Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Bee Update: Second Hive Inspection

I told you recently about the problems in our bee hives

Last week I went out to do the weekly inspection.  That involves a bit of getting ready

That's oil for the bottom-board to trap the small hive beetles, powdered sugar to shake in, a container for the powdered sugar, scissors, water, and blood sugar meter.  Two things that must be done when preparing for a summer time hive inspection; hydrate (it's hot in jeans, long sleeved shirt and a veil in August!), and ~ if you are a diabetic ~ check your sugar!

I'm fortunate that Mr. Marvelous has made me two benches; the long one goes behind the hives to hold the boxes as they get pulled off

And the short one goes between the hives to hold the supplies: powdered sugar in container, oil, bee brush, hive tool (that little metal thingy), lighter, and smoker.  I have learned to keep the lighter handy; the smoker will probably go out at the worst possible point in the process.

Now the fun begins.  I'm fortunate to have pretty docile bees.  I'm told that most hives are being docile this year since it is not as hot as usual.  I'll take it!

After smoking the front entrance to encourage the bees to go deep inside and not come flying out in a fury, it is safe to take off the top and smoke there.

Then I begin removing each of the boxes.

The strong hive has four boxes.  In theory the bottom two are the living chambers, including the nursery, and the top two are for honey.  

The weaker hive only has two boxes. They have had a slow start.

I started with the strong hive, removing first that metal or "telescoping" top cover, then the cover that is underneath that.  I then remove each box, stacking them on the long bench.  As I remove each box, I check to see how the bees are doing.  The top box in the strong hive is not being used much.  It's maybe 10-20% filled with honey.  The box under that one is FULL of honey.  Yay!!!  I can not take that honey this year, though.  I have to leave that for the girls to get through the winter.  If I can wait three years for asparagus, I can wait another year for my own honey.

Now the powdered sugar. 

Starting with the bottom box, each one gets two fistfuls (about a half-cup) sprinkled over the top.

They don't seem to mind too much!

A little confused perhaps, but not angry (Don't make me angry.  You won't like me when I'm angry)

As I put each box back on, it gets sprinkled with the sugar.  Once everyone is back where they belong, the top goes back on and I do the next hive.  The bottom box of the weak hive is pretty full and active.  The top box is not.  They have made wax on top of only a small piece of one of those frames.  I'm worried about this hive.

After treating with sugar and putting everything back together, it was time to inspect the little tray underneath.  I need to change the oil down there and see what kind of nasty little beasts there are.

My strong hive looked like this.  All those little black things are small hive beetles.  The white clumps are just bits of wax and trash from the bees regular house-keeping.  I prefer to find the hive beetles down here; that means they are not in the hive!

My chickens love this part of the process.  This gets dumped in their pen and they get a gourmet buffet!

My weak hive had the beetles and the trash, but it also had a couple of these

 That nasty little thing in the bottom of the picture is the larvae of a wax moth. They are called wax moths because they eat wax.  You can imagine that I do NOT want to see any more of those around!  They are gross.

The last step is feeding.  Since my weak hive is so weak, I have been advised to go ahead and start feeding them.  There is a small problem with this.  Feeders are usually put at the entrance to a hive or even inside the hive itself.  I have been warned that when you have one strong hive and one weak hive and you start feeding like this, the strong hive will fly over to the weak hive and rob them!  So instead of putting the feeders attached to the hives, I placed them on that nice little short bench several yards away from the hives.

The girls have found them!

Unintentionally, it has turned out that my two colonies are two different colors.  The girls in the strong hive are that pretty golden color, and the girls from the weak hive are dark.  That has been very helpful as I have watched them forage this year.

Bees are so much fun!  As they all work together doing the different jobs they have, they always make me think of this:

 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,  so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;  if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;  the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:4-8

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