May 9th, 2017
It's been about 10 days since we've checked in on our little ladies. The weather hasn't been so good so we decided to give them a break before our next check. However, over the past few days, the weather has improved and Kyle, with some help from his pal Mickey, did a quick inspection before the weather turned poor again. Here's the buzz...
While we were initially worried about our bees progress, a good few days of weather has really kicked them into full gear. They have reason to expand their hive and are doing so in short order. Both hives are drawing comb on their foundations because they need more space to store pollen, nectar and make a larger nursery.
Kyle also took time to rearrange some of the frames to encourage the bees to continue drawing even more comb. To do so, he removed honey and pollen frames from the middle of the hive, placed them on the outer edges and then inserted blank frames. Additionally, he inserted some new frame into the brood chamber to encourage the bees to build out comb for brood. This will help the bees continually push to draw out their comb which will help us later on when it comes to honey extraction.
Both queens have been laying eggs, in good solid groupings. This is an indication of good genetic traits among our queens which will result in good genetics in their offspring, thus a strong hive. One great development is that our uncapped brood has now been capped by the nurse bees and we should expect new bees to join our family in a few short weeks!
One of the many things that will likely plague our hives in the future is a mite called Verroa Destructor. Yes, that's the name, it's pretty metal too. It is a little piece of $*iT mite that attaches on honeybees' thorax and weakens the bee by sucking hemolymph (insect blood) from its body. It's basically a bee vampire. The worst part is that when it reproduces, its spawn attaches on to larva of baby bees and grows as the bee grows. This is a problem that has plagued beekeepers for many many years and is the cause many colonies's death. So, it's important to treat this and try to break the mite lifecycle. One of the important tools is using oxalic acid, which is a naturally occurring acid, found in honey (and basically every plant and vegetable). It is harmless to bees, but destroys the destructor; we treated both colonies with this to help combat the mites. So far, our bees are mite free and we hope to keep it that way.
We also took some time to order some new equipment from Brushy Mountain Bee Supply. We picked up:
- Helmet and Veil - A third set, so we can take our friends and family on hive inspections and satisfy the curious cats of our town.
- Bee brush - a soft bristle brush that is used to gently escort our ladies off of frames that need a closer look inspection.
- Queen Excluders - a grate that keeps the queen in the brood chamber, but allows for other bees to move freely, to prevent her from laying eggs in the frames with honey.
At first we were hesitant about queen excluders but we began to realize that if we didn't keep the queen in the brood chamber, she'd start laying eggs in frames with honey. This isn't normally a problem with a large hive as you can organize the supers to naturally keep the queen out. However with small hives, it's difficult. And when it comes to honey extraction, it will be very difficult to keep a sanitary operation when bee larva is mixed with honey. We don't want unsavory harvesting and also don't want to waste little baby bees in the process. So for now, we decided to install the excluders to make our operation a bit "neater"...we're just waiting for the weather to break to do so.
Thanks for reading this week and we'll be back soon with some more updates!
Keep it buzzed,
Brothers In Bees