Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Observations on my entry into my hive last evening

Observations on my entry into my hive last evening...

Bee Journal entry 6/25/13:

I got into my bee hive about 7: 30pm.  (I don't get home from work until about 6:15pm).  It was slightly cooler at that point, than the 93F it had been around 4:00pm, but it was still very hot (90F) and humid (90%).  With my full beesuit on, I was sweating buckets like in a sauna.  (This can be a problem if your skin sticks to the suit because of the sweat and the bees sting you easily through it.)

It was almost too late to be in the hive really.   I killed a lot of my girls accidentally as I moved supers and frames around as they were all there at home this late in the day, and not out foraging like they would be at mid-day with the sun up high; that's the preferable time to be in the hive.  I also had to use a lot of smoke to calm them.  A low pressure thunder storm was on its way.  They hate low pressures!  They also hate high temperatures.  So they were irritated.  I would be, too!  (A few puffs of cool smoke calmed that behavior, until the next super's work of going through each frame by frame to check things.)  Then, repeat again.

There's a bit of a derth of moisture despite the afternoon thunder boomers we've had recently.  The clover is beginning to look all dried up and brown or burned.  The nectar flow is slowing way down.  But, my queen still has a very nice brood pattern in the first three bottom supers (brood chambers); I complimented her.  She seems healthy. I didn’t actually see my queen, her highness, last night, but there was evidence of her being there-eggs and c-shaped larvae and capped larvae becoming pupae-the brood. 

There is also a lot of pollen in those bottom supers; really it is too much-pollen bound, and she is laying some eggs in strange places on the end frames as a result.  Normally, the eggs and brood tend to be in the center frames of the super. 

Drone cells (housing male bee larvae and pupae) are building up in numbers as happens this time of year. Drone cells normally are on the bottom of frames and are more elongated out than regular worker brood cells.   I actually knocked some down, as I hate the Varroa mites that come with them (and the associated viruses the mites can bring, like the deformed wing virus that my girls in the past have gotten).  Not all beekeepers do this; most do not; I'm experimenting a bit.  And, in fact, you do need 20% of your hive make up to be drones for a healthy hive.

I also knocked down several swarm cells.  They were mostly in the lower supers where space is at a premium.  There is a plenty of space at the top in those supers.

The girls are thirsty with these hot temperatures of late that are burning up the clover and starting to eliminate the nectar flow out here.  The top three supers that had had capped honey last week had been reduced by consumption, so I actually took one full honey super off to save for whenever I extract honey, so they don’t eat it all up first! 

But, since they are hungry, I gave them some older full frames of honey I had stored in the basement freezer and thawed; (these were from a hive I had last year that had died.)  The girls were all over them immediately-very thirsty. 

There was lots of propolis (the sealant they make from tree cellulose and their saliva to plug cracks) as they tried and sealed the hive completely shut to allow for best air conditioning flow.

I saw no hive beetles or other pests or signs of disease.  (I did a 24 hour ipm-integrated pest management-mite drop last week, where I slipped an ipm board covered in pam spray into the bottom of the hive for overnight. Only two mites fell and stuck to it, so we seem mite healthy for now.  That will change as drones increase in number.)

They did try and sting me through my gloves, as the storm approached.  That's when I used more cool smoke to calm them and rid my gloves of the associated alarm pheromone-actually smoking my gloves.  You don't want to use hot smoke and singe the girls or their wings, antennae, etc., or you!

Lots of bearding was going on.   As it gets hot, the girls move out to the front porch and sit out there to cool down until after sunset, when they go back in.  Totally normal behavior.

As I closed up the hive, there was fanning of wings and associated pheromones going on for stragglers to find their way home as the sun was no longer in the sky. 

The hive looks healthy and good.  Few swarm cells.  The queen appears well, as does her brood. I had 6 supers on the hive, but took the one off that was full of honey and added some old frames with honey in lower supers.  There are likely close to 80,000 - 100,000 bees inside at this point.  No pests, disease or parasites present.  But, they do seem hungry.  I will monitor this.  I may need to start feeding them sooner than normal (end of July) if the nectar flow dries up.  I will next be in the hive within the next two weeks, but likely sooner to monitor the feeding and hunger concern and build up of drones.

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