Monday, July 9, 2012

Observations From The Apiary Work Party

On Saturday it was my turn to lead the work party for the club apiary.  The club has work parties every two weeks to help keep things maintained and the To-Do list is coordinated by our apiary manager.  I have to say it's a bit of an experience walking into an apiary of 18 or so hives and not really knowing much about them.  There wasn't time to dig through all the boxes and I had to pick and choose which ones needed attention the most and might provide the best learning experiences for volunteers that showed up to help.  I think only a couple of the hives overwintered (but I had no idea which ones) and the rest are from spring packages or swarms.  Obviously this added to the challenge of trying to determine which hives were weak and which were simply new swarms.

The most common issue I saw was that most hives had way too much unused space.  They were either only using the center 3-4 frames of several boxes or they barely filled a third of a deep yet had a super or two on top.  Grand hopes of a nectar flow that just hasn't happened in the city this year, and we left with feed on all the hives.  The other issues I saw were; hives that looked weak due to a poor laying pattern, comb built on the inner cover of an empty box, queen-less with emergency cells, and a dead-out.  Then there were two really strong hives that would be great to raise new queens from.  In reflection I am left wondering if perhaps I'm a bit too critical of the Librarian hive that has a poor laying pattern.  That hive would be better than all the hives I looked at except the two I think they should breed from.

Collecting nectar from lavender flowers.

Blackberries have a few blooms left, and the berries are on the way.

Hive check (7/5/2012)

Checked the hive and found a healthy looking queen.  She has had two weeks to go out and mate and should be ready to start laying eggs any day now.  She actually looks a lot like her mother and is similar in size.

The new queen of the Surf hive.

This hive is exploding and I wouldn't be surprised if they match the Engineer and Geek hives by end of the month.  The hive is mostly brood of all stages and they are eagerly building comb.  Seems the sunshine is bringing out the motivation of this Italian-mutt queen.

Looking for clean cells to lay eggs in.

She is laying an egg here.  Her abdomen is in a cell while an attendant bee feeds her.

In typical Seattle style the sky has been clear and the weather has been above 70 since the 4th and the extended forecast shows more of the same coming.  So my typical Seattle response will be... Great, now I'll have to water all my rain spoiled plants so they don't die.  Have a great week.

- Jeff

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