White clover, which was so plentiful in my lawn a few weeks ago, has been petering out, too, so my backyard, which hasn't seen a blade in months, finally got cut. I used to mow crop circles around all the flowers, but a couple of years ago, I gave up and started giving my lawn mullet -- short in front & party in the back!
|Tidy lawn. A true sign that the spring flow is done.|
Haven't inspected in awhile, so I decided to get that done before our 90 degree temps started kicking in. One of the big things I wanted to do today was start prepping for the autumn flow. For me, that means a couple of things.
- Condensing the hive: In spring, the bees are building like mad & nectar is pouring in. So I like to have a lot of empties throughout the hive for them to build on. This time of year, I remove most of the empty bars. (I do like to keep one between the brood nest & honey storage area). I also like to move partially built-out honey combs toward the back.
- Moving dark brood comb: If I see any really dark brood comb that has been filled with nectar, I move it to the honey area where it can be finished off by the bees and pulled in the autumn.
This is the first one I opened, and she was nearly empty and full of queen cells (open & capped). A virgin queen was running around, too. After some Yosemite Sam style ranting, I gave her a bar of capped brood from Elsa and closed her up. Poop.
|Queen cell near bottom|
|Can you find the virgin queen?|
Because she's so full of honey, I wanted to do a full inspection for queen cells. But halfway through I came upon a bar that had fallen. It was still straight and stable, but it was connected to the floor and sides, and I just didn't want to deal with it at the moment. Besides, I'm hoping that if I give them another week, they'll cap the bar (and won't swarm, fingers crossed) and I can just pull it out for me.
Also incredibly empty. At first, I thought she'd absconded or swarmed, but then I found the queen & some eggs. I noticed that there was a lot of dark comb in there, too. As I recall, when I hived a package in Persephone last year, I gave her a lot of old comb to get started, but she didn't do well. Wonder if that old comb was a contributing factor. Feral colonies will abscond once the comb gets too black. I think I'd kept that dark comb (both in Persephone & Peach) because it was full of pollen. Next year, though, I probably won't bother trying to save bee bread. It seems the risks may outweigh the benefits, and bees seem to prefer fresh pollen anyway.
Anyway, pulled a couple of the worst combs that were mostly empty and replaced them with newer comb. Also donated capped brood from Austeja. Since the other hives have so much honey, I may pull a few more older combs from Peach next time and replace them with cleaner honey combs.
The queen appears to have emerged right on cue, but she was nowhere to be seen. Hopefully, she's on a date.
This hive that has loads of spring honey that crystallized. One of my fall prep tasks for her was moving the bars of crystallized honey to the front of the hive, just after the pollen bars. Hopefully, if the girls get hungry over the summer, they'll eat that first to make room for the brood nest. If not, they'll have it over winter.
Couple of weird honey things were happening in this hive, too.
- She used to have more crystallized honey. I don't know if it's melted in this heat/humidity, if the bees have eaten it, or if the bees have simply stored more liquid honey over it. Strange.
- They've started capping some honey even though the cells aren't full.
|Notice the white comb near the top? |
See how the honey has been capped even though the cells are not full?
This hive has mellowed out a lot. For the first time in over a year, I've been able to inspect her without gloves. She's got plenty of bees -- just lost the bad attitude. That's right, girls (three snaps up)! Don't mess with the regicidal beekeeper.
|Look, Ma! No hand protection!|
I still don't have any harvestable honey, but quite a few bars are about 50% capped now. Hopefully, the bees won't eat the rest before fall! Meanwhile, after all that work in the blazing sun, I've earned some Samanco time!
|My weekly guilty pleasure. After a hot afternoon in the sun, I like a frozen treat.|
This is a Korean ice cream with red bean paste. Weird, but delicious.
Way better than American ice cream bars.