Wednesday, May 23, 2012

4 Frames of Queen Cells

Wow what a busy week it has been.  It is swarm season and lot of beekeepers have been getting calls the last few weeks.  The chestnuts are still blooming and the hives are showing signs that they were able to take advantage of the nicer weather and store surplus maple/chestnut honey.  We will see if they cap it or eat it before blackberries.  Lots of flowers are blooming now, but no significant nectar sources beyond the chestnuts and I'm watching their stores closely.  There is usually a slight dearth between now and the start of blackberries in this area and those big booming hives can quickly exhaust their honey stores and perish.

Thimbleberry just started blooming and provides nectar and pollen.


Blackberries are a few weeks off, and the flower spikes are starting to form.   


Russian Sage - this is a great drought tolerant plant that blooms most of the summer, and like most essential herbs the bees love them.


Wisteria are starting to bloom as well.


Also this week both Nuc C (with new queen) and Nuc 1 were moved into full hives at Linda's host site in West Queen Anne.  Moving the hives went well with only a few minor issues - like forgetting to pull the syrup bottles out of the hives before taping them up and making a slightly sticky mess in the bottom of the nuc.  The other change I would make next time would be to get an earlier start so they are installed by dusk as everything seems to take more time to load and unload than you plan for.  As for the transfer of comb from the nucs to the big hives the bees were surprisingly calm and non-aggressive and for the most part stayed on the comb like they would for a normal inspection.

It might be a bit early to give Nuc C a name since they have a new queen, but now that they are in big hives at their new location they are getting one so they will be easier to reference.  Since this Italian queen line likes nicer weather I'm opting for a "beach" theme for the names in her line.  Nuc 1 which has the mother queen will be Sand and Nuc C will be Surf.

New hives built and ready to move to new apiary.


Hive checks (5/16/2012)

Surf (Nuc C)
Did a quick check on the frames and saw the new queen running around and she looked to be in good shape.  Didn't do a thorough check beyond that due to the stress of the move.

Sand (Nuc 1)
No check other than the frame transfer into the big hive and found the queen by the sound change when I picked up the frame she was on.  You don't always hear it, especially if they are already pissy, but sometimes when you get to the frame the queen is on they will make a slight roaring sound as you lift the frame.  When I heard this all it took was a quick glance and there she was.  This is a strong queen and they are building comb with lots of new brood on the way.

Nuc 2
Did a quick check and found 4 frames with 1 or more uncapped queen cells on them.  One frame from the Engineers with 4 cells all next to each other, and three frames that came form the Geeks that had just 1 cell per frame.  Two of those queen cells on the Geek frames came from eggs laid in queen cups (I saw the eggs when I transferred the frames).

Marked the frames with cells for transferring into Nucs (3, 4, 5) on next inspection.  I wanted an even split of Geek and Engineers cells, but I didn't want to risk causing damage to any of the cells on the Engineer frame by trying to cut them out.  I like to have at least 4 cells buffer when I'm cutting cells out of combs. So I'll have three nucs from the Geeks and one form the Engineers when all is said and done.

Capped queen cell with drones and nurse bee.



Hive checks (5/18/2012)

Sand & Surf
Took a quick peak behind the follower board and last frames to make sure they were adapting to the new hives and location and all looked good.

Hive check (5/21/2012)

Nuc 2
Due to very crappy weather over the weekend I could not check the hives or even split up the queen cells form Nuc 2.  However I lucked out with an hour of rain and wind free weather on Monday evening and I took three of the frames with queens cells from Nuc 2 and made up Nucs 3, 4 and 5.  I pulled three frames from the Librarians, Geeks, and Engineers and added one to each of the new nucs to help supplement the populations and will add more brood after queens are mated.  Timing would put the cells around 10-12 days old with emergence around day 16.  I will be surprised if they have not emerged by this Friday.  I'm worried about not getting an inspection in on the Geek hive this weekend as they may be planning to swarm soon.

- Jeff