It was a beautiful sunny, shirt-sleeve kind of day in the Pacific Northwest today and the beehive was very active! Lately, I've seen a few bees flying about on warm or sunny days but it looks like a lot of them came out to play today! This just gives me Spring fever! I've moved another stand close to the existing stand to add more hives. I've yet to level it and put it into its final position but I'll get to that in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, I'm looking at getting my swarm traps baited and getting my hives and frames out of winter storage!
Today was a busy day. I split a beehive that had overwintered successfully (Italians) and I installed two packages of Carnolians from Stedman's Bee Supply in Silverdale. Each of these photos shows one of the splits as well as a fresh package install. I put a robber screen over the split that was walked away to help force the bees to reorient so they don't return to the old hive location where the new queen sits with half the brood.
My queen bee arrived today from Lappe's Bee Supply. She arrived at the local post office in the wee hours of the morning and I was promptly notified. I immediately drove to the Post Office, rang the secret doorbell and took possession of my new queen.
I'm splitting a hive today - taking half the brood and nursing bees and leaving the existing queen in the hive with her half of the stash. The half I remove is being put into a brand new beehive, along with this new queen.
I'll keep you updated!
Did a hive inspection yesterday. The bees survived winter and are rebuilding their stores. Spotted the queen - she has quite the swollen belly and will be popping out lots of eggs! She is laying already and some of the brood are hatching out now. :)
With winter coming, it's time to make bee fondant (sugar candy) for the bees to consume while over-wintering. I found a couple of recipes on the Internet and combined them to come up with this one. I poured the mixture into plastic sandwich lunch containers lined with foil. This recipe was enough to fill two such containers to the top. You will need a good candy thermometer:
8 cups sugar
16 oz water
1 tsp white vinegar
Combine ingredients and bring to a boil.
Boil uncovered for three minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture should be clear when done.
In my full hive inspection today, I found a VERY healthy and happy hive. The two deeps and top honey super were very full of calm, hard working bees. Temperature was 72 degrees and overcast but the skies were bright. The bees were calm and left me alone ... until I started shaking them off the honey frames. Then I found myself in a frightful swirl of bees but no worries - I was fully protected.
I have not noticed much of a mite problem but I know they are there, so I treated with two strips of Apivar in the brood chamber. I will come back and remove those strips in early October.
After two devastating winter losses, here we go again ...
This photo was taken at the tail end of a hive inspection - here, I am inspecting a piece of burr comb I removed from the hive to see if there are any eggs (or worse, a queen bee) on it.
"Burr comb" is extra comb the bees build inside the hive. It's important to remove it regularly so they don't impede your ability to move/remove frames from the hive and to keep things neat and orderly. :)
I went into winter with two of the strongest hives I've ever had. Tens of thousands of bees in each, one hive stacked two high and one stacked three high - all loaded to the gills with honey. The bees had plenty of numbers and plenty of food.
Fast forward to now. The hives are dead and moldy. They are still full of honey (but some was consumed). In each hive, about two inches of dead bees in the bottom and dead bees scattered about on the frames. Small moldy cluster in each hive.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, winters aren't nearly as cold as they are in other parts of the country, but rain is constant throughout the season, making condensation a real problem inside beehives. Condensation can form beneath the top or inner cover and drip down on the winter cluster, killing bees that otherwise may have well survived the winter.