Monday, March 26, 2012

Good, Bad News

Sorry no photos--I was working mostly by myself and had a lot to do so I didn't take anything.
It was 72 degrees and has been nice for at least a week, so after coming back from a trip out east I decided I needed to get in and see what was going on as well as add mite strips.
Bad news first.  Hive #1 seemingly has no queen.  In the top of 3 boxes, I found scattered drone cells along the bottom of several frames.  No queen in sight.  There were a few in the box below as well.  There were still several frames of honey and bees were bringing in lots of pollen and even filling some cells with nectar.  The number of bees was adequate.  They still had not touched the pollen patties.  I removed a couple old frames, rotated the boxes, put on the medication strips and closed it up. 

Hive #2 was very healthy with most of the pollen patty gone, good brood patterns and a lot of capped and uncapped larva.  I found the queen pretty easily in the middle box.  I set that frame aside in a safe location and looked to find some good frames to start a nuc with.  My plan is to go ahead and let them raise a queen and keep a nuc going since I really seem to have trouble keeping queens.  The missing queen in #1 was the one we bought last summer, a Minnesota Hygenic.  The one we reared in #2 is still going strong. 

When I picked up the frame with the queen on it again, she scampered around the corner of the frame.  I turned it over and looked but could not find her.  I looked for quite awhile.  I was holding the frame over a hive body, so if she dropped off I hope she dropped into that box.  I never did see her again.  My plan is to open that hive up again later next week.  If anything has happened to her, there won't be any larva in the hive.  If things are ok, I'll take hive #1 and dump all the bees out away from the hive, to get rid of laying workers, put in some frames with eggs/larva and have them raise their own queen.  If that fails, hopefully I'll have a queen from the nuc to use.

Monday, March 12, 2012

First Inspection of the Year

     Starting tomorrow, our temps will be above 70 degrees for at least a week.  Incredible.  My plans are to do an inspection of each hive, probably Wednesday.  I'll check for the presence of laying queens in each hive, treat for mites with the mite-away strips from Mann Lake, and generally clean them up, including removal of the styrofoam insulation from winter.  I'll give a summary here later in the week on what I find.
     Our plan is to do splits, providing I have laying queens and sufficient bees.  A friend lost his bees last year and would like to start them again.  Hopefully we can do that.
     A couple weeks ago, I finished our barn quilt and put it in place.  I had hoped to put it above the window on the end of the barn, but there just wasn't enough space.  It still looks fine here.  I chose the colors because they represent the colors of the Iowa Hawkeyes, and the hexagon design to represent the bees.  It's funny, but when a large group of hawkeye fans gathers together, decked out in their black and gold, they're often referred to as "bumble bees".
     Barn quilts have become quite popular in Iowa.  Some counties have posted web sites showing off some of their artwork.  Here are a few examples:




     And, of course, here is ours: