Installing a nuc – removing queen cups before installing the nuc.
Hello! We’ve been having beautiful summer weather with lots of flowers in bloom, and thus great weather I would think for making honey! Daily outside checks on the hives have shown lots of activity and bees can be seen all over the property working flowers. Yay!
And a beautiful weather means beautiful days for checking the hives! However a brief check of the hives last week revealed some issues that I sought advice on an addressed this weekend.
Minor issue #1: Earlier this year I caught a “swarm” that had begun building comb, hanging on the eaves of a garage. I did it at night and for a while had been suspecting that I had not gotten the queen. We had made up a series of nucs at Duane’s and he was kind enough to let me have one, which I brought home Friday night after visiting a friend in Geneva : ). So first item of business for the day, installing this nuc! The few remaining workers from the swarm had begun laying eggs and attempted to raise a queen, so before installing I went through and removed queen cups, then moved the frames from the nuc into their new hive. They were looking strong and happy!
Lots of happy bees in a nice strong looking nuc that we made up a few weeks back.
The nuc frames had a nice solid brood pattern.
A worker bee hatching from her cell!
I made sure to find the queen to ensure that this time the hive would be queen-right. She was nice, big and active, hopefully a good queen for years to come!
Her majesty with a retinue of attendant workers.
More major issue: Issue #2:
From there it was time to move over to my 2 stronger hives which originated from nucs installed in the spring. Both of these hives have been going nice and strong with lots of bees. About 4 weeks ago now I went ahead and added a med. depth super to each hive full of frames with undrawn foundation. Under one I put a queen excluder, leaving the other without as an experiment. However frequent checks revealed that the bees were not moving up into either super, even after I removed the queen excluder from the other hive and despite both of their deep bottom boxes being full. Hmmm…
I thus concluded that the bees were effectively honey bound. Even though they had space they were ignoring the undrawn frames and filling every space they could in the bottom boxes with honey, slowly eliminating space for the queen to lay eggs. I’m wating both excess honey and ever strong hives though, so I went in to try to chance this!
Opening up one of the strong hives, full of honey and bees!
One of many nearly full frames of capped honey! Yum yum!
Honey and nectar just starting to get capped.
Honey comb and bees are beautiful. One of many reasons that I enjoy being a beekeeper!
In Hive #1, Turtle Hive, from which the above photos come, the bees had filled the entire food chamber (top deep box) with honey, much of which was already capped! (A side note on my hive naming: Each hive has a stenciled image on the front of it, which will become it’s name so that for note-keeping or when referred to in the blog it can be tracked). In the brood chamber below it the frames were nearly solid brood, fantastic solid pattern and lots of eggs indicating a very much alive queen. With the goal of getting the bees to move into the supers and continue drawing out comb I had two options: reverse the two boxes (bees often like to put honey above brood) or put some frames of brood or honey up into the supers, thus hopefully drawing the bees up. Since I didn’t want to move the bottom box I went with the latter. To do this required adding a second super since I have med. depth supers and deep brood/food chambers so that the deep frames would have enough space in the supers, with some ‘open’ space below them.
In Turtle Hive I tried just moving honey up into the supers, moving 3 frames of honey, partially capped, up into the supers and putting 3 undrawn frames down in their place. All moved frames were in the middle of the boxes.
In Hive #2, Gecko Hive, both the food and brood chambers contained brood and honey, however I could see where the bees had begun to fill hatched brood comb with nectar. There were no eggs in the upper box but in the bottom I found two frames full of solid egg pattern and larvae, so she too seems to still be going strong! This time I moved 1 frame of honey and 2 frames of honey + brood up into the supers. Each hive is now composed of 2 deep boxes with 2 med. depth supers on top.
Going deep into Hive #1 (Turtle Hive) to check for the queen / eggs. She is definitely there, lots of eggs!
Solid capped brood (center of frame) immediately surrounded by solidly capped honey (outside of frame). Hatched cells are being filled with honey, leaving the queen little room here to lay new eggs.
Brood and bees in Hive #2 (Gecko Hive). Can you find the queen? (she is there : )
With all that rearranging done I re-assembled everything and stepped back from the hive with a great feeling. The bees from the nuc could be seem flying about, presumably on orientation flights, while the others gathered about their entrances and resumed their work. Throughout all of the working of the hives the bees were super calm, happily buzzing and going about their work. I was wearing a full bee suit but two others present only had on veils (with t-shirts and shorts) and another with no veil, and no one got stung. We all got to taste some suuuper fresh honey and since my hives are in the middle of a raspberry patch eat some raspberries as well. In addition it was a beautiful day, if your like me I find the hives both beautiful and fascinating and I love the smell of a little fresh sumac smoke combined with the sweet smell of the hive and the breeze. Ah yes this is why I love beeing a beekeeper!
This morning I went back out to check on the hives and all looked well from the outside with lots of bees coming and going. I take a peak inside in the next few days to see if wax building has been stimulated, with the hopes of finding lots of new comb filled with honey!
My bee yard: The two strongest hives on the far right, from right to left Turtle Hive and Gecko Hive, then Cobra Hive (a swarm I caught this year, also looking good) and then the new nuc / re-queened hive, Iguana Hive. Go Bees!
Here’s to the continuation of a good beekeeping season! As always let me know if you have any questions/ comments/ etc. and check back again!
–Max : )