2018 Apiary Season notes - Southwest Missouri

After having issues with the Shire queens getting mated last year, we ordered an Italian and two Carniolan queens from Honey Hive Farms to introduce some new genetics, they should arrive in April.

SCE - Small Colony Experiment
SHV - Shire Hives
GHV - Garden Hives

Jan 1 - This was our first attempt to winter over a small colony, by placing it over a full sized hive with heat venting into the NUC. Tempatures have gotten down to -2 degrees and it was losing more bees that it could sustain. The right photo is a thermal picture showing heat venting from the NUC thru the robbing/moving screen. This stacked configuration seems to work until it got down into the teens. We brought it inside late in December and reconfigured it for indoors.

Jan 10 - It's the first warm day in quite a while, and all the hives are still alive and out flying today with it around 60 degrees.

   This is our current configuration for the Small Colony Experiment. It has a 12x12 screened cover on the front to allow them to clean out the hive and relieve themselves. A wet sponge on the screen gives them water and a top feeder hole is to the right. The room stays between 50-70 degrees and a small radiant heater is placed nearby.

   SCE - I did have the opportunity to look inside and didn't find a lot of bees, but did find approximately a 4 inch diameter cluster of capped brood near the far wall of the NUC near the radiant heater. I'm maintaining approximately 95 degrees on the NUC wall where the capped brood is. It should be easier for them to cool the brood area vs having to heat it. They had capped honey stores, so I'm feeding them small pieces of Pro-Patties in the top feeder hole.

  SCE - One observation I have seen with this hive, is that these current worker bees are somewhat larger, nearer drone size. Dead summer bees from the floor are noticeably smaller. I'm assuming these larger bees, are workers with winter fat stores. The current capped brood should hatch around the 21st. Since I'm creating a spring like enviroment now, it will be interesting to see if this batch is normal sized summer bees.

Jan 21 - SCE - Observed a change in bee types, some are smaller, more like the worker size I normally see, and some of the coloration of some the adomens has changed either to a darker color or entirely black, coloration I nornally see in my hives in the summer. Debris on the bottom board indicates more activiity on the frame where the capped brood was observed 10 days ago.

SHV - All hives are alive and placed 1/3 pollen patties in all hives. Replaced sugar blocks as needed. Far north hive has a lot of bees in the top and I placed a deep on it to give them some room.

Jan 24 - SCE - Bottom board has all the signs of hatching bees. Finding chewed cappings and clear wax platelets along the outside frame and some on the adjacent frame. it's still too cold outside to take them out and do an inspection, so I'm relying on external observations and weight of the hive - 26.4# today.

Jan 28 - SCE - It's difficult to tell exactly what the population is doing, so I built a glass top cover to be able to see inside. Fortunately it was warm enough to take them outside and change the covers out and clean out the flight cage.

  SCE - What is suprising is the attrition rate of bees even in the controlled enviroment. It is sustainable with the hatching that began a few days ago. I did find one bee that was within days or hours of hatching, the wings were not developed and workers removed it, which is a desirable hygienic behavior. More inportantly, that does indicate a laying queen, which is good with these small numbers.

Jan 31 - SCE - 60's outside and took them outside to let them fly. Added a frame of pollen and removed a frame of old wax they were not using. Re-weighted at 27.2#

Feb 9 - SHV - Checked all of the hives and all are still alive. SHB on the other hand are all dead on the bottom boards. Haven't seen a live SHB in a while, something to be said for all these cold snaps we have been having.

Feb 14 - SCE - I saw a small wax moth in the hive and it was warm enough to take them outside and open them up. Killed the wax moth and another larve. Removed one frame because it's too much room for them to manage with their low numbers. Rearranged the frames so the queen is now in the center of the hive, she has been between the outside frame and the outside wall. All the previous capped brood has hatched and a few are still capped. Looks like she has quit laying for now. Saw a few of these bees bringing in a light yellow pollen, probably from the maple in the yard.

Feb 15 - SCE - 70+ degrees today and took the SCE outside. They brought in a lot of light yellow pollen most of the day and a mid gray colored pollen latter in the afternoon. They don't seem to like to take sugar syrup or honey from the feeder jar, so I cut up a plastic lid about 3/16" deep for a feeder trough. They do use it quite readily when filled with honey but it just needs to refilled alot even with their small numbers.

Feb 17 - GHV - 43 degrees and they were out flying and collecting water. Found a SHB between the inner and top cover being chased by the bees. Apparently a few have survived the cold snaps.

Feb 24 - Maples are putting out pollen and henbit is starting to grow. Still below freezing at night and lots of rain. Bees are out during the day somewhat.

Mar 9 - SHV - All hives are alive and treated with OAV.

Mar 11 - Inspected the SCE and found some capped brood and larvae, but not much. Queen is still alive, active, and started piping when we had the frame she was on out. They have been pulling in lots of pollen and honey stores was more than sufficent. They don't seem to like the pollen frame I placed in the hive sometime back.

Mar 20 - SHV - Found no significant mite drop from the OAV, bees were building in three of the candy boards, all candy boards removed and put supers on three hives that appeared to be bringing in nectar. Deadnettle is blooming. Got stung on the lip thru my veil, that hurts. 49 degrees and sunny, and the bees are really testy today.

Apr 19 - SCE - Found the queen outside and dead. She has not been laying for several weeks so I assuming she has finally died from old age. Since they are unable to requeen due the absence of fresh eggs, I have recovered the equipment and placed it in storage. It appears those bees have since moved into a swarm trap I have out.

Apr 23 - SHV - Lots of traffic on three hives and made walk away splits to prevent swarming. Found lots of drones inside the hives.

My web hosting provider sold out to another company and pretty much hosed up my site and I am unable to provide regular updates at this time.

Aug 16 - Summary of the last 90 days - In mid June I harvested 370# of honey and returned a single honey super to each hive. Since that time, a dearth has occurred due to the dry conditions and it's highly unlikely that there will be a fall harvest. I lost one of the weaker hives in July and the remaining hives seem to be surviving and beginning to forage again, most probably goldenrod that has been blooming for the last few weeks. Some rain has been falling the last couple weeks but it's probably too late in the season to make a difference. Getting the bees thru winter is the issue at hand.

In mid June I purchased three queens, one Italian and two Carniolas. All are alive at this time. The Itailan has done well and filling two deeps despite the dearth without feeding. The Carni's haven't expanded much at all and I have begin feeding for the last month.

Oct 14 - Shot the hives at home with OAV and got a larger than expected mite drop. Did a second treatment a week later and still had a larger than expected mite drop. Shot the Shire hives yesterday and will check them in the next few days. Did a cursory inspection of the shire hives and found supers I was going to leave on for winter not in that great of shape. Probably going to have to remove them and begin feeding.

Dec 8 - Looking back on the year, the hives did well during the spring but I got no usable honey in the fall. Seems most folks had the same issue. Been feeding sugar but think I might have more than normal losses this winter.

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2014 Season notes
2015 Season notes
2016 Season notes
2017 Season notes