Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Has Arrived

I hope everyone (in the USA) had a good Independence Day!

July 5th has arrived which means summer has 
officially started in Seattle and looking at the extended weather forecast I'd say they are right.  The girls have been busy sunrise to sunset collecting and drying nectar.  The blackberry bloom is mostly complete but there are a few cooler pockets on the hillside that are still in their prime.  I've seen the girls working pretty much anything they can find and this is where it pays off to be in a garden loving neighborhood with lots of flowers.  Lavenders and a few shrubs in the area are also blooming, but not many trees.

One of the girls working clover.

The Japanese Snowdrop trees are buzzing with bees right now.

Got another swarm call today (7/5/2012) for a swarm in the Northgate area.  They were about 6-7 feet off the ground and wrapped around several branches which made them more difficult to get into the hive.  However there was just enough flex in the tree that I was able to shake 50% of them into the hive box and then transferred the smaller clusters, that remained on the branches, by hand into the hive.  Apparently they didn't get the memo that they are easier to collect if they hang on a single exterior branch... or just fly into the empty hive box sitting in the yard.

I'd estimate the cluster was around 3-4 pounds of bees and I didn't see the queen but am pretty sure she was in there somewhere because they all started fanning right away.  The bee sizes vary quite a bit so it seems likely that these girls came from a natural cell size hive.

This is the bottom of the cluster.

Closer shot so you can see they go up the branch away from the camera.

After 40 minutes most of them are inside.

I added a mostly empty drawn comb from the Librarians to give the queen something to start laying in right away.

Hive checks (7/1/2012)

Took a quick peak and the queen is laying away and the hive is looking good to build up nicely.  They are still building comb and they have a good reserve of pollen built up.  Not taking much syrup anymore.

Nuc 2
Queen looks good and is filling out the frames with brood.  They have a good amount of pollen stored as well.  Not taking much syrup anymore.

Frame full of brood.  Hopefully she keeps this the rest of the summer.

Queen looks healthy.  She will get a bit longer as she starts to lay more.

Nuc 3
Queen looks good and has the start of a good laying pattern.  This queen is a couple weeks behind the queen in Nuc 2.   They are not taking much syrup anymore either.

Tight laying pattern in worker cells.

Another healthy looking queen.  Oddly all the new queens are blond.

Nuc 5
Checked and found drone cells and a queen cell in the middle drone cells.  There is a laying worker and they are making bad decisions if they are trying to turn a drone egg into a queen.  I dumped them out in front of other hives and re-purposed the combs/bee bread for the nucs to give them more resources.  So far 2 good queens out of 5 cell starts this year - not horrible based on our weather.

Nuc 6 - Swarm (6/27/2012)
No signs of a queen and they have started building a new comb but not what I would expect from a swarm.  I suspect they are queenless and they really don't have enough bees to raise a new queen even if I gave them eggs.  Will give them another week to show signs there might be a queen laying in there or I will combine with the other nucs.

Hive checks (7/4/2012)

Didn't see the queen again, but saw everything else.  Things are looking up in the food reserve department and they appear to be through the dearth.  They have good stores on all the frames and there are many frames of larvae and eggs throughout the hive.  The bees also seem to have returned to their usual calmness that I expect from this hive.

One unusual thing I found during this inspection was a white eyed drone.  It's a bit like finding a four leaf clover in the bee world and not something you would see outside of the hive since they are blind and can't really fly.  Bee's have 2 large compound eyes and 3 small simple eyes (triangularly placed just below the 2 large compound eyes).  In the second photo you can see all 5 eyes are white.  Drones develop from unfertilized eggs so they only have one set of chromosomes.  This means that any recessive genes the queens carry will get expressed such as in this white eyed drone.

The workers will care for this drone until it's mature and then it will try to leave the hive and be lost.

Saw the queen.  Stores look good and they look like they might be building comb again.

Saw the queen.  There's a small brood nest, but seems like too many drones being raised still.  The hive is much smaller than the Geek and Engineer hives.  Lots of pollen and bee bread and honey stores left over from last year.  They are also storing new nectar.

Tomorrow it's off to check the hives at Linda's and then this weekend I'm running the bee check at the club apiary which should give me a good comparison for how well other hives in the area are doing.

- Jeff

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