Sunday, April 6, 2014

Good News/Near Disaster

Ok, maybe not necessarily a disaster, but I almost caused a lot of trouble for myself.
First, the good part.  It was a 64 degree day and partly sunny, and we just came back from a trip to Virginia to see our daughter and her family plus an added trip to Charleston, SC for fun.  I was anxious to see how the bees were doing, and I wanted in particular to see if we had a queen.
Kathy prepared some sugar syrup and added the fumagilin B to a gallon of that.  I gathered up my supplies and tools and headed out to the hive.  I had set up a new stand, which I plan to use to hold at least two hives.  I set it perpendicular to the line of the old hive location but only a few feet away.
I pulled the top box (of 3) off and set it aside, as well as the middle box. I began looking through the bottom box, but only found frame after frame of bees loaded with pollen but no capped or uncapped brood.  I took this box off and set it on the new hive stand, on a screened bottom board.
 After pulling one frame out of the middle box, I could see right away that the next frame had capped brood.  Hurray--I was mostly sure this hive was queenless, so this was a great sight.  I pulled a frame out and examined it briefly and things looked fine.
The new hive stand
I picked up th box and set it on top of the bottom box on the new stand.  Lifting it, I saw hundreds of bees that had crawled out of the bottom still on the board.  I scooped a bunch onto the inner cover, which was lying nearby, and dumped them on the old bottom board which I propped near the new hive location.  I decided I had better take a second good look at the bees still on the board, just in case the queen had dropped out.  In only moments, I saw the queen crawling around on that board. I quickly used my hive tool to gently move her onto my hand.  I placed her on the landing board in front of the hive.  She very quickly went into the entrance and into the hive.  Whew!!!  Well, she was a good looking queen, Minnesota hygenic, and made it through the winter in fine shape.  
I put the styrofoam feeder on top and added the gallon of medicated syrup.  I left the spacer on, since there was still a bit of a patty they were busy consuming.  I'll probably take that off in a few days.
This hive was overflowing with bees.  The top box is still heavy with honey.  Why this many bees was able to make it through the winter with plenty of food left and I lost two hives is a puzzle.
I will order one Minn. hygenic queen this week and make one split.  In mid-May, I'll make a second split and let them try to make a queen.  If numbers continue to go up, I could make a third split later and see about giving that one away.

Another good sign of spring--our ospreys have returned!  They apparently arrived while we were gone last week.  Here you see her sitting on the nest.  Sorry about the fuzzy picture, taken through my telescope and a screened window.  This is on the cell phone tower just beyond our property.  I think this is the fourth year they have nested in this site.