Monday, May 6, 2013

May Sunshine and First Splits of the Year

The weather this year is turning out to be favorable for the bees here in the Northwest.  Several consecutive days of sunny weather means the bees can build up nectar and pollen stores in the hives.  The maples have finished up and I've split two hives this last week to keep them from swarming.  Compared to last year we had rain almost constant right up until early July which washed out the maples and blackberries.  Most hives have honey left from the winter and with the new stores they are bringing in I'm not going to be too worried about the late May dearth that we can sometimes get.

Crab Apple blooms are finishing up (same with apples).


Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum (Chinese red fringe flower) just starting to bloom.


Trillium flowers were harder to find this year and seemed to be late.


Many Rhododendrons are coming into full bloom.


Borage (you can stage plantings for year long blooms)


Centaurea montana (Bachelor's Button Cornflower)


Dicentra formosa (Western Bleeding Heart) have reached their peaks.


Geranium maculatum (Wild Geranium) are starting to bloom.


Daphne are coming into bloom and filling the air with their perfume.


Geranium robertianum (This geranium is also known as Stinky Bob ans grows well in shaded areas).  It's also an invasive weed here in Washington.


Erysimum (Purple Wallflower) starting to bloom.


Erysimum (Yellow Wallflower) - This one has grey pollen.


Hive checks (4/21/2013)
Surf
Had a patch of sunshine in the afternoon today to check this hive.  They inherited most of the comb from the Sand hive leaving almost no empty bars in the hive.  They were all over the hive and filling in comb wherever it was missing and storing nectar and pollen.  Lots of drones and queen cups (one with a fresh egg) that I removed.  Even through there are a lot of bees I would like to see more frames of brood before splitting and I'm going to try to hold them off another week.

There is still some leftover sugar in the way back of the hive from winter they are working on.


Entrance activity on this hive busting with bees.


Hive checks (4/28/2013)
Surf
Split the hive.  There were several queen cups/cells with a good amount of royal jelly in them.  Since it's pretty much impossible to know if there is an egg floating in all that food I took it as a sign to split the hive.  It also looked like egg production might have been slowing down.  I moved the queen into the empty Sand hive with 5-6 frames of brood and honey.

Look at all the drones she has made to spread her genetics.  Hopefully will get some crossover with the hives on the other side of the hill.


Hive checks (5/1/2013)
Icon Daughter Nuc
The hive is packed full of bees, brood and nectar/pollen.  Another plus is that these girls are so calm to inspect!  There was a cell full of royal jelly and another capped cell.  I moved the queen into a nuc with 5 frames.

Uncapped queen cell.


It's hard to see what's in there but it's full of royal jelly and I'm assuming a tiny larvae since there is a capped cell on the next frame.


There are several nice frames of brood.


Lots of drones in this hive as well.


Rebels
Checked to see if they were taking the syrup, but did not dig into the brood nest.  This hive is still very small and I'm not noticing much if any syrup being used (they have plenty of honey).  I've been going back and forth on if I want to prop them up at all with resources from another hive and my current thinking is to just leave them alone.

Geeks
No signs of swarming and they are still building up.  Lots of frames of brood on the way and a good laying pattern.  They should be about the size of the Surf hive in about two weeks.  Added a few bars to the brood nest to get them to draw out new comb.

Here is her majesty in her third year.


She's still laying nice solid frames of brood.


This frame isn't as perfect as the last and but that's due to them back-filling with pollen and nectar faster than the queen can replace with new eggs.  There are even a few bees with pollen mo-hawks in the lower right.


There are a lot of flowers and trees just coming into bloom, so as long as the weather stays on track with what it's been doing we should have a good beekeeping season this year.  It's also time to carry around my swarm catching gear for wild or (lazy beekeeper) hives in the area that are making plans to swarm.

Back to the bees.

- Jeff