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The War is Over…for now…

Yesterday was an interesting experience, to be sure. Later in the day, after the Berkeley Hive check, I went out to check both the Southside Hive and the Blue Cottage Hive to see if they could use some more feed (more on this later.) After this check, I was pretty much harassed by a bee anytime I went out in my yard, no matter where I was. My house sits on a little over 3 acres of land. No matter where I was, a bee would eventually find me and begin to actively fly at me, in my face, hair and all of the rest.

Now, I know this wasn’t one bee. It sort of felt like it was one – perhaps from the Westover Hive looking to get even, but I knew that was nearly impossible. Something else was going on. I think, in retrospect, that I had alarm pheromone on me or in my hair from my adventures earlier in the day. When I would walk out into the yard, some nearby bee (who was simply out to get some nectar, pollen or water) would get a whiff of me and go into attack mode. It was more then a bit annoying and disconcerting.

At any rate, I took a good shower this morning and either the smell is gone or that lone enemy has gone back to its regular chores and decided to stop bothering me!

As to the late day hive checks yesterday, I was discouraged to find that the Blue Cottage Hive had not built up since the last check on June 7. Eleven days and not much to show for it. In addition, while pulling some of the empty (foundation only) frames to get to the center 3 frames, I found a moth. It was probably a wax moth. It was too wiley for me to smash, but it was a good reality check. I also saw the queen actually lay an egg on top of the comb! This could have been a reaction to my pulling the comb (perhaps she was in the middle of laying an egg when I pulled it), but I am becoming more and more convinced that this is a bum Nuc. The fact that I paid $75 for 2 frames of bees is a bit of an irritant. I seriously regret having recommended other folks to buy Nucs from the guy that I purchased them from. I can only hope that any of the new Beekeepers received a better deal then I did.

Regardless, we are definitely in a very dry period right now. I am fairly certain that build up will all but stop  until the Fall (and will only pick up again at that time if we have some rain.) The bees are probably going to hunker down and slow down the egg laying and try to eke through the summer without eating into their stores so much.

I have a lot of things going through my mind after the last couple of days. To begin with, I am going to move the Blue Cottage Hive into a Nuc. They are too small to be in a 10 frame box and simply cannot defend against their many predators with so much space. I will move their 2 worked frames and the 1 drawn frame (that was full of brood) that I placed with them in week 1, into a Nuc. I will then add one new frame of foundation and one more frame of brood. The frames in their deep will be frozen in my deep freezer for a few days (and the brood chamber left out in the Sun, far away from my other hives), in case there are Wax Moth eggs in them (the freezing should kill them good). My goal for the Blue Cottage Hive is to get them strong enough to move to a deep brood chamber as soon as possible. But, I have heard of other folks over-wintering Nuc’s. So, I might be trying that trick. As to the queen, I would bet that she is simply a poor specimen. But, I cannot rule out that she is simply slowing down (from what? she never really got going!) due to the dry spell and end of the flow. I might re-queen these gals, if the opportunity presents itself.

In addition, this slowing of the build-up phase has me questioning the wisdom of splitting the Albo Hive. It must have really been bothering me, subconsciously, as the moment I came to the decision that I would not split them until we had a good rain (and maybe not, even then,) I felt much better about the whole ordeal. Splitting at this time of year is a risk. Given the dry and hot weather of late, that risk has really become too great for this stage of my bee career. For now, I will only deal with the Westover Splits. Next year, I will definitely play with doing some early Spring Splits.

Finally, this moth (which I am nearly certain was a wax moth – but it looked like any old moth to me) will be dealt with today. I will setup two traps along the back line, where most of my weaker/smaller hives are. We’ll see if we catch any.

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