Findings/thoughts/ideas/concerns on spring inspection

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by bwwertz, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. bwwertz

    bwwertz New Member

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    Hello, beeks! We're baaaaaack. Me and my Dad that is. =) Yes, we're back in business so to speak. Spoke to a local farmer and told him I'd like to start using my bees to pollinate his watermelons this year. He was game to fund the operation, so we're giving it a go. He funded us two nucs and two 10 frame hives. Went to visit my girls last Thursday (3/8) and do some major spring cleaning. Went to my hive first (we have two hives - "Mine" and "Dad's"). 2 deeps, 9 frames. These gals didn't look so good going into winter - just seemed a little on the puny side. I visited them every so often from about November through now - went inside some when weather permitted. If my memory serves me correctly - which it usually doesn't - I thought back in October-ish I saw some eggs, but couldn't spot the queen. Think I even recall seeing some cells with more than one egg (laying worker)? So I wasn't too sure how they'd do over the winter. Dad and I put top feeders on back in December-ish and fed them sugar - yes, just raw sugar. Something new we were trying. My gals didn't touch it. My Dad's on the other hand - DEVOURED IT. I opened his hive up (also running 2 deeps, but 10 frames up until Thursday's spring cleaning) and the girls had eaten almost all the sugar and were building COMB in the FEEDER and starting to pack it with honey! WoW! And all this since February-ish!! I was super excited about this find! His upper deep was packed with all typical findings of a brood box. I reversed this so that the empty/honey/pollen frames in the bottom deep were now on top. Actually Dad had been running (from bottom board up - deep, medium, deep. He was trying to force his girls to draw out the white plastic frames he's bought. (It didn't work). I then realized/thought that maybe the queen was only laying in the top box - depsite the multiple empty cells in the bottom deep because she won't cross the increasingly honey filled medium supers. Isn't this right? I'm pretty sure I remember reading that somewhere. I also found my Dad's queen and marked her. (Boy, do I HIGHLY recommend doing that! Talk about making life easier!) I also clipped her wings - I had read pros and cons to doing so - but decided to do it after I had a queen fly away from me one day in my hive. What are your thoughts on queen's wings being clipped?
    I reversed hive bodies on both hives (took medium frame off my Dad's hive as I'm trying to get them to build up population fast to make another nuc or even a split). Still found no eggs or brood in my hive. No queen that I can see. I just can't figure how the girls have made it this long without a queen. Still some bees bringing pollen in, but not a very active hive. My Dad's is VERY active. The girls in my hive were also pretty calm (indicating a queen is present?) every time I've worked them. Dad's too for that matter. Had to use very little smoke today.
    Last Thursday (the spring cleaning day), I took three frames of eggs, brood, and larva from my Dad's hive, brushed off all his bees, and put them in mine. Today I worked them - no queen cell. Is it too early for them to have "built" a queen cell? That thought only occured to me after I was done for the day. It has only been 5 days exactly. I know they have to feed the royal jelly, but I'm pretty sure I gave them the right "aged" eggs in which to raise a queen. So - they were calm and I saw no evidence of a queen cell being made (queenright behavior?). But - I was able to quickly spot my Dad's hive on a frame PACKED with bees - how could I miss a queen in my hive with less than 1/4 that amount all five plus times I've looked? Very strange.
    So, I left my girls alone - they aren't even touching their sugar syrup either. ?????
    Dad's hive - the queen is very active - had filled up at least two more frames with eggs. Because we're trying to start two more hives to pollinate watermelons, I decided with the state of my Dad's hive we could probably safely make a nuc. I've never done this before, but I love to read and learn and pretend I'm a semi-scientist-apiarist. :lol: So...we gave it a go. Took one frame slam full of capped brood, one of mostly eggs with pollen, some capped brood, some larvae, and one frame of mostly capped brood and larvae, some eggs, and two frames of almost entirely capped honey - one on each of the "outsides."
    We left the queen in my Dad's hive to crank out some more babies (again - want to create another nuc in which to start a hive for the watermelons). I also put 5 new frames with new foundation in the upper deep for the girls to start drawing out (totalling 4 drawn, 5 new). We're also running a top feeder in Dad's hive (sugar syrup as of Thursday instead of raw syrup) and the girls have already drained it dry.
    So.......we had to move the nuc to a friend's house approximately 7 miles away because the watermelon patch is less than .3 miles from our house. It's through the woods and behind our house - but have to walk about 5 minutes to get there (cause no path through the woods.....yet:grin:). Dad read we could either move them 5 feet at a time (no thanks)- or move them 3+ miles away and then back to where we want them in the watermelon field. Question is..........how long do we leave them at our friend's house before we move them to the watermelon field?
    I know I tend to write as my brain thinks - which is not in a neat and tidy order.....maybe that's another reason I like bees so much. They're so precise! But.....hopefully you can follow along and give me your thoughts/ideas/advice on my few questions/concerns. Also....I noticed a few really "funky" things....mainly in the three frames that I had moved from my Dad's hive to mine....(hope to post pics later)
    I know I possibly damaged some of the brood cells when using the bee brush to clear all Dad's girls off before putting them in my hive.....but along the bottom of one of his frames, there were a LOT of drone cells (which I figured was normal to bring the drones back into the hive after having been kicked out for the winter) - but some of them the "brood capping" was gone, and they were dead in their cells. I saw maybe ten like this? VERY ODD. I also noticed quite a few bees - again, about 10 with VERY deformed wings. Babies - newly hatched with the more "downy" type covering. What on earth is going on here?
    Okay, I'll stop rambling and let you all have a go. I hope my writing style doesn't leave your eyes and or brain crossed like it does my family. :cry:
    Thank yoU!!!!!

