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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cracking Open the Hives

Today was the day I'd been waiting for.  I cracked open both hives.  I lit my smoker, dawned my suit, and grabbed my tools and went to work.  Here is what I found...

First, both hives had considerable less activity on the outside than two days ago.  I think this was due to the weather clouding up a bit and being a little gray outside.  I did notice that both hives did have bees coming and going, just not as many as before.  

The 10 frame hive had a good bit of syrup missing.  I'd estimate that about half of the original two gallons was gone.  The bees were quite pleasant.  I got really nervous when I confirmed that I had installed the queen cage incorrectly.  Despite that, i was pleased that she had been released.  I immediately noticed that the bees had been busy building up on the fifth, sixth, and seventh frame.  There were lots of bees in the hive, and I could not find the queen.  I think this was due to the weather and many bees just stayed inside today.  I did see that the bees had been bringing in pollen due to the dark brown, red, and yellow filled comb.  Also, I noticed clear, built up comb with what looked like clear syrup inside.  I think this is where the eggs will be/are deposited, but I cannot confirm that I saw eggs.  In the middle of inspecting this hive, my smoker went out.  Note to self:  pack the smoker full of fuel next time!  I moved the hive off of the lousy milk carton stand and put four cinder blocks underneath it instead.  I also switched the entrance reducer to the smallest opening and confirmed that the bees could enter and exit.  I added a gallon of sugar syrup to the feeder.  I'll recheck this hive in a few days.

Hive number two, the nine frame hive looked pretty much the same.  Again, about half of the two gallons of syrup was gone.  These bees seemed a little more active with me around.  I noticed the queen had been released and I found her almost immediately.  I'm glad I had them marked.  I also saw the same pollen and build up on framed five, six, and seven.  I this hive, I can confirm eggs(?).  I think I saw them anyway.  I have to get better at spotting them.  The bees had built up some burr comb around the queen cage which I removed.  One of the bees didn't care to much for that and I watched her attempt to sting me through my leather gloves.  It was fascinating as she pointed he body almost straight up, then pushed down and shook violently.  I watched the stinger come out and take her venom sack and part of her guts out with her.

One thing that I've noticed about this hive is a few bee poops (for lack of a better term) at the front entrance of the hive.  I noticed one on top of the one of the brood frames as well.  They are long, yellow, and look like long, narrow spatters.  I know that this can be a sign of Nosema, so I'll watch this.  I am treating for this already, but will continue to monitor for other signs.  I fixed the entrance reducer and added another gallon of syrup.

All in all, it was a great day.  I did learn a few lessons and realize that with time, I'll get better and more confident.

I did install my queen cage incorrectly. Why then do they make them that way?

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