Sunday, April 19, 2015

Drone Comb & Wax

Austeja was not a particularly strong hive going into winter, and although it made it through, it's pretty small still. That's why I was surprised today to see it starting to make swarm preparations. I guess it feels good because it has a lot of capped stores left over from winter, and it had already drawn the empty bars I'd inserted last week. It also had a nearly full bar of pollen and a bar of drone comb. The other bars were full of capped worker brood. No queen cups yet, though.

I decided to add an empty bar to both ends of the brood nest. I also opened the brood nest with a couple of empty bars. Hopefully, that will suppress their urge to swarm, but I'll definitely check them again soon.

Plenty of things are starting to bloom now, though. Crocuses are still available, though I think the swamp cabbage bloom is about over since I can see their green leaves from the road. However, bulbs like squill and daffodils are in full bloom now (not that the bees like the daffodils much). Magnolia and forsythia are starting to bloom, too, so I'll need to be diligent about making sure the brood nest stays open.

There were way too many combs left from my dead-outs to store in the freezer, so I moved them all to the nucs. My thinking was to install the packages that are coming in the full-size hives, and I'd rather let Austeja rob the nucs than train her to rob the other hives. Today, I noticed that there weren't any more robbers coming and going, which was a good indication that the honey was gone.

I won't go into all the details of why, but I now have two sizes of bars -- 18 1/2" and 20". Unfortunately, the sides of the observation hive have bowed outward, which means that the smaller bars are really hard to fit into that hive. They keep wanting to fall inside. As a result, I've made the decision to phase the short bars out. As Austeja empties out the old honey or fills them with brood, I'm moving the shorter bars to the back of the hive so they can be filled with honey and harvested.

I'm tired of messing with these short bars, though, so my younger son and I harvested the wax from the short bars in the nucs today. We kept the wax on the longer bars for the packages, though.

My packages were originally scheduled to ship April 15, but due to some unexpected complications, I postponed shipment until the 30th. Things are getting very exciting around here very quickly. 


  1. Glad to see that you have flowers coming up and that Austeja is doing well. That's quite the bucket of comb! What are you going to do with it?

    It's an exciting time of the year for beekeepers! Never a dull moment. Good luck with your packages!

    1. The thing about wax is that it always looks like way more than it actually is -- especially when you have a bunch of drone comb. My son was super surprised to find that he could lift that bucket with great ease.

      However, I can't tell you what I'm going to do with the wax quite yet. I have a really neat project in mind that I want to share, and I don't want to give it away with spoilers! :-)


Thank you for your comment! I can't wait to hear what you think!