5 January 2018 Hive Inspections

No one likes having their house opened and their nursery invaded.  Especially no one likes it in the lean season, when losing any of your resources could be disastrous for your whole family.  That said, Hive #4 literally could not give a crap.  They’ve got food, they’ve got pollen, they’ve got lots of happy larvae.  They’re cool.

Everybody else seemed a bit jumpy once I got down into the brood.  Who can blame them, really?  When times are hard and everybody’s feeling worried, it isn’t fair to judge the temperament of the hive on how easy they spook on a single inspection.  Instead, I try to look at other signs to see how things might pan out.  The most reliable one I have been taught is that European honey bees don’t feel the need to bail from the middle of the frame when you’re looking at them.  Africanized bees head for the hills the moment you pick up the frame.  I didn’t see any of that, today.  Another one is that European bees tend to lay in the middle of the frame and then stock resources around the edges, both honey and pollen, if they can.  I did see that in all the hives.  Africanized bees will evidently lay from end to end.  European honey bees might be irritated with you, but they won’t follow you forever.  These bees went with me as far as the chicken coop, and then lost interest.  They were already calmed by the time I went back with their food.

All of those are good signs.

I did a full inspection on Hive 6 today.  They’re the hive nobody’s ever seen the queen in.  That didn’t change.  These bees have started to store honey in their third box.  Their second box is full of it.  They were starting to run out of room in their bottom box.  Since they’re all mediums, it’s easy to move around frames, so I moved a frame of honey up from their bottom box and gave them a frame they’d drawn out, but not put a bunch of honey in, yet, in case they want room for more brood.  They have so much gorgeous, healthy brood.   That hive population is huge compared to the neighbors.  They seem vigorous, healthy, and insanely productive.  They did get alarmed as I went into the brood frames, but it’s hard to blame anybody for that.  They seemed much calmer just a few minutes later.

The Poway Hive had ants!  It was a recent development and no harm was done.  As a result, EVERYBODY got a fresh coat of tanglefoot on the hive stand legs.  They were really calm for a hive under attack, but I didn’t get down into their bottom box.  They still have some free room in their top box, so I decided they’d had enough drama for the day.  There were no more ants visible on the box when I was done.

Hive #3 got their top box back today.  They’re almost out of room, which is impressive for having been so low on stores when last I looked.  They have pollen and honey, both, although I continue to worry about their pollen stores just a bit.  There’s plenty of rosemary nearby, though, and the bees are working it vigorously, so I’m holding off on pollen patty for now.  They have nice brood in a nice pattern and so long as I keep feeding, I think they’ll be fine.

I didn’t fully inspect #5.  Just peeked to see that they’re okay.  They’re fine, plenty of pollen and brood and some honey.  They’ll be fine so long as we keep feeding.

The Rancho Santa Fe Hive still hasn’t been fully reordered since their arrival.  Rubber bands in the box and comb in some disarray.  They do have brood and eggs.  I only inspected one brood frame and checked to make sure they had honey around the edges.  They have plenty of room in this one box, still, so I left them to their own devices.

All but Poway Hive and Hive #4 get a quart of sugar water every day or so.  Those two hives just don’t care for it all that much, nor do they particularly need it.  I’ll go on to provide it as necessary, but I left the Poway Hive empty of extra sugar water today, so as to not give the ants anything to get into.  Once any of the straggling ants in the hive have been dealt with, I’ll put another jar on.  Should be a day or two.

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