Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Combining hives

I tried 3 times to get the queenless split up and going by providing eggs w/o any success.  Yesterday I went to look again and they were anxious and no signs of a queen cell so I added them to the other split I made from Demeter using the newspaper method.  I added two sheets of packing paper on top of the split w/ the queen made a few small slashes w/ my hive tool then added both boxes of the queenless hive.  I wanted to just add the deep, but there was still so many bees that I put the medium on as well.  I then put the inner cover on and an empty super (just to make the top entrance easier) then the outer cover.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sometimes I just don't know

Today I went and had a look at the CSX hive.  If the bee math is correct I took the original queen with me when I made the split.  I saw new eggs but no larvae at all.  This make me almost sure that I mistakenly took her highness with me.  Not ideal, but as long as the eggs I saw weren't from a laying worker (a couple of the cells had multiple eggs in it, out of a whole frame maybe 6 cells) it should work it's way out. If you double click the bottom picture you can see 2 of the cells with 2 eggs in it just to the right of the lower bee.  The egg position suggest a queen, they are in the center, standing upright.

Signs of a laying worker:

  • Brood Pattern:Laying workers lay eggs that lack the queen's egg recognition pheromone, meaning that other workers may remove the eggs. This results in a spotty brood pattern, in which empty cells are scattered heavily through capped brood.
  • Number of Eggs per Cell: The beekeeper looks at the honeycomb cells to see how many eggs are laid in each one. Queen bees will usually lay only a single egg to a cell, but laying workers will lay multiple eggs per cell. Multiple eggs per cell are not an absolute sign of a laying worker because when a newly mated queen begins laying, she may lay more than one egg per cell.
  • Egg Position:Egg position in the cell is a good indicator of a laying worker. A Queen bee's abdomen is noticeably longer than a worker, allowing a queen to lay an egg at the bottom of the cell. A Queen bee will usually lay an egg centered in the cell. Workers cannot reach the bottom of normal depth cells, and will lay eggs on the sides of the cell or off center.
  • Drone Brood in Worker Cells: Another good indicator is drone brood in worker sized cells. Drones are raised in larger cells than workers. Drone cells are recognizable by their larger size, and when capped Drone cells are capped with blunt pointed cappings. Drones in worker cells are a sure sign of a failing queen or laying worker.
Double click on picture to see eggs.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Michael Bush's bee math

I might have already posted this before, but since I didn't label from the beginning I couldn't find it.

Bee Math
email address
All of the numbers about the life cycle of bees may seem irrelevant, so let's put them in a chart here and talk about what they are useful for.
Caste   Hatch    Cap          Emerge 
Queen   3½ days  8 days +-1   16 days +-1  Laying        28 days +-5
Worker  3½ days  9 days +-1   20 days +-1  Foraging      42 days +-7
Drone   3½ days 10 days +-1   24 days +-1  Flying to DCA 38 days +-5
If you find eggs, and no queen how long ago do you KNOW there was a queen? At least there was one three days ago and possibly is one now. If you find just hatched larvae and open brood but no eggs when was there a queen? Four days.
If you put an excluder between two boxes and come back in four days and find eggs in one and not the other, what do you know? That the queen is in the one with eggs.
If you find a capped queen cell, how long before it should have emerged for sure? 9 days, but probably eight.
If you find a capped queen cell, how long before you should see eggs from that queen? 20 days.
If you killed or lost a queen, how long before you'll have a laying queen again? 24 days because the bees will start from a just hatched larvae.
If you start from larvae and graft, how long before you need to transfer the larvae to a mating nuc? 10 days. (day 14)
If you confine the queen to get the larvae how long before you graft? Four days because some won't have hatched at the beginning for day 3.
If you confined the queen to get the larvae how long before we have a laying queen? 28 days.
If a queen is killed and the bees raise a new one how much brood will be left in the hive just before the new queen starts to lay? None. It will take 24 or 25 days for the new queen (raised from a four day old) to be laying and in 21 days all the workers will have emerged and in 24 days all the drones will have emerged.
If the queens starts laying today how long before that brood will be foraging for honey? 42 days.
You can see how knowing how long things take helps you predict where things are going or where things have been.
Sometimes you just have to figure best and worst case. For instance, an uncapped queen cell with a larvae in it is between four and eight days old (from the egg). A capped queen cell is between eight and sixteen days old. By looking at the tip of the cell you can tell one that is just capped (soft and white) from one that is about to emerge (brown and papery and often cleaned down to the cocoon by the workers). A soft white queen cell is between eight and twelve days old. A papery one is between thirteen and sixteen days old. The queen will emerge at sixteen (fifteen if it's hot out). She'll be laying by twenty eight days usually.
Michael Bush

