Screen Bottom Board

We are having a cold snap this week. After some nice bee flying weather we expect temperatures in the 30’s and 40’s this week. The bee’s prefer above 50 F to fly, although I’ve seen some bees flying in temperatures as low as 45 F (7 C). The danger for this time of year is that the bees are ramping up for spring with lots of brood and new bees emerging every day. The hive can be overwhelmed with young adult bees, and if there isn’t enough nectar coming in, the hive can parish during a cold or rainy period.

As a result, every beekeeper gets a little nervous this time of year. If the queen has laid too many eggs and there isn’t enough nectar stored, they can be in real trouble. This is why many beekeepers feed sugar patties in the spring. It is too cold for sugar syrup, but a block of sugar or fondant on top of the hive can provide that extra food the hive needs on colder days.

There are couple ways to check your hives. Some use internal sensors or thermal cameras to find the cluster. You can also listening for their buzzing with your ear against the side. A simple method I use on some hives is a screened bottom board.

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Drops of Jupiter in her hive

Jupiter has had an eventful season; our hive, not the planet. I did a rushed split on April 11 to create the hive now called Ganymede. When Jupiter swarmed anyways on April 25, I caught the swarm to create what has become our new top bar hive Saturn. Ganymede did so well I split her again to share a nuc with a friend. After all this, I was worried that Jupiter might not have a queen, only to find larva and brood about four weeks later (meaning a queen was present).

So it seems a report on the progress of Jupiter and her satellites, so to speak, is in order.

160617 Apiary

The hives before inspection on June 17. The smoker is lit and ready to go.

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You may bee right

Now that winter is fast approaching, I finally checked for varroa mites in my hives. I should have done this over the summer, even once a month starting in May or June. Then I would have some good numbers for how my hives fared over the course of the year. Alas, tis not the case.

Venus

Our top bar hive Venus on October 4, 2015

Between vacations and family and work this summer, it seemed like I was only home long enough to catch my breath and do quick inspections of the hives. So one day I realized it was the end of August and I’d done no more than think about┬áthe possible mites in our hives. Continue reading