Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oops, we have honey

Before today, the top super had basically been in the same state for the previous 3 inspections (about a month) - no real activity, few bees, no new comb, etc. This is not surprising, given the season is winding down, it's been rainy, etc. I didn't expect them to really do much in there till next year.

That top super is all foundationless except one or two frames. I don't think they've drawn out any of the foundationless ones (well, maybe one). There's one untouched top bar in there too. The middle super on the other hand has been getting more and more full of honey, and much heavier.

Today i went in with the intent of taking an inch or so off the sides of the top-bar i have in my lower super that the bees built out for me earlier this year - at last inspection it was almost all capped honey. I was thinking they wouldn't be building much new wax this year and it'd prevent them from sticking it to the sides. Plus we'd get some honey for all our trouble. More-or-less guarenteed to be local, since the top bar wax is new since it's been at our place, and while bees do move honey around sometimes, it's likely all the honey in there is local too.

I geared up, popped the lid, and pried the corners the second super to loosen it. As i lifted the box, it was a little harder to get off/more stuck than usual. I did some more prying with the hive tool (sometimes they stick it together more), then just pulled it off.

Much to my surprise, after i set it down and looked back, there was a frame's worth of comb filled with honey sticking up into the air! Apparently the bees not only drew it out (built comb) in the last 3 weeks, but also started filling it with honey and cemented it to the frame below. Must have been some sort of flow on. Funny, since i had been thinking with all the rain they would probably have been holed up and eating through their stores.

I didn't think they'd connect the top-bar comb to the frame below; I was under the impression that bees liked to leave a walkway at the bottom of the frames. Needless to say, i'll be removing the top bars from my lang (already swapped the one that tore out).

The upside is now we have some honey and some really nice fresh wax (there were a number of empty cells).. 1 lb, 4 oz is what we measured it at. That's about a little squeezy-bear's worth i think. We haven't tasted all of it, but some of it had a bit of an "earthy" aftertaste, similar to the way privet or photinia flowers smell.

Another issue which is getting more prominent is mites. When i smoked the bees off the comb that stuck/tore, some didn't fly away. When i looked more closely they had the deformed wing thing going on (maybe 3 or 4 bees). That's caused by a virus spread by mites. I'm pretty sure the crawling bees out front are caused by mites too.

Treatment plan: do another mite count and I'll probably dust them with powdered sugar next time I go in.

Can you taste it? (click for an even bigger version)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Inspection report 10/10/10

Browsed through the hive a bit today.. not a much to report.. There's not a ton of nectar coming in, so i think the hive is in a bit of a lull.

Top super is still mainly empty, no real new activity there

Middle super is filling up with honey! Most of the foundationless frames that I put in are at least half built out and have some honey in them. Here's the frame-by-frame rundown:

1: Capped honey
2: Capped Honey
3: ~half built out, about 1/4 cells have honey, not capped
4: about 3/4 built out, half of the cells have honey, just a few capped
5: about 3/4 honey, some capped
6: brood with some honey mixed in
7: brood which looks like it just hatched out (didn't see eggs in there)
8: top bar was super heavy! mostly capped honey
9: brood and capped honey
10: capped honey

The new frame i put in the hive body is still pretty much untouched since the last time i checked. About a fist-sized bit of nice comb, but it looks totally virgin. I may pull it and put a comb guide in, the comb may be partially offset and that might be bugging them.

So the plan is to leave at least the outer two frames (1,2,9,10) with honey in them, and not to take any until that happens. I may slice the outer edges of the top bar off though and take that honey.. Get some payback and keep it from getting stuck to the sides so much.