BeeKeeping

Cleaned out dead hives

Both hives didn't survive the winter and were filled with tens of thousands of dead bees, inches thick in the bottom of each hive. The hives were moldy but didn't smell too bad, surprisingly. Both hives were still full of honey. I had observed activity into December but nothing since. I have known since a quick peek in late January that only one hive still had a small cluster but they, too, perished.

Installed moisture quilts on beehives

Created and installed moisture quilts on both hives. I didn't get into the hives, but I did remove the tops and take a peek into the hives. Both are filled with happy, apparently healthy bees. I put some pollen cakes into each hive and really had to clear bees from the tops of the frames to make room for the cakes. After installing the moisture quilts and replacing the tops, I sat in a char and observed the hive entrances. There are lots of bees still bringing in pollen. I have no idea where they are getting it.

Entrance reducers put on Hive A and Hive B

I already had entrance reducers on both of these hives, but switched them to the tiniest (pinky finger width) opening. I didn't go into the hives but observed bees moving freely in and out of each. Pulled the top off of Hive A and saw lots of activity through the hole in the inner cover.

Hive A is three deep supers tall, with lots of honey in each. Hive B is two deeps tall, with plenty of honey at last inspection.

Hive A Honeybound

Okay, this mystifies me. Several weeks ago, I combined two weaker hives (A and C.) I inspected the combined Hive A today (which is 3 deeps tall) and it is practically honey-bound and STUFFED with bees! I looked at frames in all three supers and could find no brood, outside of what looked like a handful of capped brood in the center of a cell. And a lot of it isn't honey - a lot is open nectar in cells. Not sure what I'm seeing here.

Pulled 10 frames of honey from Hive B

The honey came from the top deep super of a 3-deep hive (Hive B), leaving a brood box on the bottom and another full super of honey above it. The frames were pulled at noon. Temperature was in the mid-sixties and overcast. I did not use a smoker and the bees, while active and not happy, were manageable. On examination, I saw a bit of brood on one side of one frame, so I popped it into my other hive, trading it for an empty frame on that hive. That leaves me a net nine frames of honey to extract tomorrow morning.

Hive inspection - Hive A

Today I inspected Hive A - the newly combined hive. It's too early to check on the status of the queen (I left both queens in the hive when combining), so I was just checking this time to make sure the newspaper had been eaten through and that the hives were successfully combined. There was no newspaper at all in the hive. I removed the top two supers and did my best to place brood near brood and honey near honey. I made sure the two bottoms supers all contained full frames and moved empty frames to the top super. Currently, the top super is about half empty. All looks good.

Reconfigured Combined Hive A

Last week, I combined Hives A and C. Several days ago, I opened the hive to make sure the newspaper had been eaten through and the hives were integrated. Since then, however, I have noticed hundreds (maybe a thousand?) bees clustered beneath the screened bottom board UNDER the hive. This has been going on for several days. The temperatures are warm by Pacific Northwest standards: at, near, or just over 90 degrees during the day and very warm at night.

Combined hives A and C with newspaper method

As I'm a bit worried about these two hives going into winter (insufficient bulk/food stores) I decided to combine them today using the newspaper method - placing a single sheet of newspaper between the hives. I put Hive C (one super) on top of Hive A (two supers) - with the sheet of newspaper in between. I did not remove one of the queens; I know it's a risk, but I left both queens and with luck, the bees will make the right choice. Stay tuned ...

Basically, this was just a reintegration of the bees that swarmed July 8, more than a month and a half ago ...

Hive Inspection - A and C

Opened up hives A and C (A being the hive that swarmed and C being the recipient of that swarm once captured.) Hive A is two deep supers - observed normal activity and brood in the cells. Hive C is one super, about half fully drawn with brood, capped brood and open nectar cells.

Hive Inspection - 08/09/2017

Since the hive split on July 8, I have tried not to disturb the bees much. Outside of a quick inspection on July 23, this is the first time I've looked inside. Even this is a very cursory inspection.

Hive A - This is the hive the swarm left, taking the queen with her. This hive has produced a new queen on its own. There are 2 supers on this hive - the top one is still empty but a frame or two in the center has been mostly drawn and had uncapped honey. I saw lots of bees in the bottom super but did not inspect, having verified the existence of a queen in the last inspection.

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