Monday, July 15, 2013

2013-06-01: Closing the Barn Door

Bees generally swarm when they feel crowded.  They can feel crowded for various reasons, but one obvious one is that they have filled up too much of their brood next with honey and the queen doesn’t have enough space to lay.  The solution for this is to get supers (boxes with frames intended predominantly or entirely for honey production or to swarm frames full of honey in the brood next with new empty frames (either empty drawn comb or undrawn foundation, the former I believe is preferred if you think they may decide to swarm before they can draw out foundation).

Obviously, I should have been paying more attention to my bees and have done either of these sooner.  I probably should have had a super on all of my hives back when the dandelions bloomed, but the season had gone from being stuck in first to kicking into gear very quickly.  So, today my plan was to get some supers on those hives!

I had some drawn comb from the previous year and I also spent much of the evening before assembling more frames.  I had also started to enact a scheme to make use of the shallow supers that I had got used,something I wouldn’t recommend but my mother had got them for free several years before from somebody who was getting out of bees and was just stacking them on the side of the road, this was while she was on the way home from the super discount green house sale and the car full of plants so she and my sis squeezed as many as they could into the Subaru and this has nothing to do with my bee inspection.  Anyways, back to the shallow sups, they are not as efficient as mediums but I decided that they might be a nice way to provide upper entrances and extra ventilation so I had drilled out some holes etc…  I also had prepped some medium supers as well.  Last year I had always put in 10 frames/super just like in the brood next.  However, I had read that, if the are already drawn, 9 frames can be placed in with a little extra space and the bees will fill them out a little bit farther so that they will be easier to uncap and there will be more honey per frame thus making the extraction process a little more efficient.  So I did that in those that I had drawn comb.  In other supers I tried to interspace drawn with undrawn foundation.. the drawn providing the guide so that the bees don’t draw out the comb in odd directions and hopefully the smell of used wax might lure the bees up to the supers. You will also note that I like to put the year I made the frame so that in the future I will have a good idea of which foundation should be replaced first.  This year I also had the idea of adding an M for mediums and S for shallows so when they are in storage, where I may have a mix of frame types in whatever boxes can hold them, I can just look at the tops and see how many I have of each rather than having to lift each one out to be sure.

2013-06-01 11.38.06 Setting up Supers   2013-06-01 11.38.17 Setting up Supers

I also decided to try something new by filling up a pointy tipped ketchup/mustard squeeze bottle with mineral oil in order to use to lay down a bead of grease between boxes and along the groove the frames rest on.  The hope is that the mineral oil will help to me to break the propolis seal in the future.  Also, if a little splashed oil causes grief to a few mites, so much the better.

2013-06-01 13.05.08 Bee Inspection

Purple (aka Aubergine):Very full, bees some bearding in the front.  Removed the drone frame and replaced it.  The bees appeared to be putting some honey into the cells of the brood chamber.  This spurred me to put on two supers (a shallow and a medium).  I did not add an excluder in since the bees appeared to be filling up the brood chamber with honey I wanted the queen to have a space to lay.

2013-06-01 11.54.10 Bee Inspection   2013-06-01 12.04.01 Bee Inspection

Sage:  Shallow supper heavy but not yet capped.  Removed one frame in brood chamber to add a drone frame.  Added a medium super.  Left the offset thick style excluder in place since the bees seem to like having that gap at the top and its warming up enough so that the extra ventilation is probably helpful.

2013-06-01 12.05.52 Bee Inspection   2013-06-01 12.09.47 Bee Inspection

Dark Green (Holy?):  Pretty mehh…

2013-06-01 12.18.49 Bee Inspection

Blue (hmmm.. should come up with a botanical name, Indigo?  Wode?):  Soso population, but some frames had plenty of capped brood.  Inserted the frame removed from Sage.

2013-06-01 12.24.09 Bee Inspection

Red (Rose?):  Frames heavy with honey.  Did find some brood, put in             a drone frame and swapped out one honey frame with a frame that was half empty from the blue deep box on top of Red that I was using as a way to store frames.  Hopefully this will give them some more space to lay.

Yellow (Sunflower? Lemon?): I didn’t take any notes but the pictures look ok.

2013-06-01 12.44.08 Bee Inspection   2013-06-01 12.47.59 Bee Inspection


2013-06-01 11.46.16 Bee Inspection

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