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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I found the TBH queen! (photos)


Captured hive:

They've done extensive drawing of comb in the last two weeks. The nuc is just about full but, given there temperment is starting to show and, they aren't large enough to even build up for winter on their own, I've decided that I will have to kill this queen and combine it with the italian hive. This is the part that every beekeeper hates but, given I am in an urban area, I can't have any tollorance for overly deffensive bees.

Italian hive:

The cabbage palm honeyflow is on. It's really a poor honey. The bees never seem to get anywhere near the 18% moisture necessary for honey. It usually is capped around 21%. Some of the people at the TBBA have said that this will cause fermentation and, they've seen the tops pop off barrals from the pressure. As for the hive itself, they've drawn out 7 out of ten frames of a super, so I added another. Now there's 1 super of foundation, 1 super mostly drawn with ripening honey and 2 supers ready for extraction. Down in the brood box, the queen has a much improving brood pattern. She's laying in the perfet football shape on 7 of the frames. In my book, she's earned another year of leading this hive (contrary to most recomendations of annual requeening).


Russian hive:

Thses bees NEED requeening. This seems to be the worst hive of the bunch. They have bad frames and, even the good ones have bad comb. They're also becoming more deffensive. I've concidered requeening them for some time, so, I guess that time has come. I'll probably replace the current queen with an italian queen. Italians seem to ALWAYS be nicer, more productive and draw comb faster and more completely. Not much to report on this hive except my general dissatisfaction of all the above.

Package hive:

This hive is rapidly expanding. They've got 3 frames full of honey and pollen and the rest is almost solid brood. Next year this should be one of my big producers.


Here comes the fun part. These bees have been wonderfull and, I finally today have a picture of the queen. Last time I got a good look at her, I was shaking the swarm of bees into the hive body. The bees are on bars 1-15 with bars 1-8 75% or more drawn. I'm starting to see how the bees transition from a core brood area of nothing but workers to farther back in the hive, around bars 10 or 11, where it's almost all drones. After that, comes the honey. There must be a good flow going on given, they're drawing out wonderfully, and, so many of the combs are filled with ripening honey. As of today, the bees are actively present in half the hive.


Here you can see my usuall photo of the cluser of bees expanding. All that white comb is freshly drawn, indicating to me that there is currently a honeyflow;cabbage palm. I think I'll let the bees eat if...

Heres bar 12. The queen was on this bar. This bar had less than a dozen cells with brood and, I didn't find a single egg. There was, however, alot of ripening honey and even come capped.

Here's "her highness" her self.

Here's the last shot of the photogenic queen. She's scurrying over the top bar but, I did manage to get this shot of her abdomen. She seems to be on of the largest queens I've ever seen and, she's deffinately one of the most productive...

...just check out that brood pattern. Nothing but workers! bar 7.

Here's bar number 4. The cells are quite a bit darker from the generations of bees being raised in them.

Final note: If you want to see larger versions of these photos go to http://flickr.com/photos/backyardbeekeeper

Monday, July 10, 2006

100th Post!!!!!!

Today I went over and saw the remaining three hives...then went for a swim in the landowners' pool. Hey, it's hot out and wearing all that gear in the sun is even hotter. Anyways, before I cooled off in 8 feet deep of liquid salvation, I did get something accomplished.

Russian Hive:

They're building up but, still not much stronger than the package hive. They still have eggs and everything but, they also still seem to have a disablility of drawing comb. These bees must be lazy given, there's a honeyflow going on and they can't seem to get their act in gear. I'm probably going to order up a queen either later this month or in august to replace the current one. I'll probably go with italian, which means I'll have to find a better way to name my hives.

Package Hive:

These bees are expanding just fine and I have stopped feeding them. The queen is a powerhouse of egg laying with 6 frames just about filled with eggs or other brood. They've expanded to about 7 frames and, are currently on their way to becoming a strong colony. These bees are also very nice but, at their small size I can't really make to strong an estimation of their threshold. They came from the same company that supplied the package for my first hive, and they came out just fine. My prediction is that, next year, I'll have at least 4 colonies producing honey, rather than the current 1.


Here's where the photos come in. I walked up to the hive and saw that they've clearly done some expanding.

