Monday, September 17, 2012

Inside the Hive…

I’m not sure that I know any more today then I did yesterday as to what happened or what is going on.  With help from Randy who was manning the smoker (cause men love fire and smoke!) we went into the hive.
What did I see in there, well there was some capped brood, very, very little capped honey, no uncapped honey at all, no uncapped brood, no signs of queen cells but I spied what I believe was the queen I got this spring as she had a large silver dot on her and small hive beetles.  I didn’t see small hive beetle larva, slime, feces or black “goo” anywhere.  I didn’t see dead bees, moths or anything that said anything specific had taken place.  So what did I learn one of two things happened or maybe both but in what order I don’t know.
I think my hive was robbed, massively.  I think something chewed through the plastic mesh screen on the ventilation holes and started taking their stores.  Yellow jackets, hornets and even other honeybees will steal from weaker hives, they smell food and they want food and they take it.  Can I prove this happened nope.  Is it possible that my hive swarmed and left the hive weakened? Yes it’s possible except for the fact that I believe I saw my marked queen and if they swarmed she should have gone with them.  Is she clipped and didn’t go, well I’m not sure.  The apiary that I got my bees from sells most of their queens clipped and marked but they charge extra to do that on Italians, which is what I got and I don’t remember asking for it.  I’ve read that a clipped queen will try and leave and she may come back if she can’t go, I’ve read that the swarm won’t leave without a queen and will wait for a virgin queen to leave with them.  Could that have happened?  I suppose but honestly I really don’t know.
So, bet you are now wondering what do I know?  Am I going to give up and toss in the bee aspirations????
Nope, lol I’m just crazy enough to try again, but I’ll BEE going a different route.  My bees are going to come from a different apiary that doesn’t tell you that the bees you are getting are coming from the northern US and then sends bees from Georgia.  We are also going to be building some hybrid Tanzanian style Top Bar Hives.  See I love a lot of the aspects of Top Bar Hives, I love the height, I love that I don’t have to lift supers that are forty pounds a piece and I love that I don’t have to dig through to inspect.  What I don’t like though is that the top bars aren’t framed, I learned this summer that heat in the hive leads to comb collapse and I don’t want to do that again.  I also learned that many, many of the products that would make things like feeding and battling small hive beetles easier aren’t readily available for top bar hives.  A hybrid hive will allow me to combine the best of both styles and open up all those things that I’ve come to find out that it would be nice to have. A screened bottom board, frames and even the ability to reduce the entrance to the hive.  The biggest thing I’m going to do differently, is I’m going to be getting two packages  nucs, (which is a nucleus colony with brood, pollen and honey on frames) this time, I’m going to start two hives because right now I need another hive to help the one that is struggling and all I can do for them is feed and stay positive. 
If I lose them, they don’t make it to the winter or survive the winter I’ll be sad for sure.  I love them I really do and I’ve enjoyed every moment I’ve had with them and if I had it my way, I’d be putting them in an observation hive and bringing them into the sunroom for the winter.  They however have taught me a lot and for that I’ll BEE forever grateful!
Wish us luck!

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