Monday, July 1, 2013

Supersedure Queens and Swarms

It feels like summer is in full swing here in Seattle and it's not even July 5th yet!  The hives are doing well and I'm seeing some honey accumulation, but never as much as you might expect from nice weather.  The sunshine is good for flowers and makes for nice forage weather but as the ground dries out quickly and so does the nectar.  This year I really haven't seen a whole lot of interest in neighborhood blackberry patches except for a few times after it had just rained.   Rather it seems that the girls are turning to the shrubs that get watered in people's yards around the neighborhood as the better nectar source.

This girl is collecting Lavender nectar and she also has a bit of pollen on her legs.  Usually you don't see them collecting both on a trip.


Holodiscus discolor or Ocean Spray is blooming now.  Lots of tiny nectar filled flowers.


Here's another plant profile for the Linden/Basswood tree (Tilia americana).

When June arrives in the Puget Sound area most beekeepers are thinking about the Blackberry flow.  However in other parts of the country the Basswood tree helps make up the major June flow.  While not native to the northwest they historically were planted as street trees around neighborhoods in Seattle.   Linden trees are slow growing upright trees that can get quite large over time providing summer shade.  Unfortunately they have become unpopular as they are susceptible to aphids which causes them drip sticky sap on sidewalks and cars.  However if you are fortunate enough to have some these now giant trees in your neighborhood the nectar produced from their tiny yellow flowers makes for an appealing light honey.

The rain last week really boosted the blooms on these trees and they smell great right now.


Not a native but there are a few olive bushes in bloom right now.


Ilex crenata (Japanese holly).  The bees love this hedge plant and many people don't realize it has tiny little flowers.  I had a swarm call this week because one person mistook all the bee buzzing to be from a swarm in one of these hedges.


Also found a street with several late season Hawthorns in bloom.


Later blooming varieties of Laurel shrubs are flowering now.


Hive Checks (6/22/2013)
Plum Creek
Finally a nice patch of capped worker brood.  This is the queen from the split on 4/28 and she's about 2-3 weeks late to get going.  In talking with another beekeeper that raised queens about the same time I started he also saw this same slow to start for his queens.

Pretty solid brood pattern.


Icon Granddaughter Hive
To my surprise I found a nice patch of capped worker brood.  I guess she's not a drone layer after all!  This is the queen from the split on 5/1 and she's also about 2-3 weeks late to get going.   A few drones with deformed wing were found as well.  Gave them a frame of capped brood from the Icon daughter hive to help build their numbers up.

Looking more like a queen now.


You can see the larvae in cells with all the pollen around the patch of brood.  I'm going to give her some more time before I judge how good the pattern is.  Sometimes the cells aren't cleaned up enough for a nice solid pattern when the hive numbers start to drop.


This frame is looking a lot better then the last.


Here's a shot of some of the white honey they made in mid-May.


Rosemary Swarm
They took a half gallon of syrup this week and a few pounds of old comb honey.  They have drawn several new combs and finished drawing the partial combs I gave them.  I found signs of newly laid eggs and I'm pretty sure this was a cast swarm with a virgin queen since it took her about 10 days to start laying eggs.  Will need to give her a week or so to see how the pattern looks.  Gave them more syrup.

This was an older comb I gave them and they are finishing it up.  You can see the new white comb added onto the older comb.


I love how clean the new white comb looks.


The queen looks nice and fat.


Icon Daughter Nuc
The queen cell from last week has been capped and there was actually a second one in progress.  The queen is still there and laying.  A few drones with deformed wing were found.

This small queen keeps going.


A new queen is on the way.


Rebels
They are looking good and are finally big enough to call them a hive again.  There were even a few eggs in drone sized cells and guard bees were keeping an eye on me.  They are missing the flow, but these girls were able to bring in honey last summer during the dearth when the rest of the hives weren't doing much, so I have high hopes they will end the summer on a decent note.

I'm amazed at how well these girls have bounced back.


