Monday, September 28, 2009

Entrance Reduction, Yellow Jackets

Entrance reduced to ~ 25%, due to repeated assaults from Yellow Jackets (YJ). With the previous reduction, a few YJ were able to enter the hive. With this reduction, I haven't seen any entering, even though I counted 5-6 YJ near the entrance, repeatedly trying to enter.

Entrance reduction:

Busy entrance in the middle of the afternoon:

A YJ trying to enter the hive:

Two YJ waiting for an opportunity:

I spotted a YJ nest in my yard (in an old tire) which I destroyed. YJ are good for the garden (preying on pests), but they have been too aggressive to the bees lately.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

New management method for comb honey

The Warre management method is not suited for comb honey, because the combs are darkened from been used for brood prior to honey stores. To get marketable comb honey, a honey super must be used.

The hive will spend the winter in 4 medium hive bodies, one honey store, one mix honey store and brood, one brood, and an empty body as the sump.
When the honey flow starts, a shallow super will be added at the top.
Inspections will consist of examining the bottom of the sup, from below, to detect the presence on combs. If combs are present, then the hive will be opened to inspect the top hive bodies. The supers filled with honey will be removed, and an empty hive body will be added at the bottom of the hive. If the colony is strong and the honey flow is good, a second shallow super may be added at the top for more comb honey production.

The season will be ended with 4 hive bodies, one for stores, one mix store/brood, one brood and one empty. This is the standard configuration for winter.

I haven't determined yet if the use of hollow frames at the edge (#1 and 10) is useful, since the addition of a shallow super will deal with swarming due to strong honey flow.

Friday, September 25, 2009

2009 inspection schedule

Here are the inspections and important actions done during 2009.

04-20-2009 Colony hived on 2 mediums
05-07-2009 First inspection, 2 mediums added, total 4
05-17-2009 Second inspection
05-22-2009 End of sugar feeding
05-29-2009 Third inspection
06-13-2009 Fourth inspection
06-28-2009 Fifth inspection, 1 medium added, total 5
07-30-2009 Sixth inspection
08-04-2009 Seventh inspection
08-13-2009 Entrance reduction to 40%
09-18-2004 Eight inspection, Harvest of 2 frames
09-25-2009 Entrance reduction to 25%

There is too much intrusion in the hive, due to my inexperience. I hope to have less than five inspections during next year, unless the hive has some serious problem. I will also try a modified management plan, with the addition of one shallow super, in order to collect honey in clean wax for market. The shallow super will have thin foundations, and the honey will be packaged as comb honey. More details on this later.

Falls inspection

Falls inspection happen a week ago, Friday 18th. 2 frames were removed from the top box, first and last frames, which were replaced by hollow frames. The top body is very heavy, the second body is lighter but does contain honey, the third body is light, likely filled with brood mostly. The picture below shows the top body, with the cloth partially removed.

The two frames removed were partially operculated, as we can see in the pic below.

The colony is still filling 3 boxes only, the two frames added in the fourth box were unchanged since last inspection.
After the inspection, we tasted the honey. I was surprised to see the different colors of honey within the same frame. The color was from clear translucent to opaque black.

The honey is delicious. I also collected some propolis from the top of the frames.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

During these past 3 weeks, I have been very busy on another project (a hen house, maybe a Wallace Chicks blog coming soon), so I only checked the entrance, no hive inspection. I noticed a few drones, always just one at a time. They have not all been killed, there are a few survivors, ... for a while.
I killed a bald face hornet near the hive entrance. Yellow jackets are marauding around the hive, some are eating dead drone bodies.
A lot of pollen coming in during these 3 weeks, thanks to the few rainfalls we got. The smell around the hive is delicious. No more foul odor, I guess the goldenrod bloom is over.
The hen house will be right next to the hive, and will block the early morning sun (bad) and shelter the hive from dominant winds (good).
I may do one final inspection depending on weather, and remove a few honey frames if the hive has more than 3 bodies.
I will soon plan on my next apiary, a 4 hive equipped with Warres, probably with Carniolan bees. They will be on a friend's property, on 5 acres, near a mountain creek. The apiary will need a bear fence.