Friday, May 31

Quickie Inspect

So much for making a plan for my inspection today. I didn't find exactly what I expected. All the combs were practically empty. No honey. No eggs. Just open and empty.
I wondered if the drone were being evicted because there was no more honey stores. Did the bees consume all the honey during the past two weeks of rain?!
Having not fed them syrup in a while made me feel worse. There were a few combs with a handful of capped brood and scattered larva, in no specific pattern.
I was pleased that my smoker, I lit myself, stayed lit through the whole inspection which didn't last all that long; but the smoker kept on going.

Drone Eviction

It's obvious the drones are being evicted. Here a worker bites the wings of a drone and drags him out. Only to drop with him to the ground, risking her life to dispose of the not-so-needed drone. 
Another gets mauled by several workers. He must have been resistant; called in the backups.
I don't mind there being less drone in the hive.
video
Now they lay dead in the grass or on the sprinkler box, which sits directly under the entrance.

New Larva

The boys enjoyed examining this specimen with the microscope.
I can't tell if there is anything the matter. It's too small. Everything on the outside seems to be normal.
video

Thursday, May 30

Overflow

This evening we noticed the bees spilling out of the entrance as if there was not enough room in the hive. I know there are at least six empty bars of room at the back of the hive.
In an attempt to fix the problem, I slid all the bars back and inserted an empty bar in front, we call it bar #0. It didn't take long for the bees to move inside. I finally removed the old pollen patty substitute and the empty syrup jar that is over a month old with mildew.

Wednesday, May 29

In Need of Space

It only shows that the bees are getting really tight.
I've been reading Les Crowder's book Top-Bar Beekeeping and I plan to implement his Spring Hive Maintenance 2 illustration in my hive (this Friday) to give the bees more space before they swarm.

Tuesday, May 28

Rain Reduction

The rains have let up a little.
Or at least they were better than we experienced at Cape Lookout over the weekend. I removed the entrance reducer now that the lows are back in the high 40s. Still seeing what seems to be too many yellow and orange bees. It's been almost two months since installation and bees only live for 4-5 weeks! Do I have bees moving in from other hives??

Wednesday, May 22

Coldest Day

Today was the coldest and wettest day. I've been going out every other day or so just to see the activity level at the entrance = not much. I plan to spread out the comb once the bees have 12-14 combs built, to reduce the swarm tendency.
video
We've had the heater on the last couple of days. Figured it's only fair to the bees to reduce their entrance again and help them conserve heat.

Sunday, May 19

Flying Drones

Lots and lots of giant drone flying to and from the hive. It caught me off-guard as I thought drones only leave the hive to mate and do not return. But a quick reading from my book reassured me that this was normal and that drone can make up 15% of the bees in a hive.

Friday, May 17

Mini Inspection

I saw one dead larva at the entrance of the hive in the morning. I wasn't planning to get in the hive this weekend, but decided it best to make a quick look before heading out of town.
It was good to get in too, because we were able to get the camera dried out and back in focus. The weather the past week has been all rain and more is in the forecast. We raised the back of the hive so that moisture wouldn't be to blame for more dead larva. Speaking of the legs of the hive, I haven't noticed ants in the hive since I greased up the legs.
The quarter-patty inside was about one-quarter consumed, but no bees were currently eating it.
I didn't dress in a full suit, just a light colored top, taped pant cuffs, gloves and a veil, though I found it easier to fix the camera without gloves.
We videoed the short inspection. I pulled bar #8 up and we found capped brood and capped honey:
(close-up) 
bar #9 was found with open honey:
bar #10 was 1/4 new comb:
and bar #11 was empty. I did see another larva out of the cell but still on the comb edge, but later realized that the wax had torn from the side wall. There were a lot of drone roaming the comb - they're huge! There are still a lot of yellow-orange bees in the hive.

Wednesday, May 15

Hive Huddle

The bees appear to huddle at the entrance.
Either the comb hangs that low or they are making a sort of wall to keep out the cold from the night.

Brood Explosion

Loads of bees flying in front of the hive this afternoon. Must be a spring brood explosion when all the new baby bees hatch. Still seeing a lot of yellow bees foraging. These bees are outliving their life expectancy of four to five weeks. The super heroes of foraging.

