Sunday, April 27, 2014

Beeladee: Spring Inspection

We had a rather cold winter....for south Texas! Temperatures dropped below freezing many times, even down into the teens. The big difference about a Texas winter is the variance in temperature. Going from the low 30s to the lower 70s in one day is quite common. During these interspersed warm days, I fed my bees 1-to-1 sugar syrup (by volume). I know there are two camps concerning feeding bees; 1. only the fittest need survive thus strengthening the gene pool 2. we will do whatever it takes to keep these bees alive! Because of my weak start with this hive last year (Beeladee: Bee Problems) , I opted for #2.

I was late with my initial hive inspection (the end of March) because of the continued weather fluctuations. By the time I opened the hive, it was quite crowded. I inserted a couple of empty bars, being careful not to break up the brood chamber. Sure enough we had a few more freezes before spring was here to stay.

During that first inspection I noticed a queen cell. This would have been a perfect opportunity for a split, but I had no empty hive in which to move the bar with the developing queen. I had to decide if I wanted let nature take its course and allow a swarm, or control the swarm tendency by removing and killing the developing queen.  After a couple of day's consideration, I chose the hands-off approach to wait and see what happened naturally.

Today I inspected again. The original queen cell is vacant and I did not see any new queen cells. I think the original queen did swarm as the current laying pattern is not well established as it had been in late March. But I did see larva, so there is a queen in there somewhere!

I have been keeping a paper journal for both my bees and my garden. When I inspect the hive, I take notes using voice command on my cell phone. I then transcribe my notes into my journal once I finish the inspection. By noting the bar numbers I can see changes over time.

I have begun working on another top-bar hive and hope to have it finished by early summer. I will then wait and capture a swarm or split my existing hive. Either way I hope to BEE ready when the next opportunity comes buzzing!

My Bee Journal

Close up of notes about what is present on each bar with comb