Sunday, June 14, 2015

Out of Space, Piping Queen & Roaches

On my way home from church this morning, I noticed that the catalpa have started blooming. Hooray! June is also the month for roses and clover, too. The wild grape vines in my yard have begun to bloom as well. I don't know if they attract honeybees, but this morning I noticed lots of bumbles and other native bees on them. My evening primroses and wild geraniums have begun flowering, too, but I don't have enough of them (yet) to attract the girls.

Wild grape flowers

Evening primrose
This afternoon was a glorious 82 degrees and sunny -- perfect for inspections.

This nuc was bursting at the seams. Nearly all the bars (I think 12 or 13 in that nuc) were built out, I've got to build a new hive pronto because she looks like she's going to get swarmy soon.

If my calculations are correct, a queen should have emerged on Friday of last week. Indeed, the queen cells were all open, but I didn't see the queen. I also didn't hear any piping, so fingers crossed, she was out on a mating flight today. The next two days are supposed to be rainy, so it would be nice to think she was taking advantage of this gorgeous weather.

I gave Bubblegum two bars of brood from Peach just to give her a population boost until the new queen starts laying.

Several of queen cells are still capped, but I know the queen is out. Although I didn't see her, I could hear her piping. Lots and lots of honey in this hive, too.

Last week, I was sort of disappointed with the amount of building Hippolyte and Persephone have been doing, so I fed them each about a quart of syrup. Over the course of the week, possibly as a result of feeding, they've built out quite a bit. I could tell that all of the syrup was being used to build comb because none of it was in the storage area.

I gave them another quart today, but the syrup was a bit hot still. (I usually heat up the water in a tea kettle before adding it to the syrup because it melts the sugar faster.) It must have irked them because I got popped in the arm.

As soon as I opened Persephone, there was a caterpillar-like wormy larva creeping on the bottom of the hive. It didn't last long, though. As it creeped away from the light and back toward the comb, it was immediately attacked by a bee and carried out of the hive. It might have been a wax moth larvae, but I went through every bar and didn't see any others. There weren't any webs or anything either which is what I'd expect with an infestation. In any case, it confirmed my belief that a strong hive can take care of itself. It also confirmed why importing package is probably not a great idea -- they bring pests with them.

What do you think?
Wax moth larva amid those wax cappings and ground cinnamon?

Speaking of pests, here's one I haven't seen since I moved away from the south -- cockroaches. This is the weird bug I saw in Persephone last time, and today, there was one hanging about outside the hive. YUCK! They just give me the heebie-jeebies. Did you ever see that silly X-Files episode, "War of the Corprophages" featuring an attack of killer roaches? There's a scene in which the town goes nuts and people gets into knockdown fights over cans of Raid. Yep, that would be me.

There was also a weird black spot in one of the combs. Not sure what it is. In hindsight, now that I'm reflecting on the pests in my hive, I wish I'd cut it out. Maybe I still will.

The black spot is near the drone's head.
Here's a close-up.

Some of the syrup was being stored in honey bands above the brood, but none of it was in the honey storage area. I gave them one more jar today, but they probably won't get too much more.

I dye my syrup so I can tell if the bees are storing it.

Inspections are done, and I'm going to do some more research on that black spot in Persephone.


  1. Hey Julie, Sovek from BS here. Good news on those queens, but don't fret about not finding the queen, Virgins are hard to spot and even then, can be really hard to spot. That black spot looks like pollen, sometimes the colors are just weird like that. Considering the cell above it also has the start of pollen, I'm 90% sure its pollen.

    As for the other issues... This is why I will be having bottom entrances from here on out. Any of my hives that has a bottom entrance and is flush with the bottom board (AKA a gap between the side and bottom board) doesnt have any issues with debris on the bottom. My TBH last year and debris all over the bottom and was a safe spot for all sorts of pests. Chances are that wax moth laid eggs in the wax debris, one more hatched and that one was good at hiding for a while. My 4ft long lang is going to have to be fixed because there is a ton of crap on the bottom and I know it has all sorts of critters in it.

    1. Hi, Sovek! Thanks for the encouragement. I'm not at all worried about not finding my new queens because I'm complete rubbish at spotting even the mated queens. (I usually just look for eggs.) I think the 20th or 21st will be 10 days from emergence, so I'll start looking for eggs at that time. If we get to July 1 without any eggs, then I'll start freaking out. :-)

      To be honest, ever since I switched from screened bottoms to solid ones, I haven't really have any debris issues either. Most of the stuff on the floor is ground cinnamon because I was having an ant problem in that hive. The ants are now gone, but the bees don't want to clean up the cinnamon. I used a putty knife to get rid of a lot of it today. They should be a lot tidier from here on out. :-)

      Glad to hear you think the black spot looks like pollen. I'm going to keep an eye on it because I haven't seen any black pollen coming into any of the hives, but you could be right. Thanks!

    2. Oh, BTW, on the whole feeding issue. I hope I have the same success with feeding as you are having because my hive that had the queen issues just isnt building up. I stuck a jar on top (1qt I think) of the May package, its already gone after about a day. Previously I couldnt get the bees to touch it. After seeing it half gone this morning I made a lid for the other hive and drilled 3 7/8" holes (nearly breaking my drill too) into the lid for a jar on the trouble hive. Its already half gone so I hope to see more brood and comb next inspection. I may do the same for the 2ft hive as I added in 3 empty frames saturday, may stick a jar or two and see how much they build out.

      BTW, more pictures, please. I love looking at TBHs, or other peoples hives for that matter.

    3. Sounds like your bees are definitely hungry if they're taking a jar in a day. Have you noticed anything blooming? Sometimes, if the weather is too dry, you'll still have a dearth even with flowers around because, without water, the plants aren't making nectar.

      Good luck getting them to build out! Will try to post more hive photos for your!


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