Saturday, April 2, 2016

Chugging Along

This past Wednesday was 60 and sunny, and the bees were pretty mellow. A quick inspection of all the hives revealed that things look decent for everyone but Austeja. I'd go so far as to say that Hippolyte, Elsa, and Peach even look phenomenal. Everyone has brood -- including some drone comb -- and good stores of honey.

New drone comb. It just looks so pretty!

Austeja, the exception, is a disappointment. She was mated late last year (around Aug or Sept, I think), so maybe there weren't enough drones for her. Or maybe, she just came through winter with such a small cluster that it's taking longer for her to catch up. The queen is definitely in the hive, but I'm shocked by how little brood she has -- 2, maybe 2 1/2 bars. Though her numbers are not the greatest, at least the pattern is decent. In other words, if I look at an area, I see ever-widening circles of brood, and brood in the various "rings" are all the same age. My best guess is that she simply doesn't have the workers she needs to care for babies.

The queen is definitely in the house.

This is actually a nice brood pattern. There just aren't enough bees in the hive.

I ended up giving her two bars of 98% capped workers from Hippolyte. Since capped brood don't require much care, they shouldn't tax Austeja's limited workforce too severely. When they emerge, these extra workers should also improve her ability to rear more brood and forage. As an added precaution, I also marked the bars from Hippolyte. Although there is no reason for the bees to try and raise a queen from one of the few eggs/larvae on that bar, if they even try, I'll cut them out in a heartbeat.

Bubblegum got some new digs inside the newly refurbished Persephone.

Persephone, nee Bubblegum

Finally, I reorganized the hives for spring and removed some capped honey left over from winter to make room in the hives. Some bars were harvested, but others were reserved for splits.

My hives are running out of room, but so is my freezer. Will have to harvest some of these.

In the interest of time (because I have a few weeks from hell until the middle of April), I let my six-year-old do the harvesting. Instead of using my cider press (which is hard for a little one to turn), she did it old school with a bowl, potato masher, bucket, and strainer. I've never seen a kid so happy to do chore.

Filtering honey. Will have to melt some wax soon, too.

It turns out, that one of the bars was spring honey from this year. If I had caught it in time, I would've separated it out for my son who prefers the lighter flavor of springtime honey. Hopefully, there will be plenty more where that came from this year.

We're supposed to get rain and snow for the next week. Although it looks like I took a ton of honey, there is still plenty left in the hives to tide them over until things bloom in real earnestness. Actually, The magnolia has already started to bloom, so the honey will be rolling in any day now.

Magnolia down the street. The flowers are just starting to pop open.

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