Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What busy bees but somebody forgot to show them my plans!

Well we're back from holidays and the weather here has been superb during our break away.  Murphy's Law - not really.

Anyway, to continue from the last post, I checked on the hive this afternoon.  Plenty of pollen was still coming in - things were looking good.

However, and it's my own fault, when I exchanged the super to below the brood chamber, I only put in 5 frames (that was all I had available as drawn frames). Big mistake and one which I cannot justify since I had more just that they weren't drawn - what was I thinking?? Why didn't I add all the frames??

What the girls have done, and it's completely natural, is to draw fresh comb and store nectar on the base of the brood chamber frame bottom bars.  The comb added is the depth of the super.
One or two had collapsed into the mesh floor with a right old mess although one that I didn't want to explore until I had considered my options.  I actually think it was my poking around that precipitated the combs to collapse.  Where the super frames coincide with BC frames above, all is hunky dory. A couple of the frames I took out were robust so I removed the "extra" wax comb and collected in a jar which I am leaving for them to recycle.

My options appear to be;

1) Do nothing - the bees will rebuild and recycle the honey, nectar, wax and pollen - this is obviously easier to me and will be less stressful to us all. The disadvantage of this method is that the super below could be a right old mess and come next spring, I could in trouble trying to lift out BC frames with these "comb extensions" attached.

2) Dismantle the hive akin to carrying an artificial swarm but return everything to the original hive location but with cleaned up frames etc i.e. return the brood chamber frames to a spare hive but with the super frames all in place.  [This would, I think need to be done in two parts - firstly swapping all the brood over and then the supers.]  Could be risky given the cooler temperatures and the chance of losing the Queen. (There are masses of bees and the chance of finding the Queen and keeping her safe during the swap-over has to be factored in).

3) I cannot think of a third option - all suggestions will be gratefully received although, in time-honoured beekeeping tradition, there are probably as many likely solutions as there are folk who might know.

The photo on the right shows a worker about to emerge from her cell.

Given the above, it's such a shame following the great weather of the last 4 weeks and the girls' wonderful work ethic. There could have been great wintering potential.  To be honest, I feel like I have let them down.  It's my first big mistake but hopefully not irretrievable at least in terms of keeping a tidy hive.

I'll be posting some photos later of some fauna and flora from the Adriatic!!


Lynn said...

Hi Cliff and welcome back. This photos are incredible.

A few weeks ago when I was combining frames of capped honey to leave on the hives for the winter, I was removing a frame in the 9th position and when I tried to lift it, it was so heavy with honey that it collapsed. The super was above the brood chamber. Not wanting to disturb the hive any further I decided to quickly close and let the bees deal with it. (That was the easy way out for me.) Glad to say the bees have dealt with it quite nicely. I had to check the boxes last week because of a couple of concerns and when I peered down at the frame, the bees had repaired it and cleaned up the mess. I won't disturb that super again until spring.

This was one of the first frames that I ever built and at the time was not aware of the importance of really reinforcing with glue. I've learned now they do get heavy!

I took this quote from another blog and you may have seen it, but it makes me think everytime I read it.

"There are a few rules of thumb that are useful guides. One is that when you are confronted with some problem in the apiary and you do not know what to do, then do nothing. Matters are seldom made worse by doing nothing and are often made much worse by inept intervention." --The How-To-Do-It book of Beekeeping, Richard Taylor

Kenzie said...

Welcome back, Cliff - I am looking forward to your photos from your holiday.

I'm very sorry to hear about your "mess". I'll confess it did bring a little chuckle (please forgive me) though, and it is very interesting to see. It's most interesting because I am about to swap my brood and super over (in both hives) and in one of the hives would have happily left only 7 out of the 10 super frames there. So you've save me! - thanks! The other reason I felt OK to chuckle is that, like Lynn, I have a suspicion that the bees will be able to tidy up better than you could ever do, and so this "mess" is nothing other than a slight setback, and barely that. I'll be fascinated to know what your choice of action is, and what the subsequent results are. Nice pictures, too.

Cliff W said...

I was driving today and the words from Messrs Lennon & McCartney crossed my mind "speaking words of wisdom, let it be(e)"

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

I don't have a lot of experience but I'm very inclined to the quote and the let it bee statement. The bees can certainly clean it up.

Your hive looks really healthy and the phoeos are great. Welcome Back!!

Pia said...

I think I would also leave - and you have made me decide to have a quick check in my brood chamber before I go on holiday next week!

Stephen said...

We've all done it! Well, I have. Just the once. Won't do it again.