Monday, May 9, 2016

A Murphy's Law Kind of Day

I feel like this kid today:

We got our first truly sunny day in weeks, so inspections seemed in order. However, I could not have done a worse job. I was a fat-fingered klutzy mess manhandling the bees. Seriously, if something could be broken, dropped, spilled, cut... I did it. It was an awful performance on my part, and the bees let me know it. On the other hand, I wasn't entirely happy with the bees today either.

Good news first...

John's split. I made a split for my friend John a couple of weeks ago, and the bees are right on cue. The queen should have emerged by 5/7. I didn't see her in the hive, but I noticed all the queen cells were broken down, so fingers crossed she's on a mating flight today.

Elsa, Peach, and Austeja. All three are looking really good. I think they may be ready to split in the next couple of weeks.

The bad news...

Buttercup and Persephone. The bars of brood I gave them seem to have boosted their numbers and gotten them building up. However, I'm not loving their brood patterns. They're looking kind of patchy. Buttercup never really did get going last year, but Persephone (nee Bubblegum) was one of my best queens last summer.

In any case, no splits from these two. Instead, both of them will get requeened soon -- maybe next month. I've been wanting to bring in some new genetics, so I'm thinking I'll try to get some cold-hardy TF queens from Vermont or New Hampshire.


Hard to see, but the comb has different aged brood side by side.

Hippolyte & Bill's nuc. Although I haven't done any real inspections in the last couple of weeks, I did split Hippolyte during a short break in the weather on April 30. Bill, a local beek, told me he'd take a nuc using Hippolyte's queen (God bless him!) because he didn't mind testy bees and had lots of space with nobody in the vicinity. So a couple friends came over to look at the hives, and we basically made a package with Hippolyte's queen, but we used Bill's nuc instead of a package box. After my friends left, I also gave them some brood to anchor them, and stapled some 1/4" hardware mesh over the entrance to keep her majesty's poochy tummy inside. Then I crossed my fingers that all was well.

Looking for the queen
Because of the weather, I've been feeding them quickly, not wanting to open up and really look at whatever was going on. Well, today, was very disappointing. I couldn't find the queen, most of the bees were gone, and all the brood looked chilled. They had left. Bugger.

Hippolyte did have some really nice queen cells along the edges of her comb, though so am trying again with a queen cell. I tried grafting a cell like Mangum describes in his book, but who knows how well it's going to turn out. I guess a few days will tell if it worked or if I royally screwed up.

Trying again. Will leave the nuc on top of old hive until this evening to equalize the bees.
Oh, another thing. Hippolyte has a moisture issue in the back of the hive, and I think her roof may be leaking. Sigh.

Ants. Not a hive called Ants. Just ants. Loads of them on top of the bars. Persephone has them the worst. Ants are actually taking up residence in the back of the hive. Sprinkled some orange oil on top of the bars to deter ants, but it looks like petroleum jelly time.


More ants

Enough for today, though. I need a shower. A glass of wine would be awesome, too.


  1. Ugh! I hope your DH got you that glass of wine! Every trip to the bee yard is a new adventure which adds to the "fun" of it all. I'm glad you got a break in the weather that allowed you to at least take stock of where things stand. I'll be interested to hear how your graft works out and hope you can get those ants under control!

  2. Bad days suck, so sorry. That and I hate ants. I'm so glad my hives have not yet had them. Did you find a way to get rid of them? Hopefully so.

    The rain and clouds have been crazy. I think in Virginia we've had just enough warmth and dryness for the bees to forage most days. They seem to be hanging on, so to speak. We're supposed to get a cold front moving in on Sunday, bringing more cold weather. The forecast has some 40 degree weather for next week (brrr).

    It will get better (I hope!).


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