Monday, June 9, 2008

Week 6: Tale of Two Hives

It's been 8 days since I inspected inside either hive. This past week's weather has been stormy. rainy and windy, not very conducive to foraging the white clover that I've caught a few bees exploring.  Yesterday, we had storms all afternoon until early evening. Finally, today, it was partially cloudy and in the high 70s; a nice day to open the hives.

I always go into each hive anticipating certain things, extrapolating from what the state of the hives were the week before. I expected the inspection of  Bee Glad... to be pretty straightforward with few surprises; Metpropolis would be another story, I imagined, with a continuing battle with cross-comb. Both hives surprised me.

Bee Glad..., the langstroth hive, was opened first. The upper box had bees working on three frames. One is halfway drawn, the other two are in their beginning stages. I removed the top box to discover a bottom box brimming with bees which was a little intimidating at first. What had been a box that was easily inspected last week became a box filled with sticky frames, burr comb, and some interconnected frames. Taking frames out was a job. It was as if the bees forgot how to draw straight comb. I did not want to cause comb failure, nor kill or roll bees in the process of removing and returning frames. I was very slow and focused in my actions, scraping burr comb here and there, and trimming comb off  a few frames. 

The health of the hive is great. Plenty of eggs, larvae and capped brood. I decided to "pyramid" two frames up to the top box in effort to get the bees to draw some straighter comb and to get the queen to begin laying in both boxes. I closed up and went on to Metpropolis. I was a bit discouraged with the work I had to put into Bee Glad..., almost regretting using foundationless frames. What kept it all in perspective was that fact that my friend, and  colleague who is also starting to beekeep this year, has been having the same difficulties and he is using foundation.

Metpropolis was a real joy to work. I am so glad Gerry Gomez Pearlberg at Global Swarming convinced me to try out a top bar hive as a beginner. Most all the comb is straight, bars come out easy, and, with care, I have yet to have a comb break while examining it. I did a bit of comb trimming, using my handy cradle. (Gerry, I promise, I will upload a photo of it soon!) The cross-comb problem I reported the last few weeks is slowly, with judicious trimming and new bar placement, working itself out. The best thing is that the bees seem to tolerate my work in Metpropolis more than in Bee Glad... Thank you, Gerry, Phil Chandler and Michael Bush for introducing me to this approach to beekeeping.

Metpropolis looks healthy as well. Plenty of brood in all stages, pollen stores seem fine, and honey is coming in.

Overall, the honey bees are doing much better then I anticipated, especially given the poor foraging weather we've had.

(Sorry about the lack of photos in today's blog. Monta was at work during the inspection.)

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