Thursday, April 9, 2015

Earth Day Is Coming and Updates on Hive Splits

In most years the Puget Sound area goes into a summer dearth just after the blackberry bloom wraps up.   A dearth is a period of time where hives have limited food sources available to forage for pollen or nectar.  By planting Summer and Fall flowering trees and shrubs you can help mitigate this dearth and provide food for hives when it is most needed.  Celebrate this Earth Day by planting a bee loving tree or shrub!

Below are a few examples to consider for your summer garden:
  • Bee Bee Tree (Tetradium daniellii, Evodia daniellii, or Euodia daniellii)
  • Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
  • Chaste (Vitex agnus-castus)
  • Chestnut (Castanea dentata)
  • Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia)
  • Golden Rain (Koelreuteria paniculata)
  • Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
  • Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonicus)
  • Japanese Stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia)
  • Linden (Tilia)
  • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
  • Seven Sons (Heptacodium miconioides)
  • Silk Tree (Albizia julibrissin)
  • Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
Linden tree seedling.

Nectar and pollen is still filling the air and many types of berries have started to bloom.  The weather has been good and there is still an abundance of food available.  A few of the new queens from the splits should have emerged and it's just a matter of time to see how well they mated.

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) is in bloom.

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is in bloom and a good pollen source.

Strawberries are in bloom.

Blueberries are in bloom.

Thyme is in bloom.

Pacific Blackberry (Rubus ursinus) is our native blackberry and it has already started to bloom.

Hive checks (4/4/2015)
Hive activity was light.  There were some possible signs of nosema (a gut microsporidian/fungus) around the entrance as well.  Expecting the worst I opened the hive and found that things actually looked pretty good inside.  They are building up slowly, and the broodnest looked well defined and was just starting to extend over 4 combs.  The slow buildup tells me they are still dealing with something, but are currently outpacing the issue.

Nice brood pattern.

Another dark bee with a white pollen mark.  This is a better photo than the one in my last post.

This queen has made a nice comeback from where they were.

Some streaking on the front of the hive.

Hive checks (4/6/2015)
Small broodnest and noticed some varroa and DWV on bees.  I see this often when I split a queen off a large hive.  Hopefully the partial brood cycle break will reset the issue.  Gave them a few extra frames of bees from the original hive.  There were several emerging drones that all looked healthy and varroa free so I think they are able to keep the issue under control.

Here is the queen.

Rebel Daughter
They ended up making 3 emergency queens cells, but only 1 of them was a huge cell like I would hope to see.  Perhaps that's for the best.  I really don't want a secondary swarm off of them and because this is such a big hive I am thinking I will go back in on Wednesday and pull the 2 other small ones to put in a nuc.  I find I have better luck splitting the cells up right before they emerge.  

My guess is that there was something wrong with the larvae and they stopped work on this emergency queen cell.

Hive checks (4/8/2015)
Rebel Daughter
Made up two nucs with the extra cells that should emerge in the next few days.

Queen bee math check:
The split was made on 3/26 or 13 days ago.  If they were picking the best larvae to turn into queens they could up to 1 day old larvae (which is actually day 4 if you count that it was an egg for 3 days).  This means that we are at day 17 if they picked the oldest they could, or at day 13 if they picked a freshly laid egg.  Queens emerge around day 15/16 so we should have queens emerging any time now with Saturday (4/11) at the VERY latest.

Back to the bees,

- Jeff

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