Saturday, May 28, 2016

Catching Up on Inspection Notes

I'm catching up on my inspection notes (5/19 and 5/27) today.

May 19
It was amazing to me how much of a difference 10 days makes. During the previous inspection, I'd thought Buttercup and Persephone looked so-so at best. But they proved me wrong and had exploded. In fact, all the hives looked fantastic. Elsa had so many bars of pollen that I had to remove a few to make room for honey and brood.

A bar from Persephone, I think. Nothing wrong with that!

Bar of pollen

Peach and Persephone were just starting to make swarm cells (queen cups with some eggs in them), so I made two splits from them.

J's split had a queen and lots of eggs. I'll watch the queen for a few weeks, but then it should be ready to pass on to him.

B's split was kind of curious. There were eggs and larvae in there, but there shouldn't be a queen. But the eggs looked like viable eggs that a queen would lay. Not a lot of bees or brood, though. So strange...

The other hives looked like they were going to start swarming soon, too.

May 27
The weather broke overnight this week. We went from endless rainy days in the 50's and 60's, to blazing sunny 90's. Although I'd planned to inspect the hives on Wednesday and then Thursday, something kept coming up. In a way I'm glad. I probably would've ended up with heat stroke. When I finally inspected on Friday, I had to start at 8:30 in the morning in order to beat the worst of the heat.

The hives that have been split (Peach, Hippolyte, and Persephone) are bursting with honey. The other hives (Buttercup, Elsa, and Austeja) are bursting with bees. Buttercup was just starting to make swarm cells, so she got a split as well.

Swarm cell from Peach.
Recently capped so it might be another week or so before the queen emerges.

B's Split
This one has been puzzling me, since I've seen bees coming and going, but there are hardly any bees inside. A quick peek inside showed a teeny cluster of bees that must've stayed behind when the previous install absconded. It also revealed.... brood??? Yep, capped brood, larvae, eggs... What the heck??? Beyond curious, I opened it and found that the bees had raised their own queen. A very sad, tiny thing, but she was there laying eggs. I knew bees were resilient, but wow!

Anyway, I don't think those bees are going to survive without a lot of help, and I just don't have the time/resources to do that. Instead, I communicated with B, and the plan is to pinch that queen (sorry) and install a shook swarm from Austeja in her. Austeja has 2 empty bars left, so she desperately needs some thinning out.

Just what in Sam heck do they think they're doing?

Elsa is not quite at the point of making swarm cells, but she's close. I guess she'll be ready in about 2 weeks. Meanwhile, she seems to be interested in clearing some space out in her roof. There was a huge hole. Not sure if the hole was made by a mouse or bees, but a handful of bees was very busily yanking at the insulation. Michael Palmer says bees hate duct tape, so I used it for "repairs." We shall see.

Words to live by

I should've checked whether Hippolyte had a queen yet, but I didn't because she was so pissy. To calm her down, I've decided split make 3-4 splits from her and give each one a bar with swarm cells.

She has a swarm cell that looks pretty polished, so her queen should emerge any day now. Should have some eggs by the middle of the first to second week of June.

Queen cell from Persephone

What's in bloom?
Black cherries, centaurea, honeysuckle, alliums, strawberries, and buckeyes have been blooming for awhile, and I'm just beginning to see white and red clover. My radishes and spinach are starting to bolt, too.

Black cherry





Overall, the blooms this year have been quite disappointing. The late cold spell we got must have killed a lot of buds. All the gardeners I know have been complaining about a lack of flowers on their trees and shrubs. It's a little frustrating because we had an amazing spring flow the last couple of years, but this is probably why I'm still interested in bees. I can never count on things to work out the same way twice, so they keep me on my toes.


  1. Sounds like the bees are booming, in spite of the weather. You mentioned you pulled pollen bars from Elsa to make some room. What do you do with them? Would the bees remove the pollen if you had left it eventually, or not? I've seen some of this in my hives and am not sure what to do with it.

    1. Good question. I gave the pollen to splits. If the hive gets too crowded, I may freeze some combs to give back to the bees next spring when other people are feeding pollen patties. Some people harvest the bee bread, but I'm not interested in it.

  2. Glad to hear things are generally good in your bee yard, Julie! So many splits - do you have enough equipment to hold them all?

    1. Thanks, Don! No, I don't have nearly enough equipment. Even worse, I don't have nearly enough space. I won't be keeping all the splits, though. 4 full-sized hives and 4-6 nucs are enough for me to manage, I think. Inspections are getting to be quite a lengthy affair now. Whew.

    2. I hear you! I'm up to 7 hives (and only 3 in my backyard) and it takes quite a while to service them all! I need to build a few more hives/nucs in case I get any more swarms or need to split. I'm hoping to have enough survivors to not have to buy new bees next year, but don't know where I'm gonna put them all!

    3. Wow! 7 hives already! I've often wondered how you find the time to visit all these hives in various locations. It's definitely a challenge figuring out what to do with so many bees. This year, I was even secretly happy when a colony died out so that I had a place to put a split. Not having to buy bees, too, is definitely a good thing!


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