Friday, August 13, 2010

Inspection on W1

W1 was inspected, equipped with a better sump (from W5) and moved a few yards because it was too close to the electric fence. Only the top hive body is filled, and there is some weight in it. This is a small colony tugging along, and if the end of the season is good, they may make it. They would need to fill a second hive body for that. I will probably feed them at some point. Here too, the quilt was filled with ants, like with W2, so it was removed. The colony was on 3 hive bodies, I removed one. I have some hope for this colony, but there obviously will be no harvest.
Tomorrow is harvest time for W2, and inspection on K1-W3. K1 will get its roof and quilt back, since it was borrowed for W5.
Sunday, I will inspect L1, L2 and W4, and I may harvest some honey too.

W5 is dead

W5 hive is dead. This was a big swarm cough around July 18 in a gas station in Bothell. We suspect someone in the neighborhood is making repetitive use of pesticides. I learned in horticulture class that homeowners are a big source of pollution in urban areas (particularly water pollution), due to yard care products. There are quite a few nasty products on sale at big box stores. These products should never be used on preventive routine applications, but only on curative applications, once a pest problem has been identified, otherwise the product may do more harm than good.
The bee colony dwindled until all bees were gone. Another sad loss, this was a strong swarm. I will pick up the hive tonight, as I need some material this week end for harvest and winter preparation.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hive Design: Escape Board

Today, I checked W2 sump and saw that the combs are now reaching the screen bottom board. I am going to harvest on Saturday, so now is a good time to put an escape board, and add an empty hive body at the bottom. I immediately got to work on building an escape board, since it was already ~ 6pm. About an hour later, I had my first escape board built. I set it next to W2 hive, on top of an empty hive body. Here is the bottom view:

And here the top view:

W2 suffers from ant infestation, so the quilt was removed yesterday. Here is how the hive looked like just before I opened it:

Here, the escape board is set in place, just before I set the top body full of honey to be harvested, and the roof:

The harvest will be two days from now. We will see how well the escape board performs.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sump design

Here are pictures of the sump, or base, of my hives. First picture is the base with the 1/2" hardware cloth acting as a mouse guard:

Here is a picture of the base upside down, showing how the 1/2" hardware cloth is stapled to the wood:

View of the inside, with the back door removed:

Backdoor in place:

The screen bottom board, essential part of IPM:

How the screen bottom board fits in the base. Hopefully I left enough gap for the particle wood to expand. Plywood would be a better choice. The hardware cloth should be 1/8th", but I could only find 1/4", so I used two 1/4TH inter-spaced.

View from the top. Notice the landing board is shorter, so as to not obstruct the mesh. I am now thinking the landing board should not extend inside, to avoid giving a chance to varroa mites to grab a passing bee.

Last view from the back, with the screen bottom board and the sticky board in place. The sticky board is just a piece of plywood to collect fallen varroa mites. It will be painted white, and a grid drawn on it to facillitate counting the varroas. Oil will be spread over it to make the mites stick and die. The sticky board is not staying in the sump, it is set a few days at a time, to monitor varroas. In normal operations, only the screen bottom board is in place.

This design still has a flaw: the combs in the lower box can extend inside the sump. To correct this flaw, my next sump will have a screen bottom board that mounts flush with the top of the base.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Inspection of W2, new sump

Today, W2 got a new sump with a mouse guard, a screen bottom board, and a sticky board for monitoring varroa. W2 needed to be inspected since a comb broke and fell to the bottom of the hive during the last inspection.
W2 is doing good, with the top body full of honey, and the second body full of brood and honey. The broken comb was replaced. The comb was laying at the bottom, partly laying on the landing board
W2 is the first hive to get the new sump. Pictures of the design will be posted tomorrow. The next hive to receive the new sump will be W5, because the bees decided to start building on the lower body, and one comb is now extending in the sump. That comb will have to be cut.