My hive is still in the configuration of the July 14th post. I opened the hive at noon. Sunny and hot. After taking off the outer cover, and inner cover, I pulled one foundationless frame from the top box (above the queen excluder) and set it aside. It was 70% covered with comb and 80% of that was drone comb. It had just a little bit of nectar in some of the cells. As I began pulling frames and inspecting them in that top box, the bees became a little bit agitated. I got stung once, on my left upper arm, but I scraped it off quickly and it didn’t hurt much at all (I’ll see what the residual effect is). After that sting, I stopped and put on my veil and lit my smoker. Dried mulch (pine wood chips from a chipper) seemed to work well; the smoker stayed lit. Everybody (including me) calmed down after I started using the smoker.
The frames in the top box were well drawn out with decent honey stores in them. They were drawn out enough that I decided to leave out that one foundationless frame I had pulled and space the nine remaining frames with a little more space between them. (I’m also planning to order some 9-frame spacers from Kelley Beekeeping.)
The frames in the middle box, below the queen excluder, and above the original deep brood box, were being drawn out by the bees, but the queen had not moved up there yet. There was no brood in that box. I checked a couple of the foundationless frames in that box, and they too were covered mostly with drone comb.
This Saturday, I need to see what’s going on in that bottom brood box.
John Babb sent me an email inviting me to accompany him to a swarm call-out outside of BV. He actually handed the project off to me, but he did go with me. It was a vacation rental log house and I dealt with the absentee owner via phone. Her name was Charmaine Burtak. She had heard about the bees from her renters at the time. The bees were gone when we got there, but Charmaine was very appreciative of the time and trouble I went to to put her mind at ease. She said she was going to send me some money to compensate me. I don’t know how much. I gave her my name and address.
I had added a third box, between the bottom brood box and the top box, just two days ago. The purpose was to give the queen more room to lay. The bottom brood box was nearly full and the top box was well developed with drawn wax, nectar, and capped honey.
I had also added a queen excluder between the new, middle box and the top box. So, in order to give the bees the most resources of drawn wax in that new middle box, as well as create a way to get some honey in the comb from the top box, I redestributed some of the frames.
I took some drawn-out frames from the top box, that didn’t have any honey or nectar in them, and put them in the middle box – removing the least drawn-out of the new 100% beeswax foundation frames that were in the middle box.
Then, I put 3 more (for a total of four) foundationless frames in the top box. Again, replacing three new 100% beeswax foundation frames that were the least drawn-out.
Here’s the current status of my boxes and frames:
Because three of the four foundationless frames that I had had in the top box were full of drone brood (these are the three frames that I moved from the top box to the middle box, when I added the third box in the middle to give the queen more room to lay), I wanted to check the fourth foundationless frame, still in the top box, to be sure that it did not have any brood in it. It did not. So, now with the addition of the queen excluder, I’m hoping they will just fill these cells with honey.
I shared Michael Bush’s information about honey having a pH of 4.2 and sugar water a pH of 6.0 (which changes the micro ecology/biology of the hive). And, how he adds ascorbic acid to the sugar water to bring the pH down to 4.2. Everyone resonated with this thought and said it made a lot of sense, particularly John Babb and David Angelo.
John Babb came over and we looked in the hive. At this point I had a deep-body 10-frame brood box on the bottom, and a medium-depth, 10-frame Illinois Super on the top.
The bees were doing very well. There was brood in the top box. Three frames of it. It was mostly drone comb. And, the three frames of drone comb were on three of the four foundationless frames in that box. The top box also had quite a bit of nectar and capped honey in it, on plastic-cell foundation frames. It was good and heavy.
The bottom box had a lot of capped brood in it. We found the queen. Over-all, the hive was quite full and John was surprised the bees had not built any swarm cells. He suggested I put a third box on today, and put it between the two boxes so that the queen can move right up from the bottom box and have lots of room to lay eggs. We also talked about me putting the three foundationless frames with brood in them (mostly drones) in that middle box so that there’s already some brood there. I did that. The middle box is also a medium-depth box. I used new, 100% beeswax foundation frames in this new, middle box, and also used the same kind of frames to replace the three foundationless frames with brood on them that I took out of the top box and put in the middle box.
I also decided to put a queen excluder between the middle box and the top box. I wanted to do this because I want to get some foundationless frames full of honey. Of the four foundationless frames I already had in the top box, the queen had laid eggs in three of them (again, mostly drones).
I went out to John Babb’s house and he showed me how to install the wire on the frames, install the foundation in the frames, and embed the wire in the wax.