Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hive Inspection Records Update

Bees with drawn comb and stored bee bread
I've been meaning to include the hive inspection results with the associated blog posts, but never got around to it.  So that I only have to record them in one place, I'm putting the results up on the blog, instead of here and in an Excel spreadsheet (even though I'm an engineer and it's really hard not to do it!).  
Bees "festooning" on a frame before drawing comb
History for Hive #1 ( or Unimatrix One as this geek likes to call it):
6 May 2012 - Package installed; sunny and clear; feeding 1:1 sugar syrup using entrance feeder

11 May 2012 - Verified queen released from queen cage, no further inspection of hive; 55deg F, calm, sunny; feeding 1:1 sugar syrup at rate of 1 qt every 4 days

20 May 2012 - Located the queen!  Marked with yellow dot for 2012, unsure if eggs are present, we don't see anything, but we're new.  Population is low.  Brace comb being drawn, notice double-layer comb on frame 3.  Feeding 1:1 sugar syrup in entrance feeder and added qt jar feeder over hole in inner cover (protected by empty deep box), going through 2 qts in ~5-8 days.  Saw many foragers carrying in pollen (orange, yellow);
Frame inspection:
     1: nothing
     2: nothing
     3: 10% comb built on left, 70% comb on right side, double-layer comb being built
     4: 80% comb built on left, 50% comb built on right side, queen spotted, lots of pollen
     5: 30% comb built on left side, nothing on right side
     6-10: nothing (some cyrstallization from spraying sugar syrup previously, some bees on 9)

28 May 2012 - Queen is laying well; warm, calm and sunny; entrance feeder empty, top feeder 3/4 emtpy, both refilled;
Frame inspection:
     1: nothing
     2: nothing
     3: 10% comb built on left, 80% comb on right side with 10% capped brood, eggs; double-layer comb a problem, some hatched brood 
     4: 90% comb built on both sides, with 10% capped brood, LOTS of larvae, pollen, some hatched brood
     5: 80% comb built on left side, most with bee bread, queen spotted, 10% comb drawn on right side
     6-10: nothing (some cyrstallization from spraying sugar syrup previously, some bees on 8)

9 June 2012 - Performed surgery on double-layer comb to remove it, encourage building straight, even comb; sunny and clear; refilled feeders, we are also refilling once in between inspections;
Frame inspection:
     1: nothing
     2: nothing (bees present on right side)
     3: 10% comb built on left, 90% comb on right side with 50% capped brood, eggs, larvae present; double-layer comb cut out; brood in 2 main central areas, surrounded by good amount of bee bread, capped honey in corners 
     4: 100% comb drawn on left, 90% drawn on right side, with 60% capped brood, pollen, some hatched brood
     5: 90% comb built on left side, most with brood, 50% comb drawn on right side, queen spotted, some brood
     6: 40% comb drawn on left side, double-layer comb started here also, eggs present, no comb on right side
     7-10: nothing

Most of the bees are grouped on these 3 frames, #3,4,&5.

Feeders refilled on 18 June 2012, had been empty for several days.  We are refilling the 2 quart jar feeders about once a week with 1:1 sugar syrup.  We should probably figure out a (cheap) feeder that's larger, to ensure the girls aren't sitting empty for days, and that also allows us to only refill during hive inspections.  I've got some ideas.  

We are feeding syrup for several reasons.  One, it's a new package, and having a solid supply of "nectar" is necessary for them to build comb, especially while the population is building up.  Two, it's been really dry so far this year (as evidenced by the forest fires running amuck around Colorado) and I'm not sure how much of a nectar flow is out there.  Third, all the bloom times got messed up by the early spring, so we're kind of experiencing our mid-summer dearth now.  Obviously some plants are blooming because the bees are foraging and bringing in pollen, but I don't want them to slow down building up if they can't find enough nectar out there.  Hence the supplemental feeding.  Once they have all the comb built in both of the deeps (the second one hasn't been added yet), we'll pull the feeders off and let them bring in their own supplies.

I need to remember to bring the Hive Inspection Sheets with me when we go out to the beeyard; I keep forgetting and Jason has to take notes on plain paper.  Not so bad, but the Inspection Sheets have specific items to check and take note about the hive, and a place to record the weather conditions, etc.  The engineer in me loves this.  It's important to remember to look for drone comb, queen cups/cells, and signs of pests/diseases; things that new beekeepers like Sarah and I might easily forget.  One more thing to throw in my beekeeping kit.

Lots of bees on the frame, but still a lot of comb to draw.

Even though it feels like the bees are making no progress on drawing out the comb, looking back at the records show they are drawing it out slow and steady.  Not always straight, but who am I to complain?  The beekeeper that's who! 

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