Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Brian and Greg's Excellent Adventure Part I

On Monday June 10, 2013 I went out to check on my split hive out behind the experimental farm by Brian Eden's bee yard. The hive was moved there several days earlier to rest before moving it back to my yard.

Split Hive behind experimental farm

Ed gave me an inner tube to try out as a tie for securing the hive during transport. I had been using dollar-store ratchet straps that were too long (lesson learned - they are in the garbage). The inner tube work great! I also had a couple of stretchable tether straps in use. I leave the straps and tubing attached while the hive is resting; it saves having to remember them when it is time to move the hive again, and may provide a deterrent, however slight, to four-footed predators. Bit more of a hassle to open the hive for examination though.

I had an opportunity to assist Brian as he went through his hives. He checked for queen-right status, added a honey super here and there, and checked for mites on the bottom boards. Brian found an emerging drone and showed me how to bend the bee at the joint between the thorax and abdomen to look for mites in the fold.

Brian's smoker had an interesting smell, and I inquired about his fuel. He uses dried silage collected from spillage at a nearby farm.

Hawaiian Queen 
I was lucky enough to be able to get a queen from Brian, even after the first set aside for me had perished! Another split I had done earlier had rejected the introduced queen and raised their own. With honey flow fast approaching I was interested in introducing a queen in the current split.
Brian examining frame

Abundant Queen Cells
As it turns out, the colony has wasted no time in starting to raise their own queen. I feel a little lucky here. It was difficult to isolate frames with eggs because of the lighting conditions when I did my split, but I did alright. The mix of young and older capped and uncapped brood frames and eggs must have been sufficient for queen raising.

Nothing is guaranteed in queen production in a split. It takes a while for her to be raised, mated and start flying. An introduced queen can be killed by the colony. Here I have the best of both worlds; if the queen takes, time is saved with honey flow on the way. If she isn't accepted no time has been wasted, and there are other colonies close by to mate the queen reared by the split colony.

I was asking Brian about his electric fence setup. After showing me the fence he noted that his other bee yard further out towards Cinnamon Ridge has a much more elaborate configuration due to greater threats from bears in that area, and invited me out for a tour; stay tuned for part II!

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