The heat continues and the bees love it. Many of you have noticed how active all 6 hives are, which of course is great. We now have more protective gear, so please make plans with me to check out a hive. It is entirely safe and just fascinating to see up close what they do.
We’ve inspected all 6 hives in the last month – two Saturday (Thanks Dennis, Gary, Mara and Anna!) and two last weekend (thanks Dennis and Lorraine!). Some interesting findings, so here goes.
Hive #1 (SE corner, and the tallest) – this hive is doing fantastic, and the best of all. It was a nuc purchased this April and the bees are producing fabulously. Look at all this honey:
Unfortunately some comb was bridged to the deep and we didn’t realize it until too late. Raising the frame did spill a lot of honey but the bees cleaned it up. You can see it literally dripping off the bottom of the frame below.
The top box is called a ‘super’, and that is strictly for excess honey. Right now, the super does not have much activity in it. It is unusual to harvest honey the first year, but possible. We estimate this hive weighs about 60 pounds, so it should be set going into the fall (we want 60-80 pounds in each hive for them to survive the winter – they consume the honey for energy, shivering all winter so they can keep the queen warm).
We physically reset hive #2(NE) which was starting to lean a bit as the wood chips settle. This winter we plan to reset all hives so they are more stable. We’ll excavate the wood chips and set the cinder blocks directly on dirt so they don’t settle. We’ll also buy more cinder blocks and stack them higher so the hives are higher off the ground. That way we won’t have to bend over so much. This hive was a ‘package’ started in May and we estimate it weighs 40 pounds. Hopefully the bees continue storing away honey but we may have to feed them in the Fall to supplement if their weight is insufficient.
Hive #3 (SM) is the one that wintered over from last year and then we split. This hive seems to be doing well and also weighs in at about 40 pounds.
Hive #4 (NM) is the 2nd nuc we purchased, but it has had a couple of setbacks, so it is not doing as well as Hive #1. In May, it had no queen for 3 weeks. In addition, we saw evidence of chalk brood a month ago (Thanks Devin and Perry for the help in finding/diagnosing). Chalk brood is a fungus (http://www.dave-cushman.net/
Hive #5 is the split we made from Hive #3. It also did not get a queen until June 1, so it too is a little light at 30 pounds, but better than hive 4. It’s bee population is growing and hopefully it too adds more honey in the next two months. We’ll keep a close eye on it, and may likely need to feed it in the Fall. We did see debris on the bottom so we investigated and it looks like wax cappings, perhaps from the bees moving honey around – see below.
Hive #6 is the other package we bought. Similar to Hive #2 (the other package) it looks to be about 40 pounds. We saw a fascinating adventure with a wasp. It flew by as we were inspecting, probably attracted by the honey smell. The bees quickly shoo’d it away twice. But it came back again, and then the bees attacked it. See below and zoom in to the middle of the edge, and you’ll see that a bee is literally holding on to the wasps’s leg, not letting it go, as other bees come to help attack it. Amazing!
Lastly, regarding the mites, we’ll be taking assertive action this year since they did so much damage last year. Perry & Devin will help us treat all 6 hives at the end of summer / early Fall. Since mites move across hives, we think it best to treat all hives, even though some hives may have fewer mites now, especially the ones that had a brood break while being queenless.
Thanks to everyone that has participated so far in the Rosedale Bee Program this year. Bee happy for the coming rain and remember to pick your zucchini!