Friday, September 3, 2010

The Story of Three Hives

Friday, August 20th was a perfect day to relax at the home apiary and enjoy the bees. We will report on three of the hives in which we have recently been making some changes.

Hive #1: This was a hive that held a newly grafted queen introduced with a double screen queen excluder. Four days before, nothing much was going on in this hive so Greg decided there were not enough bees in the top. So he decided to move some from the bottom to the top. However, these relocated bees did not show their corporate ID's at relocation and it turns out Greg moved the Freight Division rather than the H.R. department (in apiarist's terms, he moved the Field bees, not the nurse bees). The way we discovered this problem was that the bees went right back home to the bottom, but not before they had cleaned out the top of the hive completely!

Hive #2: Greg had earlier observed that this one just wasn't right. As usual, his diagnosis was correct. This hive has a laying worker, which is a big problem since she can only lay Drone bees (for our younger generation, they are the "Scrubs" of the hive: no job, little ambition, no ummm...stinger). This situation calls for swift action.

Hive #3: This was a nuc with a beautiful queen who had been made into a full-fledged hive with lots of promise. However, looks are sometimes deceiving. Despite her beauty, she was useless in the laying department. This situation may call for a manual coup d'etat.

With news like this, there could be no more relaxing with the hives. Greg turned to the bee lair for a planning session.

Saturday morning after honey and biscuits, Greg and James took off on a "fix or destroy" mission (in this writer's opinion, that phrase could describe each mission these two embark upon). Here are the updates on these by hive.

Hive #1: Here they found the old queen and took her out of the hive to place her in temporary confinement. Plans are to wait 23 hours before replacing her with a small breeding nuc and a new proven queen by the newspaper method. This method is simply placing a newspaper between the main hive and the nuc, placing small cuts in the paper, hoping the merger will be peaceful.

Hive #2: If you recall, this is the hive with the laying worker. They began by taking a nuc and a queen from an out yard (Jimmy's yard) and placing it in the place of the old hive. They took the old hive about 300 feet away and dumped all the bees out on a sheet, with hopes that only the worker bees would make their way back to the hive. Greeting the returning bees would be the new nuc and new queen placed in the old hive. Greg put a queen excluded on the bottom box in hopes that she would deter the drones and laying worker from returning. We have not had very much luck in instances of laying workers. In the past, we have been successful by simply placing a frame of open brood in the old hive. This had to be done twice, but they finally made a new queen.

Hive #3: This hive also got a little treatment with the newspaper method. We will continue to post updates on how the sisters are getting along this fall!

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