Let me just start with OMG -
I worked very hard this year getting my bees going. This weekend I did an inspection, added a super - they looked great.
Then my former mentor and his apprentice show up - I've asked them a dozen times not to just show up and not to go into my hives without me - and here is the issue with mentors - they sometimes think they own the bees instead of you.
Luckily, I was home.
They wanted to look at the brood and I agreed (again this is where I needed to be firmer and tell them to leave the hive alone) but I didn't. Somewhere between taking the hive box off and a frame from it out, the Queen fell to the ground. And then flew away.
To say I was devastated would be an understatement. My husband found me bawling in the driveway.
Off went these two to find me a new queen, which they are installing today.
I spent two hours searching the grass for the old queen, giving birth to the understanding of "finding a needle in a haystack".
I hope my bees accept the new queen. I feel awful about the old Queen, doing nothing but her job when her whole world was sent upside down.
Lesson here: Be firm with your mentors when you feel it's time for you and them to part ways
As for me - As soon as the new queen is in I am making it PERFECTLY clear they are not to touch my hives again.
I'll admit I'm a somewhat new beekeeper (6 years) but really--how much worse could I do?
My bees didn't make it over the winter - many hives did not - cold temperatures, mites, moths, who knows.... very frustrating. One of my neighbors called it quits after years of losing her hives - I'm not quite ready yet. It took me years not to be afraid to go into the hive and even longer to remotely figure out what I'm doing (or what they are doing)
New bees came in April - today, May 26th, I added 2nd hive boxes. I was lucky as I probably should have been in there a week ago - frames 90% full - which is always a danger for swarms. For anyone new to bees reading this - it's like a crowded house - if there is no more room the queen and half the hive leave, which is not good for the beekeeper. I once saw a swam - it looks something like the tornado from The Wizard of Oz.
One hive looked good - brood solid pattern, pollen, nectar, honey. Other hive looked good and busy but hardly any brood. Time to call my friends at Hudson Valley Bee to see what suggestions they might have. By the way, if you are in NY they are a great resource with wonderful people and the only place where I have found they will build supers and hive boxes with wax foundation frames already assembled.
Even though we have lots in bloom right now, I'm going to feed the bees. Trying some things different this year. I am also going to treat for mites in July (July 21st preferably) with formicPro - I really hate having to use chemicals in any process of my homesteading but I also hate to see each year my hives die off. I usually only treated in the fall, but that is clearly not working so this year I am trying July and fall.
I am also going to look into this video to see if mushrooms may be the answer to having my bees survive over the year - who knows???
Weather has been very rainy and cold, neither good for bees. The left hive, weak from the start, hasn't progressed very much at all. Still only about 4 active frames, some minimal brood and honey activity. Found the queen easily but the lack of growth in this hive is cause for alarm.
causes? Some of the bees might have jumped to the right hive
Queen is not a good queen
Left hive is buzzing away. All frames in bottom hive box active with both honey and brood. Except for one thing - brood is not well patterned. While I've read that new bees and workers may need time getting brood sorted out, my bee advisor, Al, did not think the hive was doing well. During my inspection, I did not see the queen, but I was not overly worried as I did see enough brood activity.
Al was going to throw a new nuc in the left hive and was going to take a look at the right one again. In the meantime, I'm still feeding.
Last year's bees were pretty much a disaster - they failed quickly, perhaps swarmed, got shameless robbed, then died to moth infestation
So, here we are, once again with 2 new packages and brand new hopes.
So on with the jounal
One week ago we added the new packages. For the first time ever, my queens were marked. Let me say this - if you are new to beekeeping ALWAYS get your queens marked - what a difference it makes
Today was first inspection - Hive on left much stronger than right. Found both queens (easily thanks to their neon green mark).There were strong signs of pollen, syrup and nectar. Removed queen cages, made sure they had syrup and closed them up.
Will check on them at end of week to make sure feeders are filled.
Next full check will be May 6th - where they will be three weeks. At this time the hives should show capped brood and depending on how many frames are filled/active I will add 2nd hive body. This is also the check to make sure brood is being laid properly and queen is doing well...
After our spring discovery we purchased a queen and nuc. Now into the summer the two hives are doing well. We added supers but i was short one with wax foundation (always have extra equipment on hand) so we used an older one I had with plastic frames. Al (my mentor) told me to go back and change it to wax. Well a few weeks went by, things happened to pull me away from my farm chores, and when I happened to meet Al in the supermarket he reminded me about the super. He said in his opinion, bees just didn't like the plastic as much.
The next day I whipped up some wax frames (I'll post photos for those who don't know how to do it) and went to the hive. Sure enough, Al was right. The one hive that had supers with wax foundations were busy storing honey. The other with the plastic foundation was hardly touched.
Now they sell plenty of plastic - and I'm sure lots of people have good experiences with it - but I'm with Al--and so are my bees :)
I'm not sure why I didn't start writing this a long time ago so I could look back and see the progression of my beekeeping - but maybe back then I didn't even know enough to know what I should write !
We (my mentors and I) first checked my hives in March when we had an unusually warm day. Both hives had sufficient honey and both looked healthy. We did notice that hive #1 had a lot of dead bees in front on the hive, but it was winter so we attributed it to the time of year.
Today, April 16th, we did our full spring inspection. We were planning on cleaning frames, checking for brood, and overall health of bees. Al and Holly were with me. Al has been keeping bees 100 years (not really but he knows enough that one could believe it) and Holly is a knowledgable neighbor who lives around the corner from me. As soon as we opened the hive, Al knew something was wrong. Holly and I just looked at each other, confused. We dug deeper and found that there was only drone brood--a sign that the queen is gone and female workers are laying. The deeper we went into the hive the worse it looked. Not only was the queen gone but the hive next to it (hive #2) was robbing the hive of its honey. The bees in Hive #1 were agitated.
We went on to inspect hive #2 - that hive looked healthy - lots of well-patterened brood, honey, pollen, and we were lucky enough to find the Queen - 2nd frame from the right on the top A lot of people will tell you Queens are not that hard to find - well I respectfully disagree. It's like finding Waldo.
Now what to do - Al suggested combining the two hives, which we did. We took the top hive box Hive #1 and put it on top of the two hive boxes on Hive #2 - separated by a piece of newspaper. Al said this was so they could get acclimated to each other (bees from hive 1 and 2) -
we took the other hive box - moved it 15 feet away and out of site so the bees in there would hopefully go find new home in the 3-tier Hive #2.
How did Al know there was something wrong when he opened the cover? The bees started flying out - Al said bees shouldn't fly out when you open the inner cover. These were robbers, escaping as they knew they didn't belong.
I hoping to get a Queen and then split the box again or just a Nuc and start a new hive next to Hive #2 -