Monthly Archives: August 2014

Weak Hives and Strong Hives

It was a pretty morning for hive inspections. I’ve been waiting to see how the brood would turn out with the queen hive one raised in early July. Her first batch of eggs hatched around the end of July. She’s busy continuing to lay more eggs, but best of all – her babies are very calm. You never know how they’ll turn out when a queen is exposed to a variety of wild bees. Last year was disastrous when another hive raised their own queen, so I’m very relieved this one turned out well. That means I shouldn’t need to replace her this fall. If her brood had been mean, I would have removed her and combined the hive with another. Hopefully they remain calm and happy.

I gave up my battle with another hive that’s been trying to replace my Buckfast queen (beekeeping word for that phenomenon is supersedure). Every week I check and remove queen cells, determined to keep my expensive queen on the throne, and every week they make more, determined that I have no idea what I’m doing. After a couple of months of this, I’ve decided to let it play and see how it goes. Truthfully though, she’s not laying well. I thought they might have needed more space to raise brood, but when I added more frames, the queen moved up and now there is no brood, eggs, or larva in the bottom box. There’s not even in honey or pollen down there. So, I reduced it down to a single deep box again and left the three queen cells in place. I’ve read from a number of experienced beekeepers that when they try to argue quality with the bees, the bees always win. The queen cells should be ready to hatch in about a week. First one out is the winner (she’ll kill the others before they can emerge). I don’t know if she’ll coexist with her mother for a while or if the worker bees will kill the current queen. This is the first time I’ve had a hive unhappy with their queen. If it doesn’t work out well, I’ll remove whatever queen survives the ordeal and combine the whole hive with another.   

My other questionable hive has the Cordovan queen from California. She’s consistently laying and always has at least 2 full frames of brood and larva, but the workers are not storing enough nectar or pollen to get them through the winter. I took two frames of honey from another hive in late July, and they haven’t used much of it, which is good. But I’d really like to see better stores.

I have three small hives that need a little extra care and three very strong hives with lots of honey in the works. My largest hive has an upper entrance so the foragers don’t have to climb through frames of brood to deposit their gleanings. I’d like to put upper entrances on a couple of other hives as well. Some long wedges or simple shims would do the trick.

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