After pouring down rain all day Friday and early Saturday morning, the weather finally cleared. With a threat of thunderstorms on Sunday, I figured I should take advantage of the break in the weather to perform the inspection.
The girls were exceptionally non-agressive this morning except for the one below. You can also see me installing the Beetle Blaster (click the link for the best jingle ever) between two frames that will hopefully catch any pesky small hive beetles lurking about. I did not see any evidence of them on the frames which is awesome and hopefully it will remain that way.
I also finally have a good shot of Large Marge. She’s the larger bee with the green dot on her back for easy identification. The dot colors are actually standardized by the year the queen was hatched so it easy to tell how old your queen really is.
I also added a 3rd super to the hive. I did find one swarm cell in the 2nd super so I decided it was probably a good idea to add the 3rd even though I would have rather seen a bit more comb drawn out on the frames. However, I would say a good 5 out of the 8 frames were drawn out, so adding an extra super is not causing me a lot of heartburn. Next week I’ll check the progress on the frames in this super since they all have new plastic foundation. I may have to put the feeder back on to give them an extra boost of wax production.
Today I was glad the girls were on their best “beehavior” as the Derr clan came out to pay a visit. Nobody got stung, and it hopefully was an educational experience for all. I myself learned that I need to see “Bee Movie” to complete my training as a beekeeper.
Last weekend, the prickly pears were in full bloom, and I was disappointed to see my bees were not taking full advantage of this bounty of pollen. I am happy to report the girls have figured it out.
You know you are a beekeeper when you have a bad dream where you open up your hive and all you see are hundreds of supersedure cells.
My beetle blaster arrived last night from Brushy Moutain, and I will install it in my hive this weekend. Per the picture below, it rests between two frames, and the small hive beetles, looking for a dark place to hide, will enter the trap. Inside the trap is a tiny sarlacc, and the beetles will then discover a new definition of pain and suffering as they are slowly digested over a thousand years. If sarlaccs are not available in your area, I hear mineral or vegetable oil also work well.
Sharon Stiteler aka Birdchick has a great blog around bird watching that I really enjoy reading. Even better, she also keeps bees, with Neil Gaiman of all people, whom she refers to as Mr. Neil.
She posted this family bee installation video on her blog today from a fellow birder (and also beekeeper) which I find fascinating mainly because of the general lack of protective gear. Bees are generally very docile when they arrive in a package, but in this day and age of over protective parenting, you would expect them to have their kids in head to toe bee garb. It was refreshing to watch, and I think the only one that got stung was the dog.
It may not be a deluxe apartment in the sky, but Large Marge is now in the second super laying eggs. I removed the top hive feeder as there was still quite a bit of syrup from the refill last week so it appears they are finding their own sources. There were lots of small hive beetle larvae in the feeder, but I still don’t see any in the two brood supers. I took the feeder far from the hive to wash it out and also squished all the larvae I could find. Hopefully any that did make it out will be eaten by my nematode army that I spread on Saturday.
Here is a photo of a frame from the first super. There is capped honey on the upper left and right of the frame and the middle has capped brood and bee larvae in various stages of development.
I still did not add a 3rd super since the 2nd one still did not have the middle frames completely full of capped brood. Plus, I do not want to add a 3rd super with the hive beetles lurking about without enough bees to defend the empty frames. The way they are building, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to add the extra super next week.
Beneficial nematodes are an organic non-chemical way to control pests in your garden. For beekeepers, they can play an important part in IPM (Integrated Pest Management) for controlling the small hive beetle. I have found several of these pests in my hive, and while a strong hive can handle them, weaker hives can be taken down if the infestation gets out of control. To give my hive every chance of success, I decided to spread nematodes around my hive as the beetle larvae pupate in the soil outside the hive. Luckily today was the perfect day since a cold front moved through Austin last night, and the weather this morning was overcast and in the 70’s. Nematodes do not like heat so it is best to apply them when the temperature is under 80 degrees. You can usually find nematodes at your local nursery especially if they cater towards more organic gardening practices.
Since the package I bought will treat 9000 square feet, I also spread them through my veggie garden and in my plant beds. Nematodes will also attack ants, fleas, and other garden pests.
Pollen is the only source of protein and other nutrients for the bee colony, and is the primary food for the larvae. Below is another great shot by the owner of the property where my hive resides. In addition to working very hard to get itself into the African Aloe Bloom, the pollen baskets on the legs of this bee are quite full. I’ve also decided that even though there is a wild hive in the neighbor’s yard, I’m assuming any photo taken is a bee from my hive.