Bee checkup, July

I went and checked on the bee rescue colony (Ceylon) today – it was as bad as I feared. None of the brood or eggs that we had carefully framed up, were alive… well maybe they weren’t all dead. There were two solitary queen cells that were new; that was the only activity in the whole hive. The colony had zero honey and zero brood.

Thanks to Ayse for the reminder that I could take brood from another colony; Darjeeling was going absolutely gangbusters so I felt no qualms about stealing two full frames of brood in all stages of development and two full frames of capped honey from her. Given live eggs & brood, hopefully Ceylon will be able to create a new queen and have enough workers left to tend her as well. They seem to have made themselves at home in that box, so I hope they will quickly find the new frames of brood and start tending them.

I also switched their feeder from a 1:1 sugar solution to pure honey. It’s not the nice raw honey I cold filtered, but instead the darker honey that separated from the beeswax when I melted it – I have been using it for cooking. I don’t know if giving them honey is recommended, but it seems to me that it can’t hurt and it will make things easier on them in the short term. I hope the fact that it had been melted once doesn’t hurt anything, I’ve heard it’s supposed to change the chemical nature of honey?

The other two hives had supers taken off. Darjeeling is still using one of hers so I left one, but Lady Grey is looking anemic as usual (though there are eggs etc. so the queen is still doing something in there) so I took off all her supers as she needs to work more on colonizing her top deep box. (If you leave too much space in a hive, the population of bees is too small to police it correctly and things like wax moths can move in and destroy everything.)

Wish I could have taken pictures, but the camera battery was dead! (And now if you’ll excuse me, after two hours in double-layered long sleeves & pants moving heavy things in the 100 degree heat, I’m going to go dip myself in the pool!)

7 Responses to “Bee checkup, July”

  1. Ayse Says:

    I generally never feed honey in any form to bees — too easy to spread diseases, and a hive that is weak may not be able to fend off foulbrood, for example. The only exception is letting them clean off wax after harvesting honey.

    Anyway, you’re at the best time of year to give Ceylon the best chance of surviving, since July is a great time to do splits. Check up on them in a bit to make sure they’re making queen cells; sometimes it takes them a while to catch on that they are queenless, though given what they’ve been through that might not take as long as when you requeen a healthy hive.

  2. Diana Guillermo Says:

    Thanks Ayse! I will feed them sugar syrup as soon as they empty out this jar of honey (which they really don’t seem to get the hang of, it’s taking them forEVER!) I hope I’m not spreading disease as this honey was essentially “cooked” or at least kept hot enough to melt wax for a couple hours. But you’ve warned me off giving them my raw honey, so thanks. I’ve never done a split… I hadn’t thought of this colony that way, but they’re certainly a small enough group. Any more advice you have, I’d love to hear! Their population seems to be dwindling and I’m so worried… I will check on them Saturday.

  3. sam Says:

    I really enjoy your blog. I learn things! It makes me want to go do new stuff. Thank you.

  4. Diana Guillermo Says:

    Aw, thank you! I find your blog pretty hilarious. You’re a good writer. 😀

  5. Ayse Says:

    For a split I like to take two frames of brood and two or three frames of honey (depends on the size boxes I’m running) and put them in a nuc or a box that has been reduced in size with a filler. In the old days I’d also give them a few frames of drawn wax, but I’m not saving drawn wax in any quantity any more.

    You have to feed them (sometimes when a flow is on they will not want to take the feed, so pay attention to that but don’t worry too much if all your hives are storing up honey right now) and keep the sugar water coming. Pay attention to the bees coming into the hive: are they full of pollen? If they are not something is wrong; either there is no pollen available (seems unlikely at this time of year) or they are not raising brood for some reason.

    Check to see if they’re making queen cells. Then give them time. The population will dwindle before it will swell again. With luck that extra brood will start hatching out, the queen will get mated and start laying, and in a month or so you will have a hive rebounding.

  6. Heidi Says:

    so sad you are having trouble with this one, but it seems you are on the right track to recovery (from reading all the helpful comments). Good luck.

  7. Diana Guillermo Says:

    Aw, you are all so nice! I already have several made & photographed that I could put up as examples. The question is, would people pay enough for them to make it worth my time? I guess it can’t hurt to try!

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