4 Little Hives All in a Row

March 2019 Introduction: This is a boring post that probably won’t have much appeal to a general reader, but it does go into some fine details that might be interesting for people who want to compare notes with another beekeeper (me). It’s eight years later and today I’m intrigued by the results I had with my bees at the time. I didn’t just leave my bees alone and let them sort out their troubles. I was always messing with my bees, probably more than I should have, but I have to admit that I created an excellent classroom for myself.

Here’s a short uneventful video I took of the hives today where I mistakenly refer to Hive #2 as Hive #1. (I need to paint numbers on the damn things.)

And now here’s a quick review of the 4 hives in my backyard as they stand today:

Hive #4: It’s a little over three months old, raised from a bare minimum 4-frame nuc on July 10th (1 frame of brood, 1 frame of honey, 1 frame of pollen, 1 empty frame). I fed it thick syrup and pollen patties (both spiked anise extract) all summer long. I didn’t try to harvest any honey, although I did have to pull one full frame sometime in August to prevent the queen from becoming honey bound. Hive #4 has a ventilation rim installed and it had a screened inner cover for part of the summer. The last time I checked about a month ago, it was heavy with honey and overflowing with bees. I’m currently feeding it a full frame of honey over the inner cover. All the cappings are scraped off so the bees will attack the honey in a hurry. The front entrance has been reduced on Hive #4, and on all my hives, for the past month because the wasps have been wicked.

Hive #3: It was started from a nuc the same time as Hive #4 and was fed the same syrup and pollen. I also pulled a frame of honey in August to prevent the queen from becoming honey bound. The only difference is that Hive #3 has 18 frames in the brood chamber instead of 20 because I installed dummy boards (or follower boards) to reduce congestion, improve ventilation and provide extra insulation over the winter. It was also heavy with honey the last time I checked and it’s packed with bees, more so than Hive #4. I’m currently feeding it syrup through an inverted jar feeder over the inner cover and have been for the past few weeks. I stopped feeding Hives #3 and #4 near the end of August for a couple weeks because they had so much honey in them, I didn’t want the queens to become honey bound.

Hive #2: A 100% foundationless hive that didn’t produce much honey this year (two or three medium frames). It’s 457 days old and it’s the home of the drones. It had a screened bottom board and a screened inner cover for part of the summer. Like all my hives, it has a ventilation rim installed over the inner cover. It doesn’t have a high population of bees. It currently has a hive top feeder on it that’s been there for the last week or so. I also fed the bees several pounds of honey from partially capped frames that we didn’t bother to harvest.

Hive #1: It’s also 457 days old. It began the year as a 50% foundationless hive along with Hive #1. All the foundationless frames were replaced with the conventional frames from Hive #1 sometime in June. Hence, Hive #1 is 100% foundationless, full of drones and a low honey producer; Hive #2 is a conventional hive with more foragers. It produced about 40 pounds of honey, which is impressive considering that we had a cold, wet and short summer. Hive #2 had a screened inner cover for most of the summer, though it doesn’t anymore. I also requeened it around mid-July. It still has a ventilation rim installed. I fed Hive #1 about 10 pounds of honey in the past month through partially capped frames installed over the inner cover. I might have to top it up with some syrup over the next couple weeks before I wrap the hives for winter.

I plan to feed all of my hives either syrup or more honey until they can’t take it anymore. I’ll probably wrap them for winter sometime before November.