Saturday, July 28, 2012

Busy As a Beekeeper

When the bees are busy so are the beekeepers and these last two weeks have been keeping me on my toes. Last week I was busy putting together the queen castles for the swarm cells to raise new queens.  The queens should have emerged 5-6 days ago from their cells and taken their mating flights in this rare Seattle sunshine.  The Blackberries are done, but there are plenty of garden plants providing enough to keep the girls busy.  I also ran across a block of giant Linden trees about a half mile away that are just a few days past their bloom prime.  Lavender is going strong and cone flowers are also in bloom.

Snow like pollen from Lavatera × clementii (Tree Mallow).

Last weekend was also the PSBA picnic and a few of us stayed around for the apiary inspection.  I was able to tackle several of the hives I didn't get to on the previous inspection and update the notes.  I will say while I like Top Bar Hives, it's so much easier to be a "lazy beekeeper" with Langstroth hives because the bees can't mess them up as much as they can in a top bar if you aren't keeping an eye on the combs they build.

PSBA Apiary

Echinacea is in full bloom now.

Swarm (7/24/2012)

I got another swarm call from a beekeeper in Ballard that had his hive swarm for the third time this year.  This was a good sized swarm and I really don't know how a hive can pull off three swarms from a spring package and still be full of bees, but sure enough the hive still had plenty of bees working away.  He was telling me how just a few days before he found a queen outside the hive and put her back in...  I'm guessing this queen was kicked out by a stronger queen and it triggered another swarm when she left the second time (because obviously her sister was going to kick her butt again).  The girls seem pretty calm, but I didn't see a queen and will look for her this weekend.   She likely is a virgin queen which will make her harder to spot.

Swarm in maple tree.

Hive Check (7/22/2012)

Saw the queen and a fair amount of brood.  They have honey stored, just not sure how much yet.  Seeing signs of varroa and DWV.  Three frames donated to the Queen Castles.  Will powder sugar them next weekend.

Northgate Swarm
Not much has changed in the last week as far as comb building but am seeing the first capped worker cells.  The pattern is spotty which seems to be in line with the random egg here and there I was seeing last week.  Apparently the girls aren't all that impressed either and I found two supersedure cells (one capped) on a back frame.

Several frames of this bad laying pattern is a sign of a weak queen.

Thankfully the girls agree with me and they have plans to replace the queen.

Nuc with Engineer queen
They are back in build up mode.  Gave them syrup.

Nuc 3
Not building up as fast as Nuc 2.  They aren't taking much syrup either.  They were moved to the queen castle to make room for the swarm.  The extra sun the queen castles get might do them good.

Nuc 2
Building up quickly.  No inspection.  Added syrup.

No inspection.  Added syrup.

The hive is looking really good at the moment.  The laying pattern is still so-so but better than I've ever seen it in the past and the hive is full of healthy looking bees.  Donated a frame to the Queen Castles.

Queen Castles
They all got syrup and 4 of the 6 got an extra frame of bees.

There are four (bee proof) sections in the hive for each of the new queens.

Hive check (7/26/2012)

The girls were bearding and had drawn out several new combs and filled them with capped honey.  Unfortunately one of them was badly cross combed and had to be harvested and the others were partially fixed.  However that got them worked up so I had to postpone the full inspection.  My gut is telling me this hive will try to swarm soon.  I'll check them again early next week.

Saw the queen and good patches of brood on several frames with a good laying pattern.  It seems that they have been digging into their stores and will need some feed soon.  My only concern with feeding is they are next to the mother hive that is overflowing with bees right now and I don't want to start robbing.  I might try to steal honey comb if I can get the workers off but and thinking of trying moist sugar.

New queens laying pattern.

Now back to to bees.

- Jeff


  1. I've been AWOL for awhile from my RSS feeds, but it's good to get back and see what you and "the girls" are doing!

    1. It's easy to get bogged down with too much to do sometimes when you try to do everything. :)