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Albo Hive Inspection & Blue Cottage Downsizing

I picked up a couple of new queens today (more on that tomorrow) to replace the queens in the Blue Cottage Hive and Pop’s hive. Basically, these hives have been under performing in my opinion. But, once I got home and mentioned it to Pop, he was incredulous that I had already given up on the grand ladies we picked up less then a month ago. He hasn’t kept bees in a couple of decades, but he has a bit more patience then I do! In the end, his comments were good as it caused me to give the Blue Cottage Hive another thorough inspection today.

This time, I took the time to note exactly where and how much she had been laying. After a good look, it is clear to me that she has pretty much laid in every available cell to her. The pattern is great. The problem is that she did not start off with enough bees to really get a good growth curve going. I have to go back to the old lesson that I have to relearn every month – leave the daggone bees be! I decided not to kill the old girl, but I did move the three frames they were working (really 2.5) along with one frame of foundation that they had started to draw out (about a quarter size,) into a Nuc.A Nuc only holds 5 frames and is a much more defensible position. I have run across several moths hanging under the lid of the cover or on a frame far away from the bees. These are probably wax moths looking to lay eggs (or maybe they already laid eggs.) I wanted to get the bees in a box where they consumed most of the space, hopefully giving them more of a chance to deal with these predators. Unlike the Southside hive, I rarely notice more then one or two small hive beetles here.

This hive will be an experiment for me. If they do not make it or build up enough, lesson learned. If they do, another lesson learned. Hopefully, they’ll get a full five frames drawn out over the next month and I can try to spend August to October getting them to fill out a full brood chamber. Like Doug said in a recent comment, it takes a worker bee 21 days from egg to emerging. The key now is to get them to draw out the remaining frames quickly so that they will get a good population going and I can move them to a brood chamber. Of note, they did have a nice dome of honey and a half frame of pollen. I will switch them to a MegaBee mixture shortly.

Now, I have two queens that need homes. These queens are supposed to be rocking queens, so I do not want to shirk them. I had checked the Southside Hive today, expecting to see a queen laying (although today is the earliest I would see that, according to the Bee Math). Instead, I found two more queen cells (that is really odd to me, as I cannot figure how they could have had any eggs in that hive that would still be in capped cells right now), in addition to a very old queen cell, in the horizontal position, from the original cut out! You’re supposed to put comb in at the same position (up-down) that you find it in the tree. I did not know this when I did my first cut out and just put it in however I could squeeze it. Apparently, they were in the midst of making a new queen when I did the cut-out. Sadly, I did not see that cell and put it in at the wrong direction. I imagine it has a dead queen in it now, although who knows. This might be the target for one of my new queens.

Finally, I had to get at least one small hive started for one of my queens. So, I did a full inspection of the Albo hive. Good lord. These bees are doing everything right but giving me honey. They had a ton of honey in the upper brood chamber and the queen was laying like a mad woman. The pattern was incredible in the bottom chamber. Bar-to-bar eggs. As a side note, I did notice what they call ‘backfilling’, a term Doug introduced me to. The workers have started to fill some of the cells that held brood with honey in the upper deep. As it stands right now, they have more then enough to make it through the Winter. But, they’ll surely eat into it over the next couple of months, so we’re not out of the woods yet. Regardless, this hive has received no feed (except what it probably stole from another hive) or other treatment. I will do a couple of dustings for mites in July/August, but that’s it. This hive has lots of promise.

My final task for this hive was also completed, as I moved all of the old frames that I started with last Spring to the outside of the hive. I will probably remove one or two this Fall, but will definitely remove all 4 next Spring.

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