2016-06-10

Almost too late...

The last time I made it here to the farm, I had refilled the feeder buckets and added pollen patties to each hive.  That was May 22.  Last evening, June 9th at about 19:45, I went back to the apiary to do a quick check to see how far behind I had gotten.  Not as bad as it could have been, but things were pretty crowded in two of the hives, and just about right in the first hive.  That means the west hive is slower than the other two for some reason.  Not sure what is going on there...  .

The Farm had received 0.6" of rain the night before, and a short shower around noon.  I figure roughly 0.7" in the last 24 hours.  The high temp for the day had been around 82dF with a steady breeze all day.  The hives all looked to be in good shape from the outside.  Waterway mowing had been done, but not within 50' of the hives, so alfalfa, clover and various grasses surround the hives up to the 4'x4' base of gravel on landscape cloth.  The surrounding area is all blooms and early stage fruit, mostly blackberry.  The feeders were of course empty.  Hive entrances had 20-25 bees moving air through the entrance.  The bees were settling in for the evening, so there was not a lot of traffic in and out.

I started with the East hive.  The Italians.  These bees have been very busy!  All frames were comb-drawn except the outer two which were about 40% drawn.  The next two frames in were almost fully capped with honey on top, pollen down a few inches, and brood below.  A lot of brood!  And the hive was so full of bees that it was amazing that they could navigate at all.  I pulled one of the center frames (which was heavy!)  and noticed the queen down along the bottom of the frame.  There were some drone cells as well along the bottom of that frame.  Overall, I gauged this to be a very healthy hive, and that I was damned lucky to have not waited another week to get to it.

The center hive was also heavily populated with comb and capped cells throughout except for those outer two frames which were being worked on, perhaps 25% complete with comb.  The next two frames in are almost full, and the center frame that I pulled had some drone cells along the bottom.  I did not manage to see the queen, but did not look all that hard either.  Oddly, the second empty deep which held only the feeder bucket had lots of bees hanging around in it.  They did not seem to be doing a whole lot, just hanging out there.

The West hive seems a bit weaker than the other two.  Population has certainly increased, but not to the extent of the other two hives.  This hive was 80% done with drawn comb and plenty of brood, pollen and some honey cells.  Some of the bees seemed a bit lethargic, though I might be imagining that.  The hive is not bad, just not quite as strong as the other two.