With that purpose in mind, a quick look at Elsa revealed that she certainly had enough bees, so I popped a few bars over to a nuc built by my friend John. Happily, although the interior size of his hive is larger than mine, his bars are the same length, so it was a really easy split to make. Unhappily, Elsa's black queen is super hard to see, so hopefully I didn't move her over as well.
So here's what I'm hoping to see by the following dates:
- May 7 -- The new queen should have emerged
- May 17 (+/- 5 days) -- The new queen should be mated and laying
I'd like to split this one to make another nuc for someone else, but the dimensions of his nuc are much smaller than mine. Because most of my bars are wedged, I can't simply trim them and move them over to his nuc. Instead, I've ended up retrofitting some bars that I'm phasing out of my hives. But I have to wait for bees to build the right kind of comb on them (i.e., worker comb in the right shape and size) before I can move them over. If that doesn't happen, I'll probably end up doing a chop and crop and attaching the combs with ribbon to his bars. Ugh. This is turning out to be a pain in the rear, and I will never agree to start a nuc in a smaller hive again.
Anyway, of the various retrofitted bars that I was hoping to transfer, she made one full of drones, one with workers, and one wasn't started. But she had plenty of stores, so I removed some of them to encourage her to make more workers. Of course, I had to give her a few more of those retrofitted bars, too.
Austeja, Buttercup, Persephone
These are the colonies that just seemed to be lagging a little, so I'd given them 1-2 bars of brood each in the past couple of weeks just to jump start them.
Buttercup and Persephone got a bar of brood only a week ago, so it's a bit early to see much of a difference. However, Austeja got 2 bars of brood 2 or 3 weeks ago, and it's made an enormous difference to her. I'm seeing lots of new eggs & larvae, capped brood, and the beginnings of some honey stores.
|Austeja has quite a nice pattern, so I'm glad that she's pulled out of her funk.|
|Some queen spotting practice|
|Austeja finally has enough workers to start storing excess honey. |
Not much yet, but it's a start.
|Watching bees emerge never gets old|
Last week, this one got about 5 empty bars in and around the brood nest. Within 6 days, they'd filled them all, so I gave them a few more bars for brood and added empty bars between all the honey combs. Right now, they brood nest occupies about 1/2 to 2/3 of the hive. The checkered bars of honey and empties extends pretty much all the way to the end of the hive. I even removed the divider board just to get a smidge more room.
Of course, the one hive that I had no plans to sell splits from (because of her temperament) is the one that's booming. Urgh. Bees!
|Hippolyte with divider removed|
So the bees are looking to be on track for this time of year. The dandelions, magnolias and crabapples are all blooming. I saw some white clover in Hartford a few days ago, which means that ours won't be too far behind.
One thing, though, that has been quite different from years past is the testiness of my bees this spring. During early spring, when the weather is still cold and there aren't too many things blooming, I expect some ill-tempered behavior. But we're starting to get some lovely, sunny days. Wednesday - Friday last week were in the mid-70s F to 80 F.
When I'm out and about in the yard, not even terribly close to the hives, these women warriors buzz around my head, which isn't terribly fun for me, but they actually force my kids inside, which doesn't work at all. Most of the hives are fairly laid-back since I can inspect them without gloves. Instead, I suspect Hippolyte's furies are behind these attacks, and I'm hoping that being split will produce some calmer daughters. If not, they'll have to be requeened. As much as I try to make allowances for her, the kids have to go outside so they can't make a mess inside. Yep, that's practical beekeeping at its finest.