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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    627

    Default Second inspection of the year- springlike!

    It was in the low 70s (F) in Saint Louis today and I had the opportunity to inspect my two overwintered colonies. One is a bit stronger than the other but they both looked to be embracing spring!

    The nuc that was a bit weaker looked like it was fighting off robbing so I went through it fast and put a reducer (drilled cork) in the entrance that narrowed it down to one bee at a time. It took a few minutes for the pollen-laden foragers to figure it out but then they were back to business less the fighting at the entrance. There were a couple of capped brood cells, some very young larvae, and a whole bunch of maybe two day old eggs. Both were busy bringing in a lot of pollen and even some nectar from somewhere. I even saw both queens! One was marked but it has worn off and the other I never marked. I'd like to mark them but decided to wait until it won't be a tragedy if something goes awry (drones around).

    What struck me most was how little stores the Buckfast colony went through overwintering. I had thought they had gone through six combs of honey but they really only went through a little over half of the honey on six combs and a tiny bit on a seventh. Now that they are bringing in nectar and pollen their available room to store and lay in the broodnest is impaired by their frugality so I added three empty drawn combs from one of the lost colonies (not from the one that had dysentery). I think in three weeks the population of this colony is going to ramp up dramatically. (YAY!)

    The other colony went through almost all the honey on their 9 full and one partial bar. There was maybe a hand sized patch left when I checked in February so I took out some of their empty drawn comb and gave them three and a half bars of honey. They may have been fine anyway since they still have that hand sized patch plus nectar but I had it so it was easy insurance.

    All in all I am just tickled to see them thriving! After I inspected I took a nice walk around my neighborhood looking for all the old silver maples that must be helping my bees rebuild after a long winter. I always enjoyed nature but I look at it with completely different eyes now. There used to be a silver maple in front of my house but it was on the downhill side of it's life and was removed by the city. Most of them in my neighborhood were planted around the same time and are about at the end of their lifespan. They don't seem to get planted much anymore and it made me wonder what will help the neighborhood's bees through a hard winter when they are gone. I know we have some red maples around that are younger, but they also don't bloom as early. (Before bees I didn't think about either blooming at all!)

    I hope like me you are all enjoying the expanded world that keeping bees has given you! Happy almost spring!
    3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
    Posts
    619

    Default Re: Second inspection of the year- springlike!

    Thanks for posting the update. Very exciting to hear how the honey bees are doing out your way.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    627

    Default Re: Another spring inspection

    I inspected my Hybrid KTBH/Lang/Warre nuc with the MNH X Missouri Mutt queen (and attempted to mark the queen) yesterday and then the Buckfast KTBH today.

    The nuc balled the newly marked queen so I caged her and introduced her like a new queen to them today. Hopefully I caught them before they did irreparable damage to her but only time will tell. She was not moving at first but came around after a while.

    It was interesting seeing the difference between colonies. The Buckfast colony was 1/3 bigger last time and looked like it was going to expand rapidly but had a high mite count. The MNH X Missouri Mutt colony has now come from behind and is fast overtaking the Buckfast in colony strength. (They also had a much lower mite count). Well, they were before this queen snafu. The colony just looks better. More nectar, more pollen, more capped brood, drones being capped, a queen cup at the ready. It is hard to explain but they just have better energy. Move with purpose. The Buckfast colony didn't have any drone brood, they still have capped honey from last year but they have less nectar and less pollen. They also seemed to have less of that energy and purpose.

    I'm hoping the Buckfast colony rallies but what I saw today has me nervous. My plan is to pull the queen into a nuc when they build up enough to requeen. The hope is to get a better mix of genetics from the Buckfast queen, drones from my other colony, and the feral bees around.

    Oh, and I should mention I haven't seen any sign of SHB yet this year. There were a few trying to overwinter in the colonies but those the cold winter didn't get I got when I swapped out both hive bodies early this year. I imagine I'll see them later this year when the ones that hitched into the area in other people's bee packages start proliferating. (I didn't get a package this year so I didn't bring any in.)
    Last edited by Colleen O.; 04-12-2014 at 11:58 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
    Posts
    763

    Default Re: Second inspection of the year- springlike!

    Glad to hear they seem to be doing well!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,550

    Default Re: Second inspection of the year- springlike!

    I inspected an overwintered nuc that came from a swarm today. Going like gangbusters. I put in an empty bar in the middle of the brood nest about 2 weeks ago and they have drawn it out and filled it with drone, which I'm cool with. They have a ton of pollen and a good amount of brood. Numbers look great. They only have three empty bars, so I'll move them in to a real hive next weekend. Only one queen cup seen in the hive (empty). I was kind of hoping to see some swarm cells. This has been a really good hive, I was prepared to split on the spot if I saw any in there.

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