Tuesday, May 14

Poor Visibility

Either we've messed up the webcam or the bees are making adjustments of their own. But we are no longer getting clear pictures from inside the hive. Pooh!

Sweet Clover

The clover fields are beautiful here. This is one of the last few fields that still has the deep magenta color. Many of the other fields around are finished blooming.
Here are the farmer's hives which may also pollinate the three neighboring clover fields. 

Video Camera

Loads of bees flying in front of the hive. Brood explosion? Still seeing a lot of yellow bees foraging. Took video and pictures with video camera.
video
Here some bees are dancing on the front of the hive.

Saturday, May 11

Hive-cam Adjustments

I fooled with the camera, trying to get it in better focus.
I finally gave up and ended more worse for wear.

6:30 pm, clear skies with a storm on the horizon, still warm outside from the heat of the day.
Plan to check syrup and move hive-cam and false wall back to make more room for the bees building comb. I taped the cuffs of my shorts closed for good measure, put on a light-colored long-sleeved shirt and my veil. Not getting fully suited up is one step closer to getting comfortable with the bees - the baby steps.
After opening the cover, I labeled all the bars; starting with #1 at the entrance and trying to alternate brown and white bars towards the end.
Once opening the bars, I found comb as far as bar #10 or #11. The sugar syrup was three-quarters full and there were lots of bees on that old pollen patty. I got a few nice pictures then closed it up.
Now the bees have another six or seven bars to build from before the false wall. No time for a full-blown inspection for at least three weeks. If we get in in the meantime it will be for minor adjustments.

Activity

video

Friday, May 10

Egg Laying

If queens can lay 1000 eggs per day, and the first two batches of brood cells have hatched, that means we could be having a hive explosion. The hive-cam yesterday showed a hive full of dark bees.

Dead Bees

1:00 pm and sunny.
While at the hive I noticed eight recently dead bees lying directly below the entrance. A few were struggling to survive. There were workers and drone.

Thursday, May 9

50/50

video
The population of the hive is getting darker.
More light-striped dark bees than yellowish brown bees can be seen.

Tuesday, May 7

Drone?

I took a look in the hive cam around 7:30 pm.
I thought I might had seen the queen until a second inspection revealed two big dark bees with no worker bees surrounding them. I'm guessing they are drone.
The drones must be hatching, else we have two lazy queens that seem to be getting along just great.

Saturday, May 4

Ouch!

One heck-of-a-sting!

First Full Inspection

3rd Inspection (almost four weeks from installation): 8:30 pm, sun setting,
Clear skies, weather still warm from hot temperature day.
We went out to examine the comb we missed last week and to see how many bars had comb. The sugar syrup was almost empty and we replaced it with a new jar of 1:1 and three tiny holes in the lid. The bees took 10 days to go through the last jar - which may have been too long for the same syrup to sit in the hive. The substitute pollen patty was still untouched. I don't know whether it is better to take it out or leave it in - I left it in. The smoker only went out once this time around, despite working with the bees for 30 minutes.
This time around we used a crowbar to shift all the bars back about half an inch, so that I would have some room to set the bars back in without loosing lives. Although I started with bar #5 and moved back to bar #9 and then decided to see the bars from last week too, I went ahead and put the photos here in the order they are in the hive.
Bar #1 (front/back): 
Bars #2-#3 (last week/this week) 
Bar #4 (front/back) 
Bar #5 (last week/this week) 
Bar #6 (front/back) 
Bar #7 (front/back) 
Bar #8 (front/back) 
Bar #9 (just beginning) 
We could see that many of the capped brood comb had been open, but the drone comb was still capped. We could also see more darker bees than before. As I closed up the hive I needed my handyman husband to help shove the comb tightly together. He stepped in to help, again, unprotected, and received his second and third stings. This time he accidentally squeezed the venom into his skin while trying to remove the stinger and ended up causing himself quite a bit of pain, enough that he doesn't want it to happen again.
We still have yet to find that elusive queen. We'll spend some time examining our photos, but it's not to critical as it appears she is doing a good job.

Wednesday, May 1

Hivecam

We have what first appeared to be a pest in the hive,
but is actually little bee bottoms sticking out of the cells.