September 26th: Dang It! Varroa Mites.

I had been leaving the hard panel of my screened bottom board in, all the time, for a couple of weeks because the nights were getting colder (mid 40s).  I pulled out the removable panel, this morning, and looked at it.  Dead Varroa Mites.

VM 01 VM 02 VM 03

Advertisements

September 23rd: Set the Honey Bucket Out for the Bees to Clean Up

Even though I used a spatula to clean the honey out of the bucket, there was a little left over.  I set the bucket out for the bees to clean up.  They found it almost immediately and had in cleaned up within 24 hours.  There was some fighting with small hornets of some variety, however, as well as with a few bees obviously from another hive.

Setting stuff out in the open like this, for the bees to clean up, is clearly not as good as putting it inside the top of the hive above an inner cover.  Still probably better than not giving it to them at all.

Bee YardLeftovers 2

September 22nd: Harvested Some Honey

I harvested the capped honey out of the deep frames that were in the deep box I removed from the hive.

I did all this in the bathtub.

There were three frames with patches of capped honey, totaling, I would guess, about the equivalent of one full frame covered with capped honey on both sides.

I used the double bucket method, with two 5-gallon paint strainers in the top bucket, and just scraped off the frames, wax and all, everywhere there was capped honey.

I had put the three frames that had capped honey on them in a 5-gallon bucket and set it on top of the dryer in the bathroom at 8:00pm. Then, I turned on a heater and kept the door closed. The room heated to 97 degrees overnight.

I harvested the honey at 7am the next morning and left everything to finish straining and dripping until noon. I kept the room at 97 degrees.

At noon, I used a potato masher to squeeze the remaining honey out of the wax (all inside the paint strainers in the top bucket), and then let the bucket with the honey sit in the bathtub with several inches of hot water.

After a bit, I sat the bucket on the kitchen counter and opened the honey gate on the bucket to let the honey run into the pint jars. The honey was very warm and flowed easily.

The honey was a beautiful, light golden color and I got four full pint jars.

honey

September 20th: Bees Did Not Want to Abandon Capped Brood

The bees did not want to abandon the capped brood on the deep frames.  I had pulled three deep frames partially covered in honey, to harvest for ourselves, and put the remaining seven deep frames into two deep boxes – with some separation between the frames – and set the boxes on the ground.  This was so that the bees that stayed on those frames could return to the hive at dusk.  (I did not brush them off into the hive.)  However, this morning, even though it was 42 degrees outside, there were four or five clusters of bees on those deep frames trying to keep portions of the capped brood, and themselves, warm.
I moved the boxes to a spot where they would catch the first morning sunlight and warm up the bees.  Later in the day, I saw bees fanning the capped cells to keep the brood cool in the direct sunlight.
At about 6pm, I opened the top of the hive and brushed the remaining bees off of the deep frames and into the hive.  There was a cluster on the inside of one deep box (not on a frame), however, that I could not brush into the hive.

DSC04507 DSC04508 DSC04510 DSC04511 DSC04512

September 19th: Moved All Medium-Depth Frames into 8-Frame, Medium-Depth Boxes

Hoping that all of the brood that was left in the deep box had hatched by now (knowing that the queen had been out of the deep box for at least 18 days – we had found her in a medium box on 9/2, and we didn’t know how long she’d been in there – and we’d kept her from returning to the deep box with a queen excluder), I removed all of the boxes and moved all of the medium-depth frames into new 8-frame, medium-depth boxes.
I wanted to go ahead and do this now so that:
1) The bees would have time to propolize this new hive and get settled in for the winter.
2) The bees would have time to rob-out any nectar in the deep frames and move it back into the hive.  (I’ve left those out and accessible to them.)
3) I could set-up my heating system before it gets cold.
Unfortunately, there was still a small amount of capped brood in the deep box, but I had to sacrifice that in order to accomplish the above.
I was convinced, however, that the queen was NOT in the deep box for three reasons:
1) There was a small amount of capped brood in the medium-depth box she had been in.
2) We had excluded her from the deep box on 9/2.
3) When I put the hive back together, the returning forage bees went to the hive, not to the frames in the open deep box sitting on the ground.
NOTE 1: With the hive completely disassembled, the returning forage bees created quite a cloud of bees confused by the fact that their hive was missing.
NOTE 2: The bees did not want to abandon the small amount of remaining capped brood on the deep frames.  I pulled three deep frames partially covered in honey, to harvest for ourselves, and put the remaining seven deep frames into two deep boxes – with some separation between the frames – and set the boxes on the ground.  This was so that the bees that stayed on those frames could return to the hive at dusk.  (I did not brush them off into the hive.)  However, the next morning, even though it was 42 degrees outside, there were four or five clusters of bees on those deep frames trying to keep those small remaining portions of capped brood – and themselves – warm.
NOTE 3: Per John Babb’s suggestion, I did not smoke the bees.  He thought that it would be better to not cause the queen to hide.  That way, she would be in a more mobile mode and more likely to move to a safe position if she began to get squeezed as I moved the frames into new boxes.  I was fully suited up.  Throughout this process, even though the bees were temporarily discombobulated by their missing hive, they were never aggressive toward me.
I put a fourth box on top, with 8 new frames of undrawn, wired, beeswax foundation.  This is to give the bees room to draw more cells and move the nectar in out of the seven deep frames siting in two deep boxes on the ground.
Once the bees are no longer interested in the nectar in those deep frames sitting on the ground – or it has all been removed – I will start feeding the bees.  Depending on the weather, I plan to feed them throughout the month of October.  Then, I’ll check that top box on November 1st and see if there is any stored honey in it.  If not, I’ll remove it so that the bees don’t have to heat it for no reason through the winter.
The hive is now configured like the attached diagram.
Screen shot 2015-09-21 at 10.23.08 AM

September 2nd: Found the Queen in a Medium Depth Box

I had John Babb come over to help me find the queen and get her moved into a medium depth box.  The hive was still in the August 15th configuration.  John found her on the second frame he pulled from the medium box that was directly above the deep brood box.  So, the queen had moved up.

We immediately replaced the frame and reconfigured the hive like the inset photo on this post.

I plan to leave the deep brood box on the hive until October 1st to let all of the capped brood hatch and move down with the queen.  Then, I’ll pull the deep brood box completely out and harvest the honey that is in it.

At that time I will also move all of the frames in the three 10-frame mediums into four 8-frame mediums on a new 8-frame hive set up.  I should have John help me with this so that we’re sure the queen gets moved to the new hive boxes.

conf