also switched a frame of honey to the left hive to even it out. 

Dad says the trick is to keep things strong, which is why it is best to have more than one hive. When you have more than one, you can take from the strong to strengthen the weak (I bet you would have never guessed my Dad is part Democrat ;). Political leanings aside, it's a smart idea.  He also thinks that for this same reason, it is good to have nucs at all times. I hope to be able to get at least one from what I have and try to winter it. That is a task for another day though. 

So after I did that, I went in to take a look. Low an behold, the left hive had made a queen. She was pretty new as far as I can tell, but I actually got to see her! Can you spot her?

But still, the right hive was much fuller than the left. I am at the front taking these pics so the left is on the right and vice versa. 

This is the right hive. Let's just say the left did not look like this really. 

Here are just some shots of some good brood, capped honey, and uncapped honey. Most of these are from the good hive.

So, let me tell you my concerns... I am sort of a perpetual cynic, so as soon as I saw one hive doing AWESOME, I thought that may come to an end. They were pretty full and I thought they may swarm. I was REALLY concerned when I looked out on day and saw this:

I am not sure if you can really see what is going on there, but you can tell there are a lot of bees at the entrance of the hive. They are also all wadded up in a ball hanging under the lip of the hive.  I was very concerned as I thought this was a sign that they may swarm. So I called the Bee Man to report what was going on. Turns out, this is called "Bearding". Yep, kind of like a beard of bees that you see on those crazy people who put bees on their face. They do this when it is hot. So, what I did to help give them a little ventilation was to raise up the super and put a stick between it and the hive body. That created just a tiny gap for some air to get through. I also laid the feeding jar down partially covering the hole at the top to give them more air. I have since removed the feeding jars (no reason to feed if the box is full of food for them) and have put the bricks with the holes over the feeding hole. This allows for ventilation and also keeps the rain out for the most part. 

So after my super awesome vacation, 

(This is a honey dispenser at Pike's Market in Seattle)

I came back with a few supplies. I thought maybe I would have to put another super on at least the one on the right. I decided not too, as the Bee Man pointed out, the honey flow is over, so they should not be filling anything up right now. I may keep that around till Fall in case we get some Fall honey here (you get honey flow when the bees are able to bring in food, or rather, things are blooming. When things aren't blooming, they have nothing really to bring in). 

I took a look at the girls today and what do you know... I think my cynicism was a self-fulfilling prophesy. I think the hive on the right swarmed and the one on the left got strong. Take a look:
Remember the right is on the left... I am going to have to paint these boxes. Right and left is getting confusing. 

Even a little bearding going on today. Trust me, today I would have bearded too if it would cool things off a bit. 

This is just some pretty capping. 

So this is a picture from the back of the hives, so the left is really on the left and the right is on the right. You can see NOW the left is pretty full and doing well. The right is doing just fine, but it is just not as full so I guess some of the girls high tailed it out of here. As the Bee Man says, we are just contributing to good feral stock (good for our mating queens). Both hives have some brood and it looks pretty good (not as much as a month ago though) and both have pretty full supers of honey. It seems as though everything is going ok.  I will check again in a couple of weeks to see how things are going and what they need for the heart of summer. 

In other bee news, my lovely friend Connie made me the most awesome pillow ever! Thank ConCon! You are the best!

And I found out that bees can in fact sting through gloves. If you grab one of those critters the right way, they can get you through the glove. 

In other news, today is Father's Day and I sure wouldn't be the Bee Man's Daughter if it weren't for the Bee Man. So I want to tell my Daddy Happy Father's Day! I miss you very much and hate that I am not home for father's day. But I made sure to go out and to share in the the thing that you have taught me to love. Thank you for teaching me everything I know and showing me how to live with passion. I love you!

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