Saturday, April 26, 2008

Warmer weather - time to check bees

I looked at all my hives yesterday. I found all five of my queens and saw nice solid laying patterns - large patches of cells completely filled with eggs and larvae. They had stored syrup in both the newly drawn comb on the plastic foundation, and in the drawn comb I'd given them. I'll continue feeding - the dandelions have not bloomed very much yet.

All the new hives looked prosperous, with new cells drawn on the plastic sheets. I have seen the light: I love the plastic foundation sheets. The bees go right to work on them. They save a lot of time futzing around stringing wire and embedding pure wax foundation.

Today I'll remove the restrictions at the openings of my hives.

I look forward to reading your comments - I'd like to hear of your experiences of looking into your hives.

3 comments:

Lee Hatcher said...

I took the tops off this afternoon and examined the frames. The hive in which thought I lost the queen seems indeed not to have one. There's lots of comb filled with sugar water and a smaller number of cells with pollen. However, no evidence of eggs and after 20 minutes I gave up looking for the queen.

In the other hive I found some grubs at various sizes, but only about 20 or 30. There was no capped brood and I couldn't find the queen even after another 20 minutes of searching. I'll try again in a few days. It seems to me I should have brood on two frames before taking one over to the queenless hive. Any ideas out there?

Craig Lints said...

The hive with larvae probably has a queen but the lack of sealed brood is suspect. Look deep in the cells for eggs. Look carefully. If there are cells with more than one egg, it means you have a laying worker. Also, do the hives act differently? A hive without a queen is louder and does not cluster as tightly. Dave or I should probably look at your hives. Call whoever is closest.

I am skeptical about whether a package w/o a queen can recover at this point. It is important to determine whether the queen is successful within the first 3 to 5 days of installation and order a queen asap.

At this point, if you have one queen, I would combine the hives. If you have no queens, I would order a queen and combine the hives upon her arrival.

To combine hives, put one box on top of the other with a sheet of newspaper between. Cut a couple of slits in the newspaper with your hive tool first.

Craig Lints said...

Opps, I forgot to say: Upper box must have an entrance. I drill one inch holes in all my boxes, but lacking that, you can also take the lid and put a small stone under it as a temporary entrance.

After a week or so, the bees will have removed the newspaper or most of it. You can remove the remainder and close the lid tightly.

Also, I would note that this was a hard year for packages. The cold weather made it impossible to check for the queen in a timely manner.