Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What happens when you don't put in all the frames?

Last week we added a second hive body to our bees. At the time we only have 5 frames assembled so we just put them in the middle and figured we'd add more in a few days. Bees always start in the middle, right, and work their way outside. It should be fine.

Well, I guess we were wrong. First off, we waited too long. We planned to get back in a few days but it ended up being a week. When we opened up the hive and lifted the top board we had a surprise as you see in the picture. The bees had built their own comb hanging down form the top board.

The bees had also done a bit of work on the frames as well, but seeing this is a bit disappointing. It was beautiful, but we would rather have had the bees spending their energy and resources on the frame.

So, we added more frames in as was our plan. From a class the beekeeper mama had taken last week she learned that many beekeepers only put 9 frames in a hive to make it easier to move things around so that was our plan. We were able to do this and leave the opening right where this comb hangs down. So for now, there is no loss. However when we get ready to put on supers I'm sure we will have to break this comb off to get the top board on top. Maybe we can break it off and just set it in the empty frame slot.

One other thing we did at this inspection was to pull out the white bottom board to see if there were any mites. We didn't see any but did notice a bunch of ants come out as soon as we pulled out the board. The started crawling all over obviously disturded. Plus, there was a smell. It was almost like something dead. Both the smell and ants showed up only when well pulled the board so we're sure it's related but don't know what. A dead mouse perhaps? Does anyone have any thoughts on the ants? Do we need to worry about them being under the hive body? We've also seen a few roaches in and around the hive. Are these something to worry about?

Ants below the hive that came out after disturbed.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bees at 7 weeks, time for a home expansion

It's now been seven weeks since we installed our bees and nearly three weeks since our last visit. We brought a second hive body along thinking they might be ready to expand. Sure enough it looked like they were ready. We didn't pull the frames at all but you could see bees between each one with some comb built out. We added a second body and five frames to it. In a few days we'll head back to fill in the other five frames once we've got them put together. Images below are before and after adding the second hive body.

It would have been nice to pull frames and look for the queen, but we really don't want to disturb their comb any more when we don't need too. The number of bees has certainly gone way up and it will be interesting to see how soon they fill up this second body. We have two suppers ready to be assembled and a queen excluder too. Hopefully we'll get some good comb production and be able to add them in another few weeks so that we'll have some honey to harvest in the fall.