2017-04-09

Minor Disasters and Optimism

Finally warmed up and dried out enough that I could get out and check the hives.  The Italians are doing great!  The Carnie's took a late beating due to defective feeder buckets which leaked and soaked the inside of the hives.  Both survived with much reduced populations for starting out this year.  That is a major setback, but not catastrophic.  I think they will survive.  Both hives have queens which are laying eggs and being cared for.  There is activity outside the hives with bees bringing in pollen which is really important in the spring, as it provides the needed protein to maintain all that activity.  So this will be a rebuilding season for these two hives as compared to a production season.  That is fine, ...one lives and learns.

Looking forward, I have four new hives all set up and ready to receive shipments of new bees.  We are taking a new approach this time around.  The new bees will be coming in what are called 'nucs'.  Instead of a little cage with three pounds of bees and a jar of sugar water, these bees come in what looks like a small hive made of cardboard.  They come on established frames on which the queen has already been laying eggs.  On simply transfers the frames from the nucs to the hives, adds some empty frames and lets the bees do what bees do well.  A much better starting point.  And the cost is minimally more.  I am optimistic about this approach to purchasing bees.  So that accounts for three of the new hives that have been placed in the apiary.

The fourth hive will be a walk-away split.  The hive of Italians which is heavily populated will have half of its brood frames removed and placed in the last of the new hives along with some frames of capped honey and some of the worker bees.  The queen will stay with the existing hive.  Once the worker bees in the new hive realize they are without a queen, they will make one.  That process takes about four weeks.  There is an option to buy a queen to place in the new hive, but I think it makes more sense to have the hive generate its own queen.  There is less chance of rejection, and the new queen will mate with drones that have been reared and have acclimated to the local surroundings.  Better genetics I think.

Anyway, this has been yet another learning experience.  I expect there will be more...

Loaded with pollen and resting in the sun for a bit...

Apiary expansion.  Last years hives are white.  The new hives are natural wood.