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Sunday, April 30, 2006

A [realtively] Clean Bill of Health

Overall, all three colonies are in good to excelent condition by my standards, with the exception of varroa levels. On the good news I have managed to order some Apiguard from Dadant and I'm not seeing quite so many bees with deformed wings.
Harvest in three weeks...or so.

Italian Hive:
I was concerned about these bees for the past few weeks given the queen was developing a poor laying patern and the number appeared to be dropping. Currently, they have two supers filled with capped honey, and the bottom brood box has capped brood, eggs, larvae but, oddly, hardly any honey. Pollen levels were also a little on the low side but, with some flowers constantly putting out pollen despite the lack of water, that is low in my concerns. Traffic near the enterence has been relatively low, but, I assume that's mostly due to the lack of nectar given the dry conditions. Given how few bees there are (still plenty but, conciderably lower population than the russian hive), I think that they won't really build up their population untill July. In the next three weeks, I expect to harvest at least one super, just so they don't have quite so much surface area to protect...and also since I'm starting to run low on my own supply. Today, just as I was closing the hive up, I actually got stung where I've never been before, on the back of the left thigh. Definatly painfull!

Captured Hive:
They currently cover two frames and the queen appears to be laying abundantly. They are very docile given, I probaly didn't even need smoke when I opened them up. Still very small, they cover two medium frames which have some honey and pollen but, mostly brood, and given their light weight, I think feeding will be required. They also have a very nice, leather back italian color. Next week I'll get a photo or two.

Russian Hive:
Currently the most populous hive, the russians are the most aggressive and have the most honey. Two supers are just about capped and, the swarming impulse is ever present in the colony. I had nearly an entire frame of queen cells and plenty of queen cups. Oddly enough, two frames are very poorly drawn and they are actualy building comb near perpendicular to the frame. One is full of capped honey and I figure I'll cull it next week as well as the other one. Between the one filled with honey and the wall of the hive, the bees actualy built a solid side of honeycomb filled with capped honey. Upon scraping it off, it fell to the bottom of the hive and I had to stick my hand down inside with about three inches of manuvering room in a box lined with thousands of honeybees. They didn't really like me sticking my hand in there and, to be honest, even after the second super was removed, the bees kept becoming louder and more took flight. While the russians are intimidating, they really don't sting too much.

All in all, I'm confortable with the state of each of my colonies and they seem to have a secure future.

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