Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First big inspection of the new hives

So today my bees have been in the two hives for 12 days.
I had a few hive chores to do, so I did a full inspection today. Full inspections are not done often or it would disturb the bees too much.

First I removed the sugar syrup baggie feeders and switched the shim and the inner cover in order to remove the extra space over the frame tops while keeping good ventilation going. There seems to be plenty of pollen and bloom so I am quitting the syrup (which is commonly given to brand new hives to give them a little jump start). I have last year's honey still in frames to give them anyway.
The bees love the big upper entrance and I've widened/chiseled the entrance of the inner covers to 2" wide.

Then I checked to see whether they had eaten any of the honey in the frame of old honey I had placed inside on the edges, honey from my hive last year that died over the winter. They hadn't touched it yet, but I left the honey frames in since there were several frames still undrawn for them to expand into, so no harm in it.

Did a thorough inspection of every frame very slowly and carefully. I was determined to move slowly and gently so the bees and I would all stay calm. Both hives are very packed with bees on their original 5 deep frames each of nuc they came on. Both are beginning to build comb on the two neighboring wax foundation frames on either side, but not on the farther out frames yet. I'm fine with that since it's only been 12 days.

I couldn't see any eggs, there were so many solid-packed bees covering the capped brood frames that it was really hard to get a look at what was there under the nurse bees- I did however see white larvae in worker sized cells in both hives! And they looked to be no more than 7 days old, still not that big, so they must have been laid as eggs after the queens were out of their cages. From the timing, couldn't have been laid before the nucs arrived 12 days ago, or they would have been pupae by now.

Best news- I found the queens in both hives! And they looked wonderful...active and large with very long abdomens. One abdomen was reddish brown and the other was a little more golden. So cool!!! It was important to find the queen in the strong hive since I wanted to transfer one frame of brood and nurse bees from there over to the weaker hive. Sure wouldn't want to accidentally transfer the queen!
So I found the queens and was careful to immediately take a brood frame packed with nurse bees that was located far away from the strong hive queen, and while smoking everyone lightly I transferred the brood+nurse frame into a side brood slot in the weaker hive. I put an empty wax foundation frame from the weaker hive in its place in the strong hive (to the side of the brood area). Nobody seemed to make a fuss at all. I really think this one frame switch will help even the hives out and give the weaker hive a needed boost. Now they'll be on their own.

Overall everything looked terrific- active queens, worker larvae, no burr comb, lots of bees covering five deep frames in each hive, and no signs of disease or anything suspicious.

It was a real confidence builder for me. Now I feel good about leaving them alone for a while...they seem to be in good shape. Mission accomplished!

Did I get stung? Had good layers of regular comfy cotton clothes with the pants tucked in, my long beekeeper WalterKelly gloves, and a good veil and that was fine. No one could get to me at all, though the girls stayed pretty calm through the whole long ordeal...I was very gentle and slow.
HOWEVER....before I even got started in my preparations at all, I casually went to see what activity was going on there at the hives (like I've done a million times, just watching them peacefully from a nearby chair) and some nervy girl just nailed me on the back of the neck for no good reason at all! What a nerve!! She got me good...scraped off the stinger. It was very unlike them, they are always so laid back when I go sit by the hives. Maybe they knew I was planning to 'rock their world' later on in the day. lol! Good news is it doesn't seem to be hurting or swelling too much. Thus, sting #2 from my girls. Considering all the fussing- more than one typically would once things are established, I think that's pretty good. ;D

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