Six-ish Hives (An Update)

I used a digital recorder to record notes during our last inspection. A very helpful way to take notes because I would have forgotten or confused most of it otherwise, and the notes wouldn’t have been as detailed.

For those who are curious, we have potentially 6 hives on the go now, each of them with their own specific history and a unique set of challenges for us. Here’s a brief summary:
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Video of a Hived Swarm

One of our honey bee colonies swarmed into a tree last week. We caught it and put it in a new hive with a small frame feeder and three frames of empty drawn comb so the queen could start laying right away. We checked on it yesterday and here’s a video that shows what we found (it’s doing well):

It’s not the greatest video, but it shows how things are working out for us since we moved the hives from our backyard to a place in the country. I won’t say exactly where we moved the hives, but anyone familiar with farms around St. John’s probably won’t have a hard time guessing correctly.

A couple notes about the video: 1) I got lazy with making my improvised ventilated inner covers. I came up with an equally effective but much easier to make version of the same thing at the 3:19 mark in the video. We haven’t tested it much yet, but I’ll write up a more detailed post for it later if it works. 2) The hived swarm probably doesn’t need two deeps just yet (and probably doesn’t need the extra ventilation), but swarms are known for building up fast. We gave them the extra hive box in case we can’t make it out next week. We’ll keep feeding the hive now just like we would with a nuc.

Continued on with Queen in a Hived Swarm.

A Destroyed Swarm Cell

We added a frame of brood with a swarm cell on it to a split hive last week that we thought was queenless. Turns out it wasn’t queenless, because by the looks of it, the queen inside the swarm cell was destroyed — stung to death by a queen that was already in the hive, then pulled dead from the swarm cell by worker bees. If a queen had emerged from the swarm cell, the cell would be open on the bottom, not the side. The hive had several frames of freshly capped brood when we checked it yesterday. I don’t think a week old queen could mate and begin laying that fast. Thus ends my interpretation of the above photo. I could be wrong.

Jell-O Royale

We inadvertently took a half decent photo of royal jelly during our hive inspections yesterday. Click the photo for a close up view that shows the larvae floating in the royal jelly.

Royal jelly is a white, gooey secretion that’s fed to all honey bee larvae for their first three days. Larvae intended to become queens are given a gigantic dose of royal jelly that more or less keeps them going for the duration of their development.
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Hiving a Swarm

Our hives in their new rural location, about 16km (or 10 miles) from our house in the city.

The first inspection of our hives in their new location was great. It was so much more relaxed knowing we could take our time and not worry about nosey neighbours. We’ll only be able to see the bees once every week or two, but the change of scene is worth the temporary inconvenience (until we get our own vehicle). It feels like a whole new world of beekeeping. All the hives seemed to be humming when we arrived around 1:00pm. I’ll write a summary of our inspections in the comments for this post. But in a nutshell, our hives aren’t in perfect shape, but we feel more comfortable dealing with whatever comes our way now that we don’t have suspicious neighbours close by making us feel hurried.

Here’s a slideshow that shows how we hived our swarm just before we left:
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Our Best Day of Beekeeping So Far…
and We Caught a Swarm

Day 700: We checked on our hives at their new home in the country today and we love it. We even captured a swarm and had a great time.

I normally avoid posting photos of myself, but my face is obscured in this one and I sort of look like a biker with a handlebar moustache, a fat head and no neck. That doesn’t look anything like me. Anyway, that’s about half the swarm I’m holding. It was big. It was thick. And the bees were so calm, we were able to cut the branch off the tree, not exactly in a delicate manner, and they didn’t budge from their cluster. It was a text book swarm cluster.
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Swarm Cells

Here are two swarm cells, two of a dozen or so that we found in one of our hives about five days ago.

The swarm cells were found at the bottom edge of the frames in the top box of the hive. We found a similar scene in another hive a day later and took some swarm prevention measures that I’ll describe in detail as soon as I have the time. Many momentous events have occurred. Changes are on the way.

31°C / 88°F. In Newfoundland!

3:13pm. May 22, 2012. St. John’s, Newfoundland. Temperature: 31°C. Check it out:

I had to post the photo because otherwise no one would ever believe me.

Updates: It went up to 31.1°C while I was writing this. 3:56pm update: 31.6°C. 4:25pm update: 31.9°C. 6:40pm update: It’s 25°C. The digital thermometer may have reached 32°C around 5 o’clock, but I was too busy painting hive boxes too check. The bees were out in full force from 10am to just about now. I added ventilation rims to all the hives and what passes for a screened inner cover to Hive #1, our three-deep hive that’s literally busting through the roof with bees. Today was a good day to be a honey bee in St. John’s.

Epinephrine for Beekeepers

I picked up two shots of Epinephrine today in case I, or someone near our honey bees, has an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting. I don’t want anyone dying on my watch.

It’s called an EpiPen. Basically it’s a shot of adrenalin. Remember Uma Thurman’s shot to the heart in Pulp Fiction? Not exactly the same thing, but close enough. It’s for emergencies.

I had to get a prescription for the EpiPen from my family doctor. I explained that I keep bees in my backyard and I’d like to have Epinephrine on hand just to be safe. My doctor asked me if I had any known allergies. I said no. She checked my medical file and wrote me the prescription.
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