This is mainly record keeping for me but I thought I'd post it so that people who were interested could follow their progress.
Usually you only wait 2 weeks between hiving the bees & the first inspection but the weather meant that it was pretty much a month.
In between hiving the bees & the first inspection I added vaseline to the legs of the hive to stop as many ants on the hive, they were really bad at the beginning, I suspect the sugar water feeder didn't help.
I added 2 bars to the back of the hive (in front of the follower board). Unfortunately I did it on a cloudy day & 2 of the girls weren't happy about it... while one buzzed my head the other tried to sting my leg. As soon as I felt the sting I flicked her off, as she was stinging me through relatively think fabric I don't think she was able to give me the full dose & the stinger was not left behind. It burned a little & I got a red mark but I'm not sure if I would have reacted worse from a full sting or not.
I also noticed that there was a lot of moisture in the back of the hive behind the follower board. After talking to Eliese at the TBH course I decided to take out all of the top bars from that side of the hive as well as the cork to help air circulation. It seems to have worked as there's no condensation on the window on that side anymore.
Inspections should be done every 7-10 days, I plan on doing my next one on July 8th, weather willing.
I marked the end of the top bars closest to me to ensure I put them back into the hive the right way around.
There were 11 bars in front of the follower board. The bars are numbered starting from the follower board moving towards the front entrance.
1 - No comb
2 - No comb
3 - Small comb in the center of the bar
4 - Large comb not attached to the sides but slight attachment to bar 5 (add spacer when closing hive)- honey & pollen comb, none capped
5 - Large comb , small attachments to the sides - honey comb, some capped
6 - Large comb, attached to sides - mostly capped brood with pollen & honey on edges - Queen found between bars 5 & 6
7 - Large comb, attached to side - scattered brood with pollen & honey on edges
8 - 1st original wired comb, attached to sides, to bar & slightly to floor - capped brood with hatching & new bees
9 - 2nd original wired comb, attached to sides, to bar & slightly to floor - capped brood with pollen & honey on edges
10 - Medium small comb - some pollen & very little honey
11 - Very small comb in center of bar
I did not move the bees around to look for eggs or larva as there seemed to be lots of capped brood & I found the queen.
I must have 1 set of genetics that produces protective workers as for each bar I removed 2-4 bees would come off the comb, buzz loudly & fly into me to figure out what I was. I stepped back & let them go about their business. The rest of the hive ignored me & there was very little warning fanning.
2 bars to the front
1 bar to the back
1 spacer betweeh bars 4 & 5
I started taking pictures but ended up getting into the inspection & forgot to take any more!
( Pictures )
( To read more, click here. Picture heavy! )
On Sunday May 22nd I headed up to Chiron Farm out near Cochran to pick up my bees & to see a demo on how to hive them. The weather was threatening but didn't actually rain on us. As I drove home with a nuc (box) of bees in the back I debated on whether to hive them that day. I decided I'd set everything up but not hive them so as to give them time to settle down after their road trip from BC to the farm & then down to the barn. The plan is eventually to have them in the back garden but until the fences were built I thought it better to have them somewhere else. Cherrie & Max, he owners of the barn where I keep Ariel, said I could keep them down there.
This weekend saw me start on the backyard. As I mentioned in a previous post, I decided to do my veggie raised beds in a way that had wood at the bottom as a water renetion system & eventually, as it rots down, a source of nutrients. Unfortunately this meant digging down into the "top soil" (more on that later) to give an area in which the wood could go & water be retained. So Friday afternoon saw me digging out one 12'x4' bed & loosening up the soil in two others, another 12'x'4' and a 12'x'3'. I still have two more 12'x'3' beds to go, oh boy!
Now I say "top soil" because really it's nothing more than black clay (rather than the beige clay that's underneath), it doesn't have any drainage capabilities & it turns to sticky goo when wet. The only way I've heard of to improve that kind of soil is to add organics (adding sandy soil just turns it into concrete). Luckily I have a hay processing machine & I figure I ought to get something out of all the hay I've been feeding her over the years!
