Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Story Of A Beehive That Struggled For A While But Is Doing Better Now

I’m back! It has been a while, I know, and I will admit that initially it was just laziness on my part. But then the computer went down and it took a couple of weeks to get it up and going again. Now it has been so long and so much has happened that I am not sure how to tackle everything in one post. I guess I will add it all in “chapters”.

Back in July and August I mentioned that the Virginia hive was doing a poor job of drawing comb in its super with the queen excluder. I removed the queen excluder and the bees moved right up, started drawing comb, and storing nectar. I didn’t think the queen would move up to the super because she had a ceiling of honey on the tops of the frames in the top deep hive body. In other words she was “honey bound”. At the next inspection though, I found eggs in the center frames of the super. We don’t want eggs in the super because that is supposed to be the honey that we get to steal. I promptly put the queen excluder back in place to keep the queen out of my honey. During a later inspection I found that all of those eggs had developed into larvae and then capped brood. It was just a matter of waiting for them to emerge from the cells and clean them out so the cells could be filled with nectar which would be “ripened” into honey.

While Virginia suffered complications, Georgia’s hive seemed to be really taking off. She has been outpacing Virginia since the middle of July. Virginia was definitely the stronger of the two hives in the beginning and she filled up her deep hive bodies about a week before Georgia did. Starting in July, though, Virginia began to struggle. I mentioned in an earlier post that I destroyed what may have been a supercedure cell in Virginia’s hive. Since that time I have left the bees to do what they wanted. I did see what could have been supercedure cells in Virginia but did not look too closely as I did not want to damage them. They might also have been empty queen cups. In any case, Virginia seemed to lack the activity outside the hive that Georgia was having- that is until a few days ago. I went out to work a little in the garden and found hundreds of bees in front of Virginia taking orientation flights. I had not seen this for a while and I was getting a little nervous. I have theorized that Virginia’s bees did supercede the queen and it took a while for the new queen to emerge, mate with the drones, start laying eggs, and then for those new bees to emerge and start working in the hive. Now we just need to let her build up her numbers and I think she will be good to make it through the winter.

That's probably good for now. I will catch you up with the rest later.

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