Adding a super

In a mad dash on Saturday (in the rain & gloveless no less), Wayne and I did a quick switch of the supers on the hive.  We added one empty super with new frames and foundation and placed it directly below the current honey super which was two frames short of being full.

My hope is that in the next few weeks we can grab the full super and try Beekeeper Linda’s crush and strain method of harvesting.  I’ve ordered a small filtering system from Brushy Mountain and some small jars to get us started.  As soon as it arrives, we’re going to give it a shot.

It’s probably a bit early to harvest, but I’m anxious to have our first taste of the lovely honey and to learn a bit about harvesting so we’ll be better prepared for next time.  Plus, the girls currently have some honey stored on the edge frames in the brood area as well as on the burr comb they’ve attached to the bottom of the long frames.   My message: there is no shortage of stored honey so it should not stress the bees and the nectar flow shall continue.  There will be ample opportunity for them to store away more.

In the meantime, here’s our lovely hive:

Other exciting news: It looks like we’re picking up our second colony on the 8th of May.  🙂

Spotlight on the Queen

I visited my dad today and helped him pick through his pictures to see if he had any good shots of the queen and I hit jackpot.  The shadows fell in this first picture just right and it appears to have created a spotlight just to highlight her.   I was a bit worried about her brood pattern, but looking at it now, I believe the empty cells in the middle have either eggs or uncapped brood.

A closeup of the same picture:

Isn’t she just grand?

Inspection #2

Yesterday we completed our second inspection of the hive and managed to remove one of the long brood frames that I’ve been hoping to give back to David.  The inspection overall was quite successful.  We managed to locate the queen and ensure she is beginning to lay in the new frames we installed three weeks ago.  My dad came to take some pictures while we were opening the hive and both he and I managed to get ourselves stung in the process.  I tried my best to work without gloves for the first time and just can’t seem to get over the feeling of them crawling on my fingers.  My body naturally wants to brush them off and (as I learned), the bees aren’t terribly fond of that idea.   Anyway, below is a mix of my pictures and my dad’s pictures.

We started with the top super that we added last time and I was amazed to see that in three weeks they’ve drawn out comb on four of the frames including the one below which was one of the end frames and is full of honey and pollen.

Here’s a close up of the pollen.  I love seeing all the amazing colors they bring in – they are much, much sharper in person.

The next frame over in the super was a foundationless frame that I added to see what they’d do with it.  In my mind, its another clear argument for top bar beekeeping.

In the close up you can see the honey dripping off some of the burr comb that we had to tear in order to move the frame from the super.

We then removed the super and moved on to check out the top of the brood box below the super.  As soon as we removed the honey super I was hopeful that she had started to lay on the new frames that we installed at our last visit.  You can see the three darker frames donated by David that started this hive originally.

We did manage to tear some brood cells while removing the top super which left some larvae exposed.  The good news is that I pulled a few out and saw no evidence of mites.

Here’s one of the two original brood frames.   This was the cleanest frame and I believe the one we added to a nuc box and brought back to David.

Here is the second frame with some serious burr comb.  I removed it on this frame, but the bees didn’t take kindly to it, so I left it on the other.

I didn’t get a shot of the third frame.  It had the queen on it and I frantically tried to get a picture of her but (as always) she moves a bit too fast for me and I end up with just a bunch of fuzzy bees.

On to the exciting part:  the queen has officially started to lay outside of the original frames.  We’ve had her since this past July and this is the first time she’s moved.

You can see more larvae here and I believe there’s also a few drone cells.

Wayne lifted up the brood box for me to insert a new frame with foundation in the box below.  We didn’t get into that bottom box at all to see what, if anything, is happening there and based on this picture, you can see why.  🙂

Overall a great inspection.  The queen is still present and is laying.  The are clearly storing honey even with the challenge of having to draw out the foundation first.  I’m so glad to see them active and healthy.

Based on what we found yesterday, I’m going to start checking the super on top a bit more frequently to ensure they have plenty of room for storage.  I hope our good luck continues.