A pleasant surprise

Lots of updates:

1 – The solar wax melter was a success.  I did run into a problem the second day: my paper towel kept breaking.  The weight of the hot wax was just too much for it.  Luckily Wayne had some fine screen in the garage and we attached that to the container and used it without any issues.  Now I just need to figure out how to clean it so we can reuse it.  I did manage to melt all the brood comb we had collected and ended up with enough wax to make about 50 tubes of lip balm.  Lesson learned from this experience?  Brood comb is mostly crud.  I was amazed by how little wax we got out of it.

2 – Our Nuc box doesn’t look so hot.  We went out this morning to move the nuc box into a proper box (the blue hive).  I was planning on feeding them this week to move things a long a bit; however, there is a very small population in there and the brood pattern is spotty at best.  The queen does not seem to have improved at all since we were last in there.  I’m seriously considering introducing a new queen, otherwise I imagine the small colony will just die out.  I did see not only small hive beetles (ick), but cockroaches as well (double ick) both actually IN the hive which is a sure sign they are not doing well.

3 – Our new hive (the purple one) seems to be doing well.  There is quite a bit of activity in and out of the hive.  Today we cut back the Carolina Jasmine that was creeping in front of them to give them a bit more open space.  We’re going to give them another week or so to get settled and plan to check on them next weekend.

4 – The exciting part: We have a queen in my big hive!!  I’ve been working for about a week to try and get a new queen for my big hive because I really didn’t want to loose my very first colony.  Something about it just bothers me….I know it’s likely to happen eventually, but I’d like to prolong the inevitable if I can.  The past couple days I’d noticed a TON of activity.  It had been raining here for about a week so I couldn’t tell if it was just the lack of rain that brought them out or if something else was going on.  I watched for  a while, and they were definitely foraging.  I told Wayne the hive really, really didn’t look queenless from the outside.  It turns out I was right!  Here’s what we found working from the bottom:

The “brood” box on the very bottom and nothing in it.  Literally.  Undrawn foundation and some empty frames I was hoping they would use for drones.

The second box has one frame of uncapped honey and again, some drawn foundation, mostly undrawn.

The third box had a mix of pollen and honey, but very sparse.

The fourth box (surprise!) was FULL of brood.  There were five brood frames in total.   The first couple frames were a bit spotty and I told Wayne I wasn’t happy with the brood pattern.  His reply?  “One sec, let me show you something.”  We pulled out the last two and they were gorgeous.  She’s laying heavily, and all workers.  She’s not even leaving much room for honey or pollen.

There were a couple strangely shaped cells on the first frame that I’m hoping these are not new queen cells:

These frames were just too beautiful for words….

The fifth box was heavy.  Full of honey.  At this point we were trying to close up quickly because they were rather unhappy with us, but our guess is that there are four to five frames of fully capped honey.

Here’s the hive as we left it.  You can see the bees hanging out at the top of the current brood chamber.

So, although I’m disappointed about the nuc so far, I’m wonderfully excited about the big hive.  Here’s my question for anyone who cares to share their ideas:  Should I rearrange them?  In the current setup, the queen has no more room for brood.  Above her is capped honey.  I have three frames below her that are basically unused.  I’m wondering if I should move the fourth box full of brood down to the proper brood box location and put an empty frame on top of that?  Then put the honey and one additional super?  That would reduce my supers from four to five while still giving the girls more room to work in.  I’m probably going to submit the question to Beesource and see what others think.  Advice is always appreciated.

What a nice surprise for a Sunday! 🙂

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2 Responses

  1. To clean the mesh pour boiled water from the kettle/jub with the mesh on the grass. I do that to clean our mesh things from candle making.

    See ya….Gary

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