Sunday, April 8, 2012

4 Strong Hives - First Full Hive Check of the Season

Wow, we had some nice weather for once.  Did a full inspection of all 4 hives yesterday while the sun was out and happy to report they all are making good progress.  The girls were also happy to be out collecting pollen and nectar.  The cherries and dandelions are blooming and the Maples should start in the next week.

Drinking nectar from a Siberian Squill flower.  These have white pollen, but some have blue pollen that the bees really like.

About a block from the house there is a P-Patch and there are several plots where gardeners have let cover crops grow over winter and flower.  Winter crops are not only good for the soil but can offer some food for the pollinators as well.  I've heard of bee-lining (finding a bee hive by watching their flight patch), but I've never heard of finding a hive by smell, but was clearly able to pick up the sweet bee-hive scent between the house and the park in several places when I crossed the bee-line.  It is amazing to think that all those bee trips back and forth can actually leave a scent in the air along the flight path.

One plot with a patch of collard flowers was buzzing with honey and bumble bees.  She is drinking nectar and collecting pollen (you can see the pollen basket on her back legs).

Hive reports:

The librarians had a total of 11 frames of brood, which is quite a lot for this time of year!  Out of those 3 looked to be mostly drone brood, and there were also some young drones in the hive.  That much drone brood can only mean they are building up for spring and to swarm.  I have several weeks before I will need to take action to prevent swarming.  I gave them some more space around the brood nest so she wouldn't get cramped and to encourage them to start building comb.

Some issues were found that will need to be addressed: spotty brood comb, deformed wing virus (DWV) and visible varroa on bees.  Varroa can spread DWV and can be the result of spotty brood since these bees have hygienic traits that help them remove infected cells.  Not sure what method to use yet to address the issues.  I will need to do another inspection to find out how bad the mites are and determine what can be done.

The Librarian's queen running around.

When she slows down for a second the bees will quickly circle her to clean her and attend to whatever she needs.

Nuc B is a sister hive to the Librarians and they had 4 combs of brood in a nice tight cell pattern.  No other issues seen here.  They have taken a about two cups of syrup since I put the jars on.  I could tell the syrup jars are not getting very warm in the day.  

The queen is darker than her sister on the right side of the comb.  You can see larvae (white c shapes) in the cells near the light brown capped cells of older brood.

Nuc C is on par with Nuc B with 4 frames of brood.  These girls don't have as much flight activity right now and don't fly in the colder rainy weather as much.  Syrup intake was about 2-3 cups.  Their temperament is also a bit more pissy than the other hives.

Just above the queens tail you can see a few day old attendant bee following the queen around.  Young bees are a little smaller and have more hair on their head. 

The Geeks had 4 frames of brood as well.  This queen is the mother of the Librarian and Nuc B hives and has a nice tight laying pattern.  They also had the most pollen reserves out of all the hives which puts them in good shape to take off in growth.  The Geeks are in a full hive and I was able to give them three frames of empty comb from the old Frat hive for the queen to start laying in.

You can only see her tail here, and she has her head in a cell checking to see if it's clean.  If it is she will turn around an lay an egg in it.

This week they expect warmer temps than what we have been having so they should be able to make a lot of progress.  Good weather for maples can make huge differences in how the year will go.

- Jeff

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