Hot Weather!

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Considering this is still June, it’s REALLY hot here!!  August weather, to say the least!  This morning, at 5:00 A.M., the temperature was still 87 degrees.  Yesterday, at the same time, the temperature was 77 degrees.  Way too hot to do much with the bees unless I’m out there at first full light, around 6:00 A.M.

That’s pretty much what I’m doing right now.  Yesterday morning, around 6:00 A.M., I installed a pollen trap on Colony A.  I started Colony A from a nuc just 6 weeks ago today and they are now at full strength, thanks to supplementary feeding and I believe, the use of essential oils in that feeding.  Two strong, full deep brood chambers.  Loads of pollen coming in every day, so I decided to start trapping some for my wife to try with her pollen allergies.  I’ll just trap one day out of every three days right now, so the bees can keep the majority of pollen for their needs.  Strong nectar flow still going, thanks to rather high humidity and scattered thundershowers, so I’m also taking a chance on trying to get some comb honey.  I put a queen excluder on top of the brood chambers and a shallow cut comb honey super box.  I’ll hope the thundershowers continue so the nectar flow continues as well and see if I can’t pull one shallow super of comb honey.  I’m not real sure about the success of this effort, but it’s worth a try!

Colony B and C, both started from 3 pound packages of bees are still hanging in there.  They aren’t foraging a lot, but have plenty of supplemental feeding of sugar syrup and essential oils, so they are drawing comb and look good.  I’m continuing that feeding effort and will do so as long as necessary to help them build up to overwinter.  Right now, they are about as weak as they will get, since no new bees have been emerging yet.  This Thursday will be 21 days since the bees were put into the hives and the queens were released.  So, if all has gone well, young new bees should start emerging and getting to work by Thursday.  The colony populations should begin growing with new bees to take over housekeeping chores, freeing up older bees to do more foraging.  I expect to see noticeable improvement in activity within the next 10 days.  I’ll just continue to feed and medicate as long as necessary, trying to help them overwinter successfully.  No pollen trapping nor honey collecting from them this season.  If all goes well, they should be ready to start producing next Spring!

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Moving Forward

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Yesterday morning, the heat wave broke for a couple of days.  Evening thunderstorms provided more moisture for pollen and nectar production, while morning temperatures were in the low to mid-70’s.  A good time for colony inspections.

A special screened bottom board for Varroa mite control and a screened inner cover, providing more ventilation arrived, so I decided to install both on Colony C, while checking their progress.  Six full frames of drawn comb and heavy egg laying by the queen from this package of bees.  So, after installing the new hive parts, I replaced four wood/wax frames with plastic frame/foundation, which the bees had not started to build upon.  They are accepting the plastic comb very well.  At the same time, I added a second deep brood chamber…hive body…with all ten frames being plastic frame/foundation.  I also installed a Small Hive Beetle trap.  I’ll continue to supplemental feed with 1:1 sugar syrup, too.  I still have about eight more days to wait before the first new young bees begin to emerge, but the hive is ready for a big population boom when that time arrives!

I also checked on Colony B.  They are the bees started with the five frame nuc and bees I rescued from the wall of an old house.  They are very strong, building well in the second brood chamber and getting heavy with brood, pollen and honey.  The colony is doing so well, if this weather continues with heat and almost daily thunderstorm activity, I might actually get a bit of honey for our use this year!  That would be an unexpected and pleasant surprise!  I also checked the “sticky board” I had put below the screened bottom board.   It’s part of my Varroa mite trapping system and allows me to do a mite count.  Anything less than 100 trapped Varroa mites on the sticky board, after 48 hours would be an acceptable level of infestation.  After 96 hours in place, I counted about 20 Varroa mites….much better than I anticipated.