Saturday morning I rented a truck from U-haul & headed off to the barn. The owner of said barn filled the back up with 3 big scoops from the bobcat & we tarped it down. Yes it just happened to be the windiest day of the year, typical! Now before you all go EWW... this was from the 3-4 year old pile, it was well composed down & doesn't look or smell the same as when it's freshly "processed", it looks like good compost you'd buy at the garden centre. Once I finally unloaded it at my house... it takes a person a LOT longer to unload than it takes a bobcat to load I can tell you... I headed back to the barn to collect some dead fall from the wooded area in one of the pastures. On the way home I stopped at the garden centre to see if they had any plum trees but no luck... so I bought a 3-in-1 blueberry container instead. :)
Once I unloaded the wood I was just about ready to collapse so it was off to a hot shower for me. Unfortunately I missed out on movie night with K and gravy_grrl :( but I needed to finish the "truck chores" before taking it back Sunday morning.
Sunday I had to go pick up my beekeeping equipment. The hive needed to be assembled but with the help of K it was done fairly quickly. We still need to attach legs to it, despite K saying that if we leave it legless it wont run away! I also got a bee jacket that comes with a hood/veil and a bee hat that comes with a veil. That way if I anyone wants to come & take a look at the hive once the bees are in they can wear the extra protective equipment. :) I bought some eco friendly wood stain that'll be safe to use on the hive, so if I get time (HAHAHAHAHA!) I'll paint the outside.
Once that was done it was back outside to dig out the other 12'x4' bed. I added some of the wood to each & then dumped the soil back on. The traditional way of doing these beds is when you're building them where there's grass currently in place. You cut out the sod/turf, lay the wood in the hole & then lay the sod/turf, grass side down on top of the wood. As I just have dirt, dirt is what I added back on top! :D The next step is to add a layer of the compost. My attempts to do so were foiled by a missing bolt on my wheelbarrow as well as it having a flat tire... by then is was dinner time anyway!
What with riding, bootcamp & now yard work, I don't think there's any part of me that doesn't hurt!
I will post pictures later.
You can't really tell how much bigger the secon bee is from the overhead shots, but from the side you can see how much of her abdomen was curled under:
She was about twice the size of her "baby sister" and had trouble getting the little viola flowers to support her, the flowers range from 3/4" to 1 1/4" tall.
I'm hoping to go to Bees & Seeds on Sunday (having a little trouble with the registration page).
"Its a chance to learn about Permaculture and Beekeeping, and also get some hands on experience. The Bownesian Permaculture Project is in its 2nd summer and is now home of the Canamo Hempcrete project, an earthen-building going up this week made from Lime and Hemp! What a great place to come and learn about alternatives to the norm next Sunday!"
They are also planning on opening up a hive so that we can see the hive structure... this is the main reason I'm going... the main stumbling block in the whole "I'd like to keep bees" plan is that I don't know if I can handle being that close to that many bees! I figure this might help me find that out. No point in spending money on a beekeeping course, hive, protective clothing until I know I can handle it!
I'm also hoping it'll give me some ideas for planting my garden once I get to the new place :)
& yes I will be wearing my Eddie Izzard "Covered In Bees!" t-shirt!
In the fall when it starts to get colder I can take the trays apart & use the scoop I got as part of the kit to remove the cocoons. They can be stored somewhere cool until spring... if I want to delay the hatching (like I did this year) I can put the cocoons in the fridge, they need to stored 2 - 4 C. I was a little worried this year that the fridge was too cold but I guess it was OK!
( More pictures... )
Last w/e I opened it up again & most of the remaining cocoons had hatched too... that would be the girls!
I had a look today & noticed two of the tubes are already blocked off & as I watched one of the girls backed out of another tube...
DA BEES ARE IN DA HOUSE!!
I have to admit, keeping them suspended in cocoon form for so long & not being sure of the fridge temperature I was a little worried they might not hatch... so stoked that they are alive, flying & laying!