    Oh yikes - spell check has to be downloaded. Okay, sorry for the typos then. No downloading tonight. Want to get this post posted already. :smile:
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip..
    Think I even recall seeing some cells with more than one egg (laying worker)?

    tecumseh:
    exactly two eggs in an individual cell I associate with a very young queen that is just getting her act together. many eggs in one cell is the sign of laying worker.

    another snip..
    Is it too early for them to have "built" a queen cell? That thought only occured to me after I was done for the day. It has only been 5 days exactly.

    tecumseh:
    after two days you should be able to see evidence of cells being built. the lack of cells and the demeanor of the hive suggest it does have a queen on board. in any case... after a long winter any 'hive' without a queen would also not have any workers still present. I would likely be asking myself here as to why that particular queen was not laying... might be resources (is there pollen and feed in the hive) or the queen herself (some queens/strains of bees will refuse to lay until there is pollen and nectar coming in <natural or provided by the beekeeper and shut down egg laying entirely when a flow stops).

    another snip..
    What are your thoughts on queen's wings being clipped?

    tecumseh:
    I don't normally do this myself but it is I suspect a good thing to do. upon swarming it keeps 'the girls' and us old guys out of the trees.

    another snip..
    how long do we leave them at our friend's house before we move them to the watermelon field?

    tecumseh:
    you want them in or near the watermelon field prior to the first bloom. for almost all watermelon grower having the first bloom get a good set is extremely important.

    another snip..
    I know I possibly damaged some of the brood cells when using the bee brush to clear all Dad's girls off before putting them in my hive.....but along the bottom of one of his frames, there were a LOT of drone cells (which I figured was normal to bring the drones back into the hive after having been kicked out for the winter) - but some of them the "brood capping" was gone, and they were dead in their cells. I saw maybe ten like this?

    tecumseh:
    I really doubt you damaged anything with a bee brush. I am not certain what the dead in the cells is about but always in adding brood to a hive any disease stuff you would NEVER want to transfer. sounds like you might be having some varroa transmitted disease/virus present.

    another snip..
    I know I tend to write as my brain thinks - which is not in a neat and tidy order.....maybe that's another reason I like bees so much.

    tecumseh:
    you likely are on to something there.