Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Home Built Comb

There has been a lot of rain this last week.  You may have heard of all the thunderstorms and flooding and tornadoes and the like.  I haven't had much to do with the bees, it's been frustrating.

But I do have some pictures from last week when I checked up on some queens that were hatching from splits.
Here is picture of nice fresh white queen cells drawn from fresh white foundationless comb.

Here are the more standard type, some times they blend in.
Incidentally, these two cells were chewed out by a queen from the other side of the frame.  That's life.

Finally, this is the base of worker comb drawn in a foundationless frame.  I took this picture to demonstrate the concept of Housel Positioning, an idea some follow.  Basically, you place the frames to the Y in the base of the cells is right side up facing away from the center of the hive and upside down facing the center.  No, I'm not going to be defending the practice.

Right now, I'm in a situation where my virgin queens have hatched (even saw one) but have not yet been able to mate do to the weather.  Fortunately, it is supposed to be in the low seventies tomorrow, so they will get their first chance.  From now on in, we have to build up to have enough frames of brood to start the four new hives what will house four new queens when they arrive in May.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Lot of New Stuff

Today's picture:

This last week, I have done quite a few things.
First, I ordered some Mann Lake PF-105's.

These are black plastic frames with a cell size of about 4.95mm.

I trimmed the end bars from almost 1 3/8"

To about 1 1/4".

This for what could be called "Narrow Frame Beekeeping."  Michael Bush's website explains it here.  The basic idea is that with smaller cells, naturally, the space between the combs will also be smaller.  Also, you can fit 11 frames in a 10 frame box, or nine frames in an eight frame box.

So, today, I was out working the bees to try to catch up the behinders and make the first split of the year.  I finally found the queen in the big hive who I was unable to find before.  Here she is.  She is a biggun.

I took her and about four frames of brood and placed them in my new 10 frame nuc design.  It's a ten frame sized box that is about 3/8" deeper than normal to account for bee space under the frames.  It has a disc entrance which can be closed in case of skunk predation or to be moved or whatever.

I had added some foundationless frames a week ago as an experiment.  Here is one of those frames after one week.  That is 100% drone comb by the way, and it already has eggs in it.

Here are some five frame nucs I made from plywood.  They are inexpensive and I added the disc entrances for an added measure of utility.  They could be used to catch swarms, as bait hives, as nucs in the yard, or to sell.  They are made from 15/32" plywood and one sheet can make about four and change.

So, now for the rest of the month and into next month, I am working to get enough brood to start the four new hives that will be made from the four queens coming in the mail in the latter half of May.  I hope these bees can explode and reach critical mass in time.  The skunk predation is still reverberating through the months.  Depending on conditions, the new queens may be starting with a very minimal population of bees.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pictures of Queens!

Here's today's obligatory apiary picture.

Here's a picture of the queen from one hive.

Here's a picture from another hive.

Here's one.

And finally this one.

One wasn't available for comment.
Actually, the problem is that one is pretty large and I couldn't find the queen.  The other four are smaller in comparison and the queen is a bit easier to find.  They are small primarily due to the skunk predation I've been experiencing lately, but I've taken steps to prevent that in the future.  Now I need to get them caught up.  With warm weather for the foreseeable future, this will be easier.  I can Robin Hood frames of brood from the best hive and get the others to critical mass.  I haven't been able to do that lately because the smaller hives couldn't keep the brood warm and it just died.