Monthly Archives: July 2012

Healthy Hive

A lovely close-up taken by my fabulous photographer.

I just recently learned that a hive can become “honey-bound,” which means when new bees hatch, the worker bees fill the cells with honey and don’t leave enough room for the queen to lay. Of course, I started worrying that my hive was going to get honey bound since there was little evidence of larvae or eggs last week. Fortunately, my happy bees know more about keeping a hive than I do and they weren’t worried at all.

We opened the hive this morning and discovered they have started drawing comb on many of the frames in the honey super. Maybe I’ll be able to harvest a bit of honey in the fall, but only if they have enough to last the winter. I don’t want to take away from what they’ll need.

I kept a log again of what was happening in the brood chamber because it’s just too much to remember. Two frames are completely filled with capped honey on both sides, two frames have one side that is entirely capped honey, and one frame is a mix of pollen, bee bread, and honey.

A worker bee in a frame of larvae and capped brood. If you look closely, you can see larvae of different sizes since they are from eggs laid on different days.

The rest of the frames are a beautifully healthy mix of fat larvae and capped brood with honey around the edges for hatching bees. All that capped brood means there were eggs last week and I just couldn’t see them. My faithful queen is still working hard. Since the brood chamber looked good, we didn’t move into the lower hive body.

A frame of capped brood that will hatch soon, larvae being tended by nurse bees, and honey around the edges.

Hial also got a couple of shots of bees coming in with bright yellow pollen packets.

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Baby Bee and LOTS of Honey

Over a week ago, I did a quick check to see what progress was being made in the honey super. I checked again today and they haven’t done a thing. No comb has been drawn at all. So, I took the super off in order to check the brood chamber. The last time I checked that box of frames almost every center frame had eggs, larvae, and capped brood with honey and pollen around the edges of the frame. It’s a different chamber today.

Almost every frame is white with capped honey. They must be storing up for winter.

The first frame still has no comb, and since the same frame in the box below it is also not drawn, I don’t think they plan to use it. The next two frames are all honey and many of the other frames are fairly full of honey as well. None of the frames have eggs or larvae and only a scattering of capped brood. I didn’t want to disturb the hive body below, and since there is no evidence of supercedure (when the bees decide to replace the queen) or swarming (when the bees decide to leave), I’m going to assume for now that she is still ok. If in a few weeks there’s no evidence of new bees in the brood chamber, I’ll go deeper and check the hive body below.

This bee watched Hial for quite a while.

One of my fears came true today: I dropped a frame. I was using my frame lifter and I guess it wasn’t fully engaged around the wood. Suddenly the frame just fell. Fortunately, I was holding it over the hive, so it didn’t fall far and all the bees that were knocked off fell into the hive. But it definitely stirred them up. Hial gave them a couple of puffs of smoke while I carefully put the frame back in and we stepped back for a few minutes while they settled down, which didn’t take long. At least they’re pretty docile and not easily angered.

While we were inspecting, we noticed a small hole in a capping and took a closer look. It was a baby bee just starting to chew her way through the capping. There were at least three on this particular frame starting to chew through. Check it out on youtube.

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Inspection on Independence Day

I admit, I expected more work to be done after two weeks with the new honey super. At least some comb should be drawn, I thought. But no. It’s still bare with not a trace of new comb.

But there are bees up there, and they are working on making wax for the comb, so that’s a start. And the extra space helps keep them a little cooler, too, which I’m sure they appreciate. The beekeeper for Bees and Beekeeping explained a couple of months ago that the bees all strung together, as in the picture below, have filled up with honey in order to make wax.

I also smooshed two hive beetles. They don’t hurt the bees or larvae, but they are a nuisance, so I’ll have to do something about them. There’s some treatment I can put on the ground around the hive and I can bait them with cooking oil. I’ll try the cooking oil first and see how that goes. I don’t want them making a mess in the hive with their pesky eggs and larvae.

Peeking down through the super into the top brood chamber.

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