I drew up a map of my beeyard yesterday and wrote a summary for each of my hives to include in my beekeeping journal. I normally don’t post this kind of thing, but it may be of interest (probably not) for anyone curious about how a hobbyist beekeeper with a few too many hives keeps records. I’ve been meaning to keep more accurate and more concise records since I started beekeeping in 2010. Maybe next year.
I currently have nine honey bee colonies in my beeyard, up from more or less two at the beginning of the year. (I had four back in March but only two of them got through the spring in okay shape.) I use a simple numbering system to take track of my queens (not my hives): The first two digits represent the year. The last two digits represent the queen. For example: the first queen of this year is 1601, the second queen is 1602 and so on. In my journal I also use some letters to indicate how the queen was created: through supersedure queen cell, swarm cell, mated queen from another beeyard, etc., but I won’t bother with that here. See my recent Beeyard Update for more details and a video.
1401 — My oldest surviving queen that has a full hive to herself. I thought she was failing but maybe she’s not. She was slow to get going like most of the colonies this summer. Today I moved the 3-deep hive (with a feeder) to it’s current location, which was the old location of the double nuc. So it’s going to lose a lot of bees here, but I think it’ll be fine. It’ll get plenty of sun and it’s still loaded down with nurse bees that aren’t going anywhere.
1402 & 1505 — They’re living in a double nuc box, 4 frames each. 1402 is a queen from an old big mean hive that I recently split into three (and I think the queen is actually from 2012). 1505’s old hive was requeened because she’s a supersedure queen from last year who didn’t seem to have been mated well. Both queens seem to be doing okay in the double nuc box though. It doesn’t get much sun in its current location, but I don’t care. I might move it completely out of the beeyard and bring it close to the house just for fun. It’s not a full hive of bees, so it doesn’t have much potential to get in anyone’s face.
1501 — The only successfully installed mated queen from last year. Started off slow. Gave them 5 frames of brood from 1402 when it was big. Then eventually removed 3 frames of brood when the hive exploded in August or late July and was a swarm risk (I should have just left everything alone). 2 deeps and 3 honey supers. Many of the honey super frames are full of pollen (that’s another story). I don’t see much capped honey yet. Not sure what to think. Plenty of brood hanging off the bottom bars of the bottom box for a several weeks now. Borderline swarmy perhaps but I don’t anticipate that with such a young queen this late in the year. I’m hoping for the best. Experimented with holes in the honey supers, but I’ll talk about that some other time.
1601 — The first nuc I bought this year (July 18th) which was originally in the same position as the double nuc. I noticed it was slow to build up, probably because it was in the shadiest area of the beeyard. So today I moved it to where it is now, and where it is now used to be the location of 1401 which was overflowing with bees. So I’m hoping all the returning foragers from 1401 gave it a boost. Plus it’ll now get plenty of sun. I was feeding it for a while with a hive top feeder but recently stopped because I think I was feeding it too much, the syrup crowding the upper brood nest just a bit too much. It’s a 2-deep hive.
1602 — Another nuc started around July 18th. It’s coming along well. Like all the nucs, it’s benefited from some stolen brood from other hives and a constant supply of drawn comb, no bare foundation. I was feeding it until recently. I may start feeding all the nucs again in a week or two. Two deeps.
1603 — Started from a July 18th nuc. Added second deep after 2nd week, pretty much par for the course. Building up well like the others. All good.
1604 — My one requeened colony for this year. I requeened the 1505 hive to get rid of the old supersedure queen (who’s now living in the double nuc box). Requeened on August 6th. Coming along well enough, I suppose. No feeder at the moment. All my hives except 1501 have had feeders at one point or another this summer.
1605 — A split that was created with 1402 (previously what I called the big mean hive) and installed with a mated queen on August 6th (23 days ago). This hive is in the same location 1402 used to be, so it got all the foragers returning to fill it up quickly, with a large population of drones too. The last time I checked, the marked queen had filled several frames with capped and open brood and was off to the races. Her white dot has been mostly cleaned away. It currently has 3 deeps and is full of bees, though the 3rd deep is mostly empty, old dirty frames that I threw in there for the bees to clean up. I will knock it down to 2 deeps before winter. I stole some frames of brood from this hive recently for another late-season split.
1606 — Currently a 2-deep hive created from the aforementioned split on August 6th. The queen seemed slow to start laying and I’m not even sure how well she’s laying, but she’s alive and I see fresh brood. That’s good enough for now. I fed it for a while but recently stopped because it was getting too full of syrup in the brood nest.
1608 — An extra-late season split started from the aforementioned split on August 6th, but they killed the queen (there is no 1607) because they were in the process of superseding (or swarming). Long story short, I kept finding queen cells, so I destroyed all the open brood before I installed the second mated queen around August 12th or 13th. I can’t find the queen for some reason, but I spotted plenty of fresh brood. Good enough. I recently added a second deep and several frames of open and capped brood from other hives. Hoping for the best.
So that’s it for now. I have 9 hives and 2 nucs — for 11 queens in total. That’s way more than enough. I have very little drawn comb left in reserve. Which isn’t good. So if I lose a hive or two over the winter, I’m fine with that. Never hurts to have extra drawn comb around.
1401, 1603 and 1608 are the only hives with feeders at the moment. I need to reassess and make sure I’m not blocking them up with too much syrup.
1606, one of the split hives, seems a bit off, but again it could just be a lull in the brood cycle as it probably took the installed mated queen a week or two to get back up to speed. And I’m not sure what will happen with 1608. It looks like they’ve accepted their second mated queen. Open brood, etc., but I can’t seem to spot the queen and I’ve noticed they were creating queen cups, possibly the beginnings of supersedure cells, a few days ago. Are they preparing to oust their new queen? Is that what they did with the first queen? I guess I’ll find out. But overall I think everything is in pretty good shape. I’d love to see the bees with enough honey to get through the winter on their own so I don’t have to feed them sugar over the winter. My goal for next summer is still to harvest honey from only half the hives and let the other half make enough honey in deep frames for themselves and all the other colonies too, so I never have to feed sugar to my bees ever again. That’s the dream.