Hive updates

  • Demeter, the mother hive, seems to be doing well.  Pulled another 5 medium frames of capped honey today.
  • Split #1, this is the split that has a laying queen.  They still have room in the deep and are drawing comb and pulling in nectar.
  • split #2, this split will not cooperate and produce a queen.  I'm giving them one more week to see eggs or they will get combined with another hive.
  • package #1, I added another medium to this hive since they had drawn and filled out most of the first deep.  The queen is laying and they look like they are doing a good job.
  • package #2, This hive received a 2nd medium last week and they have hardly touched it.  I moved some more frames with stores to the top in hopes of luring them up.
  • CSX split, I made this split 8 days ago and today when I checked on them one side of a frame with brand new eggs as spotted!  Hopefully I didn't get the original queen from the CSX hive, but I don't think so.  She must have hatched right after I made the split and and got right to mating to be laying eight days later!
My be yard is quite the mess!  I need to pull down the fence, finish dispersing the dirt from the garden beds that I removed and put up a nice new fence with a gate and stands or rails for the hives that are just sitting on blocks.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Foundationless frames and another split.

I removed some beautiful capped honey and some nice queen cells from CSX on Saturday.  John had come to check on the inspection when I spotted the queen cells.  Lucky for me he came baring a mothers day present of a corrugated plastic nuc.  This hive has been such a pleasant hive that I'm excited to have another one from this strain.

Frame with Popsicle stick guides and fishing wire for support when extracting.  Hope the wire works.  They seem to draw the foundation right over it so it should work fine.

What to do when the hive is to tall?

CSX and Demeter both came out of winter in full force.  They both have 2 deeps and 2 mediums full.  Nectar is coming in like crazy, but I don't want to add more boxes since I can hardly see over the top already.  This has left me no choice but to pull frame by frame fully capped honey and replace the frames with an empty frame.  I wish I had wired the frames so I could use the extractor and feed drawn out comb back to them.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Atlanta Progressive Preschool peace, love and bugs bee Demo w/ John

John and I did a bee demo for my son's school fundraiser last weekend.  We tried out John's new observation hive and I have to say that bees didn't seem to really like it, it was a hit!  We had so many curious questions about bees and keeping them.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Second package

I checked the second package and the queen had been released and I spotted a few eggs.  Hopefully that means she is going to stay and be content in their new home.

Demeter brood pattern

Demeter has two brood boxs full of a solid pattern of worker brood.

The cost of impatience

The split that hasn't produced a queen and I have added eggs to twice now (today made attempt number 3) I should have been left alone for another 5 days.  It had been five days since I tried putting in eggs again and curiosity had gotten the better of my judgement. New wax is very, very soft.  When I pulled the frame marked with the eggs I accidently squished some of the queen cups.  Sigh, dumb, dumb, dumb.

squished cups
a few cups on the other side were ok.

Frame of eggs with drone brood (unknown at the time) that was tied in.

If they don't make a queen from either the cell above or cups then they will need to be combined back with another hive.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

DHS bee club prgress

Yesterday the bee club checked on their install.  Looks like all is well, they had released the queen and have started to build comb on 3 frames and are bringing in nectar.