First Year Questions
This summer will mark just over one year that we have had a hive of Italian bees. During the winter we kept the queen excluder in just above one super which we were later informed probably was not the best decision so we removed it. Shortly after removal and once it started to get warm out we had a swarm which we recaptured and reintroduced into a second hive but left the next day. After a week it seemed that there was no queen, after an inspection of the hive as it seemed like there was no new egg cells. We then ordered two new queens and deposited one queen into each of the two hives with five empty frames and five full frames. How long should we expect before seeing egg cells from these new queens or how can we tell if the hive has accepted the new queen? On an unrelated note we are also unsure as to when we should be taking honey if at all. We took one sleeve two weeks ago which had dark dried wax around the edge of the frame with honey in the middle, we weighed the frame and it was just shy of eight pounds which gave us about five pounds of honey.
Re: First Year Questions
How soon should you be seeing eggs? It depends. Some Queens get right to business as soon as they are released. It may take others 5-7 days. I wouldn't panic post successful introduction for 7-10 days.
As to taking honey... The "dark dried wax" sounds like it was probably covering last years' honey. So probably not a big deal that you took it.
A couple of general points - never have a honey super on the hive when feeding sugar or sugar syrup. There is the likelihood that whatever ends up in the super is not honey but processed sugar - which while it is not going to make you sick - is not real honey so why bother. Second (and it is important) various medications can end up stored in the honey, so if for example you treat the bees in your brood boxes with Teramaycin (for American Foul Brood) you should NEVER consume honey out of the brood nest. Some medications have what are call withdrawal periods, meaning you need to wait so long before you can put honey supers on to collect honey. Food safety is important. Beekeepers need to protect the reputation of honey. So read and understand the label directions. Ask questions on BeeSource if something doesn't make sense or you are confused about how to properly use a particular medication.
Your goal as a beekeeper is to have the hive well provisioned with stores prior to winter. Many beekeepers (I'm one of them) hold that anything stored in the brood chamber belongs to the bees and I get anything stored in the honey supers. New hives, depending on your location, may not make any honey in their first year. So if you haven't used any chemical treatments and plan to do whatever is necessary feeding wise to get your bees ready for winter this fall, you haven't hurt anything by taking a frame (what is a sleeve?) of honey.
You can harvest honey from supers any time that it there and that it is convenient for you. Beekeepers south of you have to contend with something called the small hive beetle, which can quickly ruin a super full of honey, particularly if the super is stored off the hive. In Maine I don't have to deal with SHB - check with someone local to make sure you don't need to be concerned with them.
Congrats on making it to the one year mark.
Last edited by Andrew Dewey; 05-20-2012 at 04:41 AM.