Hive Checks (6/23/2013)
Geek Nuc
Things are looking good and most of the frames are full of capped brood.  Would like to see a few more bees covering the frames, but with the warm weather they should pull through.  Gave them more syrup.

After three years she still can fill out a frame.


Queen Castle
In general it looks like they lost too many bees back to the main hive for the slots to remain viable.  I have better luck when I move them to a new yard, but was trying something new this time.  Slots 2 & 3 may still have a queen in them running around as the cells were opened but I couldn't find her.

Geek Hive
Would have liked to have seen more nectar stored but the frames were getting heavier so will keep my fingered crossed that they keep it up.  Found the new queen and she's a darker girl with pretty gold bands.

The nurse bees already like her.


Architect Hive
Everything looked good and they are building up nicely.  Some stores, but they are still likely too small to take advantage of the flow.

They are just starting to cap all the brood on this frame working out from the center.


The queen being followed around by nurse bees.


Eggs laid in cells.  It looks like she missed a few.


Hive Checks (6/28/2013)
Surf
Saw multiple frames of hatched brood and lots of eggs.  The queen has apparently decided she needed to get to work and is laying up a storm.  The hive was noticeably calmer today with only a few pissy girls that wanted to head butt.

I like to see frames laid right to the edges like this.


I like this picture because you can see that the pollen is in the middle and the edges of the whole frame are solid brood.  You don't always see what you get in the stock photos and this queen is catching up for lost time.


Sand
Some brood and eggs on the way, but the queen seems to have slowed down.  I was just thinking how I didn't like the head butting these girls do when the hive builds up and a minute later found two queen cells in the works.  My gut tells me it's a supersedure attempt, but not wanting to mess around I put her in a cage to take home to the queen castle and left them to finish the two cells.  There really aren't enough bees in here yet to want to swarm.  I may need to check back in a week to clean up any emergency cells they build from eggs.

Queen Castle
Slot 2 - The Sand queen went in here as I couldn't find a queen.

Slot 3 - Saw the queen and she's darker than her mom, but not her new sister.  Will need to give her some resources soon.

Hive Checks (6/29/2013)
Picked up a large swarm from a local beekeeper.  This was a secondary swarm from the hive but it was still fairly large.  Helped them do a hive check to figure out what was going on.  It appears that even through they cut the remaining swarm cells down to the best 3 after the first swarm they still had young larvae and eggs and made several more emergency cells.  Found at least 4 queens running around in the hive and they were piping at each other.  Put one in a cage to take with the swarm as a "just in case" and moved one to the original swarm nuc they had made that appeared to be missing a queen and left two to fight it out.  There may have been more and I missed them (I saw more opened cells) and I wouldn't normally have left two but the first one I found was smaller and not knowing about the others I left her.  The other queens I found were all much bigger and would have been better to keep so I left the one to hopefully find and take out the smaller weaker queen.

So time consuming to scoop bees by hand out of a mass of branches.  That branch was unshakable.


Marching into their new home.  Loaned them 6 drawn frames and a half gallon of syrup for down payment, lets see if they can fill the hive in the next 3 weeks to earn their rent.


Rosemary Swarm
Gave them more syrup.

Hive Checks (6/30/2013)
Icon Daughter Nuc
Checked in to see how the supersedure was going and found both queens walking side by side.  The mother queen has dramatically slowed down her laying and there were many open empty cells without larvae or eggs left.  The nurse bees were still pretty much ignoring the new queen.  Saw a worker and drone with DWV and a few varroa mites and I'm hoping the newer queens picks up some more resistant traits from the drones she mated with.  I like this hive because it is so gentle and that is something worth keeping around.

Emerged queen cell (I found two like this but only one young queen).  I'm guessing the two virgin queens fought and now the strongest is in line to take over.


Mother queen showing her age.  Look at that nasty varroa!


Daughter queen.  Hmm, who was her father?


Here they both are and she's much bigger than her mom.  She likely hasn't developed enough pheromones to draw the attention from the nurse bees yet.


Back to the bees,

Jeff