These bees have expanded to the point that they have fully drawn combs on bars 1-4, 5-7 are 3/4 to 1/2 drawn and the remaining 8-12 are less than 1/2 drawn. Basically, from the end it looks like this :

Compare this to the photos on May 14th and you'll see just how much they've expanded. It looks like my concern of them being africanized is unfounded given, I've yet to receive more than 2 stings when I go through the colony. I'll have to see how they do over the next year given, that will be the best guage of temper.
They currently have a few small patches of honey stored but, I don't think they'll have anything potentially harvestable untill September. This is probably the most fun hive in the beeyard, hense, why else would I always want to take photos. It's a novelty, even to other beekeepers. Unfortunately, most don't like them but, most don't wear gloves either. I'm the minority.

Here's the sixth comb:

On this photo you can see a definate line where the bees first drew out comb, those bees emerged and then, the bees felt they needed more space and drew out even more comb. That's why there's a transition from the darker comb to come that is more of a gentle yellow.

FINAL NOTES: 100th post...woohoo!

Next year, I could be producing over 40 gallons of honey...we'll see how that goes.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I finally made a movie!

My Music Video

I took the photos, video and wrote/played the music. Also, look at the post below this for an update on the bees. Hope y'all like it.

Sorry...I forgot about you.

For the last few weeks I've been doing my inspections like usuall but, actually forgot about this blog. I had forgotten my cammera on all of them except today's so, I'll explain them.

Last week:

The daughter of the people who's land my hives are on was here from the Washington D.C. area and wanted to see the hives. I had brought along an extra veil so, I didn't see why not. She did take some photos and, hopefully, she'll e-mail some of them to me. She was, though, probably one of the bravest non-beekeeper's who has seen my hives given, in one sentance, I convinced her to hold a bar from the KTBH for a photo. Gloveless non the less!

Russian hive: This hive is about were I'd expect it to be given they swarmed not to long ago. I'm probably going to requeen them in the fall given they swarmed and I don't exactly trust the genetics in this area. I really haven't liked this hive at all but, like anything, don't knock it, 'till you try it. And I tried it...but won't again. I'll probably requeen with Italian, given I've liked those quite a bit in my other hives.

Package Hive: This is where I need to do some updating. I installed the package as usuall on June 17 and came back the next week. They've had plenty of sugar water and, the queen was released safe and sound. They have a good brood cluster and have expanded out to 7-8 frames.

TBH: They're on bars 1-12 with 1-5 fully drawn and those after it anywhere from 3/4 to 1/8. These have got to be some of the nicest bees I have and, even my guest in the feild was willing to hold a bar. They've had a very good brood nest orientation and, are begining to store up honey and pollen. With any luck, I may get a comb or two of harvest in September or October.


Italian hive: This hive has a good 2 supers full of honey like this and, is begining to draw out a super I added earlier. This is a sure sign of a honeyflow.

This is honeycomb perfect for extraction. I have a full 2 supers that look like this. With any luck I'll get another super on the current flow. I think that are common summer rains are probably the cause of this honeyflow. Unfortunately, I have no idea what exactly is blooming. Today, I had a friend of mine, Adam, come out and see the bees. At the end he said, "I have a newfound respect for what you do." Complementing me on my "Kahoneys". Anyways...back to the hive. I got down to the brood chamber and the frames on each end are COMPLETELY filled with honey. Working inwards, there are no queen cells (indicating no plans to swarm or supercead their queen) and every stage of brood present from eggs to emerging adults. This hive is doing just fine and clearly doesn't need to be requeened. Unfortunately, not all was well with Adam, given I forgot to warn him that the bees, if they sting, will go for areas of contrast. His black wristband became a bee-sting-belt, given a few stung the band, and one stung the neighboring flesh. All's fine, however, he was surprised that the sting hurt so much less than those of the paper wasps, which are so numerous and so often confused with a bee in this area.
Also, as a final note, after I harvest I'll have to treat for Varroa mites with the Apiguard.

Captured Hive: These bees still haven't outgrown their nuc, but, they're on their way. So far, they have completely drawn 4 frames and half way drawn 1. I'll probably need to move them into a full deep next month or so. They do have a good brood patern on the frames which they do cover. The frames are just mediums so, I'll have to swap them with deeps one by one. Here's a little example of how the brood is looking.

Earlier, they had what's known as "shotgun brood" where every other cell seems to be missing a larva. This could be a sign of a mechanical resistance to varroa via removal of the infected pupae and the varroa mite itself.