Colony B Package Bees Growing

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We’ve had extremely hot and humid weather, so I decided to check on Colony B early, before the heat became excessive.  They were busy working at 8 A.M. and the temperature was already 82 degrees, so it sounded like a good time to me.  They have been consuming a lot of sugar syrup…between one and two quarts a day, so I thought comb building must be going well.  I didn’t want to disturb them, more than necessary, but could see nearly 5 full frames of comb drawn out.  Wonderful!  Even a bit of excessive burr comb…comb in the wrong places, so removed that.  I was surprised to see that they had fully drawn comb on some of the plastic frame/foundation I put in the hive for them, even before drawing comb on wood frames with beeswax foundation!  So, I removed 4 frames of wood/wax they had not touched yet and replaced them with plastic.  I also gave them a second hive body with 10 frames of plastic foundation and installed a beetle trap to catch any Small Hive Beetles.

At the same time, I put a “sticky board” in Colony A, so I can catch Varroa Mites and get something of a count on Varroa infestation, by checking the sticky board, since the mites fall and are trapped in the mineral oil.  While I was at it, I put a medicated “frosting” in the entrance, with Spearmint oil and vegetable grease.  The bees didn’t care much for that, but within a half an hour they were back to normal, walking through the frosting, which will help with Varroa and Trachael mite problems.

Colony B Second Hive Body

Sugar Rush!

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Last night, the low temperature was 78 degrees.  Humidity has been high, as well.  Lots of foraging going on, even though we need some rain.  Maybe tonight we will get a couple of thunderstorms.  Colony “C” has been gulping sugar syrup so quickly today!  So far today, or since 8:00 A.M., at any rate, they have consumed nearly a half a gallon of sugar syrup!  I’m going to refill the quart syrup feeder jar before nightfall but I’m just about sure the feeder will be empty by daylight tomorrow morning!  The young bees need a lot of sugar syrup, since they are building beeswax comb.  They consume the sugar and glands in their bodies produce beeswax, which is used to make beeswax comb.  The queen needs comb for laying eggs and the bees need storage space for nectar and pollen.

Perfect Weather Conditions

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We’ve had a very good nectar and pollen flow since the package bees were started in Colony B and Colony C.  Nice temperatures in the high 80 degree range, as well.  I’m feeding sugar syrup, both regular and medicated with natural essence oils.  Foragers have been busy returning with their pollen baskets full.  We’ve had dry weather for a couple of weeks now, but this morning we awoke to early morning thundershowers.  Not a lot of rain, but enough to freshen and water vegetation.  We will most likely get a bit more rain today and temperatures are anticipated to reach 91 degrees.  Nectar and pollen will be in abundance!  Some of the little foragers are already trying to fly between the occasional raindrops and it’s only 7:00 A.M.  The next few days should be everything a bee colony could ask for!

Queens Set Free

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Last night, I opened Colony B and C, with the new package bees and released the queens from their cages.  They are now able to begin their “queen work” of laying eggs and building the colony population.  Concerned with the number of ants around this area, I now have all three colonies on ant-proof stands, so feel much better about that!

Shaking Package Bees Into The Hive

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Here is how the package bees are “shook” into their new home.  They have been sprayed with sugar syrup, so are wet and not really able to fly.  They are also busy eating the sugar syrup.  Package bees are all very young, gentle bees and easy to work with.  You can see that I don’t even bother to make sure the gloves cover the bare skin on my arms, as the young bees have no desire to sting.  Wearing a protective veil merely keeps the bees from accidentally getting on my face, but there is little chance I would be stung.  I put the first package of bees into Colony B while Joan, my wife, watched.  She has never handled bees before, but I let her put the package bees and queen into Colony C all by herself.  I watched, in case she encountered problems, but she did just fine!  She was quite proud of her efforts, being her very first time.  As always happens with a newbie, she was awed by what she was seeing.  She now understands and has a new perspective on the amazing little world of the honey bee!!  They are no longer just those annoying, stinging “bugs.”  They are more of an almost “mystical” experience.  Joan spent time yesterday, rescuing a few bees which had been trapped in the swimming pool, while trying to get a drink of water.  She was scooping them out, watching as they dried their wings and could fly away.  She’s beginning to share their world.  Mission Accomplished!

Shaking Bees Into Hive

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