16 August 2009
If you're looking for a hobby that's rather formulaic, cut and dry and doesn't have a considerable learning curve, beekeeping isn't for you. The number of variables and potential courses of action keeps a newbie guessing -- and second guessing -- the plan. Of course, that's also part of what makes it fascinating.
We checked out Elizabeth's hive today and really didn't see any encouraging signs. I couldn't find any eggs and larvae. I'm not so good at finding eggs, but the larvae is much easier to find. I'm afraid the new queen that emerged may not have gotten mated and returned to the hive.
We talked to several folks at the Centre County Beek meeting and there are 2 options as I see them. First, is to re-queen and second is to combine the hives.
I have to get back in the hive tomorrow and look very carefully to make sure there is no queen.17 August 2009
Nancy and I spent a good half hour poring over the frames in the troubled hive in search of the queen and signs that she is in there laying. I've got nothin'. We can't see any eggs, larvae nor capped brood. I intend to try to get a new queen as soon as possible -- I hope by tomorrow.
While we were in there we cut out all the bridge comb that has been there since shortly after I installed the package. We have pretty well restored the bee space in the bottom hive body. I should have done that awhile ago.
Bertha's honey super is heavy and the experts have suggested that I harvest that honey within the next week or so. That's what we intend to do. We but an empty honey super between the 2nd hive body and the full super.18 August 2009
I reached the queen man today, but his schedule is such that the earliest I can get one of his ladies is this weekend. He has again suggested that I make certain the hive is queenless. I agree; it's just not as easy as it sounds for newbie :-).21 August 2009
We may get a new queen tomorrow, so we wanted to get into this hive and do a thorough inspection. I gathered some new information, but not necessarily what I was hoping to see.
- We found some larvae, but they are few and far between and it seems like they're trying to cap them with a spherical cap -- rather than flush with the top of the comb. I'm thinkin' drones?
- We found some queen cells that were not there on Monday.
- No luck finding the queen (which isn't real surprising).
The larvae and the general state of those frames is very different from our other hive and from what I saw earlier in the year when I know that the hive was queenright. I may be stretching my newbie beek power of analysis, but I'm afraid we might be developing some laying workers. The questions in my mind:
Could they be trying to raise a queen from drone larvae?
If the hive has a very young and newly mated queen, why would they already be building queen cells?
I realize that if we have laying workers, they will not accept a new queen, so perhaps the best option is to disassemble this hive. If it is laying workers, there are ways to create a nuc and try to get these bees into a queenright situation, but probably a more viable option is to dump this hive (i.e. shake the bees out and let them find a new home -- probably with the other hive). This would effectively combine the 2 hives. Once the nectar starts flowing in the spring I could do a split and either re-queen or let them raise their own queen. This may have the added benefit of averting a swarm next spring.
All we have to go on is our best judgment. At some point, we just have to make a decision and go with it. I think that time is getting near.Oh yeah ... what about the other hive.
We got bee escapes today, so we put one underneath the honey super on this hive. It's probably not going to do any good because the nights have been so warm and humid that the bees are not likely to go down below. The dew point has been hovering in the high 60s to low 70s for the past week. Quite uncomfortable.22 August 2009
Today is National Honeybee Awareness day. There are bee-related festivities happening at the Penn State's Wiley Research yard. We'll go learn some more and maybe get some more opinions on what to do with our problem hive.