Solstice update

It’s crazy to realize that I haven’t updated you on the bees in well over a month. A with any living and breathing thing, so much can happen in so short a time. This is now our third year of beekeeping and I find my style of beekeeping changing. Initially we carefully inspected every frame, took note of every egg and brood frame. Now I see the colony as more of one big whole. I find myself with a more macroscopic view. I look into the hive, it seems to have too may bees and I move some frames.

This  has been the year of splits. We split the strongest hive at the end of April when we did our last post. The spilt is doing well now. It took it a while to brood up. Of course initially they had to raise and queen, then that queen had to mate and then lay and then wait almost 2 weeks for new workers to emerge. As I write that I realize exactly how long that takes. Here is the virgin queen ready for mating 

The middle colony which was so weak remained so for quite a while. I was hoping the durian bees in it were just slow to brood up but they were not getting anywhere (2 frames and end of may!) and we finally purchased a new queen from a bee guy in Windham (Backwoods bee farm).  

Here is the queen installed
That may be my first and only queen purchase as the colony seem to have rejected her.  We saw the new queen in there laying but now a few weeks later they once again have a virgin queen and a whole bunch of superceedure cells.  rob says they were quite strong before he checked the 2 weeks ago, so one thought is they swarmed with our new queen. At any rate, this more firmly cements my goal to not buy any more bees. Not only do they know what’s best for them but queens raised up here may be better over winter anyways.

The strong colony keeps growing and growing. After the spilt they were still going well so we ‘checkerboarded’ them- inserting a frame of foundation into the middle of the brood nest. 

Here is the result

After they kept roaring after that attempt the brood next was split into a new box last Saturday. So now we have 4 hives, as the split is busy raising another queens

W won’t have 4 hives for long. On Friday we are going to the CCBA(Cumberland County Beekeepers Association) over wintering nuts workshop. There we will get two nuc boxes and two northern queens, and (hopefully) the knowledge of how to over winter them. We will then do a through check of all the hives to figure out how best so split the brood. A I mentioned before the beekeeping style and management methods are maturing. Initially I never would have swapped bees and now I am happy to throw a frame from one to another which has resulted in many Frankenstein hives.  What we are still working on is honey production! The hives keep wanting to swarm and what I want them to do is just stay put and make more honey. I tried a homemade swarm trap but so far bees don’t like styrofoam coolers :

 My goal is for 5 shallow supers of honey this fall. That’s one each for the full sized colonies to winter on(pretty sure our colony starved last year as the test for the bee lab came back negative for noseema)