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Saturday, January 27, 2007

An Eventful Day in the Beeyard

This morning I decided I would check on the hives in an outyard of mine. I hadn't been there since I had to remove the Top Bar Hive on December 25th and, hadn't done a full inspection there for at least a month and a half. To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure what I would see there but, I had a guess that they would probably be in the same state of health as my italian hive at my house, or better. So, I unpacked the super I had fummigated and, was surprised to find that cockroaches had appearantly chewed through the bag containing the super and the PDB. WIth the bag removed, I could see that SHB had completely torn apart and slimed half of it and, the other half had become a black tangle of webbing and wax moths. Absent mindedly, I put the whole box outside and just loaded up two supers of foundation into the back of the car.

At the apiary, both of the hives had heavy traffic. They were bringing in alot of light, almost faded yellow pollen from Spanish Needle. I quickly lit the smoker and, with veil and coat on, began checking on the "russian" hive. This has been my worst hive and can't seem to make strait, good comb if it's life depended on it. They had the super still completely filled with honey and, the broodbox below was spilling over with bees. Good population. I began by attempting to pry a frame one in from the outside. I've known for a while that most of the brood was lumped against the other side so, I figured it'd be a good place to start. I loosened it as best I could with the hive tool but, it still wouldnt' budge. I eventually just slid it under the top bar and *pop* off it came. "I definately should have glued that." I said, more of an auditory "note to self" than anything else. Complaining a bit about the sorry state of the combs, I was sliding the frames and picking out any that looked interesting. I saw one with a particularly heavy group of bees and, lifted it out. There, in the center of it, was a large, well formed queen. She diffinately isn't the russian one I installed November 2005. She had no striping and a very light, amberish color to her abdomen. The brood pattern was probably the best I've ever seen in that hive which, although not great, is better than I thought it would be. I placed the frames back in, lifted onto them the super full of 100% capped honey, and ontop of that, placed a super of foundation. Another thing I had noticed was that these bees are much nicer than they were last year.

I proceeded to work the adjacent hive that I had installed from a package on June 16, 2006. The cinderblocks that stood next to it were the only remenant of it's previous neighbor; the top bar hive. I removed the cover and smoked them librally. This hive was full of bees, so full I'm suprised they haven't swarmed. I shuffled through a few frames of the super on it and, it was just like the "russian/half russian" hive, all filled completely with honey. It's almost aparant that the bees never even touched their stored honey this year. They had filled the gap between the brood chamber and the super with so much burr comb that I had to stick my hivetool in just about as far as it would go and not just pry the box, but every single frame. With that super off and on the side, I smoked them a bit more and had to scrape off all the burr comb. They didn't enjoy that process in the slightest and gave me a few stings in my left leg. In the broodbox, the outer two frames on each side had nothing but honey and pollen and, the rest had brood from top bar to bottom bar, and end bar to end bar. I'm sure this has mostly to do with the young queen and conditions but, it sure makes you feel like you're doing something right to see a brood pattern like that. Put simply, the hives in the outyard are currently in the best condition I've ever seen them in. Well, other than that broken frame.

I arived home after about an hour spent with the bees. But, my job was far from over. Remember that super I had laid down outside the garage? Well, the two hives at my house had taken to it and, the air was practically a swarm of bees. The buzz was auditory over twenty feet away! I had thought that given it all had been eaten by waxmouths and fouled by Small hive beetle larvae that there wouldn't be a trace of anythign the bees would find "appetizing". Appearantly, I was wrong. I lifted the super into my garage, turned on a light and shut the door. With a hose, I dilluted any of the honey that had spilled onto the driveway and, after about 3 hours, I had enough bees on the flourecent light in the garage that they practically eclipsed it.

All in all, beekeeping has been the learning experience it so often is. But, through it all with the presentation of constant new challenges, it never get's boring.

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