OUCH! That Stings

100_4050So today its 90 degrees and I’m outside to take a glance at my hives. It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve had look inside any of them, but the weather is just to dang hot to suit up and inspect the hives. Or so I thought.

When I looked at the hives today one of them looked like it was swarming, or at least doing something approaching swarming, so off I went to don my bee suit.

Imagine my surprise when I found the hive completely full! It’s the hive of Italians that has lagged a bit and since the weather has been cool and rainy I didn’t think they would be making much progress. Man was I wrong.

With the sweat pouring from face and dripping into the veil I found that every frame but two in the bottom, on an outside edge, were full of bees and comb. The hive was out of room. This is when they swarm so in an effort to keep them from swarming I grabbed another super to add to the hive, but did more than just stack it on top. I first went into the bottom box and pulled some frames of brood and honey to move up into the second box. I replaced these frames with empty frames, thereby creating more space in the brood box to keep those nurse bees busy and the queen laying.

Next, I pulled four frames of honey from the second box and moved them up into the third box. (Honey for me). This created more space in the second box. Now the hive has lots of room inside, PLUS another box on top.

While making all the changes the bees were very mellow but also wanting to swarm in balls around the cover, the side of the hive and on frames I had pulled and set aside. It all seemed very strange and I was a little concerned they would still swarm.

What in the dickens was going on? I don’t really know. Could be a “Phyllis” kind of hive (she has the hive I got the split from earlier in the season that was so full of bees they couldn’t all get in), or maybe they were completing a supercedure and the new queen had just returned to the hive. I can only speculate as I don’t really know.

Though sweating through everything I decided that as long as I was already in the sauna I would take a quick look at the other hives. Same deal. Huge progress in most hives over the last couple weeks. I ended up adding a new super to the “split hive” and also the second carney hive. The first carney hive and re-queened hive will need another box in another week or so.

All of them made incredible progress while the weather was crappy.

Now for the “survivor” hive, the one that made it through the winter. They are getting plum mean. Their sister hive that died out last year did the same thing. Sometimes this can mean they are stressed, so it’s possible mites are the problem.

When I pulled the cover from the hive they were mellow enough but they have done zero work in the top box (of which there are three) so I needed to have a look into the second box. The second and third boxes were so glued together with ladder comb I really struggled to separate them. This pissed the bees off quite severely and since my legs were at the height of the second box on the hive that is what they attacked. Stung me right through my jeans about a dozen times. Guess that makes up for not getting stung at all over the last couple seasons.

So this hive needs to be watched. Last year its sister hive suffered from deformed wing syndrome (dws) and died before winter even arrived. I have not observed DWS in this hive and hope it doesn’t come to that because you can pretty much write off the hive if they do get it. DWS is a result of mites overloading the hive.

So its a watch and wait game for this hive. If they get DWS I will rob the hive of its honey this fall and let them die because they most likely will anyway. If they don’t show signs of DWS I might take a little extra honey from them and if they die then tough, I hate bees you cannot work with. If they winter, then next spring I will requeen this hive in hopes of calming them down. Only time will tell.

Stay cool, stay in touch and if you want a great summer read, pick up a copy of Truth’s Blood, you wont be disappointed.

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