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One side of the one comb with brood as of March 1st in an average hive
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I've been home a month now, two weeks of which I have had this cold. There is another good reason to go south and stay south.
I wandered over to the hives and played with the weights. The thumbscrew broke and I need to find a replacement which masses the same. I could not find a brass screw, but got a stainless one, but it is a touch light, so I have to add washers.
I could not resist pulling off a lid and taking out a frame. The picture below is the total brood in a hive with five frames of bees. I am tempted to add a patty, but I know better. It is too soon. Best to conserve the bees for a few weeks from now when it will be time to start building up in earnest.
I used no smoke and the bees were fine, but
a few found me a nice place to sit and prowled around my
face and ears while I took pictures.
The images are larger than usual so that anyone who wants to take a close look can just click and examine them instead of going out and bothering a hive. This is the amount of brood to be expected now. I looked for mites and did not see any.
I had read that the early brood would be loaded with mites since all the phoretic mites should by some accounts rushing into the open brood, and I have wondered about that, but this does not seem to be the case. Of course I drizzled oxalic last fall. I wonder if I should do some mite tests? I like to do drops, but I don't have enough clearance under these hives to do them easily. I could do an alcohol wash, but hate to keep killing bees, 300 at a time, just out of curiosity.
I watched a bit of a "Gilligan's Island" DVD tonight and decided it was even worse than I remembered and that it has zero redeeming qualities, so I sent it back.
I'm feeling better today, but not so great that I feel like the long drive to the Bluewater club meeting tonight and back. As it turned out, that was maybe a good thing, since the fog rolled in and I would have been driving home in fog.
I did go out and dump some ashes and poke around outside a bit in the afternoon, though. It was a lovely day, with everything melting. While out there, I brought in the old fridge I used to use as an oven to melt pails of honey. I had it set up with light bulbs in it for heat, controlled by a thermostat and with shelves for pails. I ripped out the wiring when I took it outside, assuming it was headed for the dump, but need it again, so may have to set it up again. I have about ten pails of honey with wax in them that need to be settled.
Tonight, I watched "Serenity", a sci-fi flick that has had good reviews, but found the plot sketchy and the fighting tedious. Actually, I am finding the car chases, fruit cart upsets and the extended combat scenes in movies totally vacuous lately. I think my continued bout with the common cold has me a bit weary and depressed... or maybe I am just seeing things as they really are.
I came across this table (right) from back in November 2004. In light of the increasing number of reports of hives surviving without treatments I found this interesting. The fact that I am also looking at getting more Styrofoam boxes makes it relevant, too. If this experience means anything, it seems that varroa does better in the Styro boxes.
I went out and counted. I have 29 live hives at this point. I also have about 70 extra brood chambers beyond what are on these hives. Total brood boxes: ~125
I figure I will have 25 hives come May 10. In mid-May, I'll split everything in half to get 50 and all will be in singles at that point. To do so, I'll need 25 queens or 25 cells. Should I replace the old queens, too? If so, then I need 50.
Then I figure they should be ready to split again in 5 or 6 weeks. If I start on May 10th, then the next split is the week of June 15th. Assuming that the failure rate is 10%, the successful count will be 45 and that will split again to 90.
The next split would be July 18th. That is plenty early for the splits to build up for winter. Assuming the same 10% attrition, I'll split about 80 and get 160.
Five weeks later, that will shrink to about 150 or so. I would not split them, since the hives need time to build up for winter.
If my 29 becomes 150, that will use up 300 boxes going into winter in doubles and I currently have about 125, so I'll have to convert some supers or buy some frames. I have plenty of boxes. For that matter, I could just place an empty box under for wintering. the dead air space seems to work just as well as comb. I do know that I have not had luck wintering single storey hives.
Am I going to do this? I really don't know. It sounds like a lot of work and I tend to be away a lot in summer. I may, though, but will have to figure out a schedule and stick to it. I will also have to figure how to winter them since I only have wraps for about 25 without dragging out the old large multi-hive wraps. I suppose I could use them, though. I'll also need more locations, and my truck is pretty old for going very far. It will pull the trailers, though.
So, what would I do with the 125 surviving hives the next year? If I split them the same way, I'd have 500. That is far more than I can handle or have the equipment to house. Obviously, I'd have to sell some -- probably 100. That means I'd have to buy more equipment. Good doubles I am told have been selling as high as $300. Singles should get at least $150, I would think. That would be $15,000 at least, minus the costs and loss of equipment. Selling nucs in May is a possibility, too.
So, if I do this splitting, how best should I do it? Should I just split using full-sized standard boxes the way I usually do, or divide the boxes in half, or use a paper or plastic shroud over the middle frames to make temporary smaller compartments? Too large a box for a split can result in slow build-up or even damage to nucs in early spring. One year I made some one-frame nucs in early June and the frost did them harm.
Another warm, sunny day is coming up. I'm feeling better. I am wondering if one of the reasons I have been feeling a bit punk is the Aldara I am using on the precancerous spots on my head. I noticed that yesterday I felt fine when I got up, but after I put it on my head, I was tired. It does seem to be working, though. I notice the spots on my head are looking less inflamed and starting to heal. It will be interesting to see how the spots clear up eventually. The doctor said to use the cream three times a week for a month. I have a week and a little to go.
Looking at yesterday's posting, I guess I will start with an inventory. Then I will have to go through all the brood boxes inspecting and sorting. I will also scrape. I have not done any of these things for quite a while, but I guess it is time.
Meijers are coming for coffee today, so I guess I'll discuss my queen supply options with them. I tend to rely on their opinions and contacts.
I'm still waiting to hear what is happening with Hawaii and also when I will be working this spring.
Meijers came by and we decided to go to the Queen breeding Workshop in Lethbridge Monday. Joe Latshaw is the instructor. I'm not sure why I am going. I guess I just hate to miss a party.
I went out and checked the hives this afternoon and did an inventory. I see there are two hives dead and one weak. One was dead in the fall, and another has given up since. That takes me down to the 25 I had predicted . We'll see if I lose any more by May.
If I had 35 early last fall, and have 25 in May, that means an attrition rate of 10/35=29%. Maybe I should factor that into my calculations. Maybe not. I don't know. I do plan to do a better job of beekeeping.
I re-did the calculations above and see that I can only expect about a 4:1 increase year over year after factoring in expected losses. We'll see. I should count pallets and lids, I suppose, but I do have lots.
That is enough for 120 doubles going into winter. There are other options, though.
Hold the press! I just got word.
Hawaiian queens will be accepted into Canada this spring (surprise -- not!).
Seems I got a scoop. Nobody else seems to know.
What am I watching tonight?
"Desperate Housewives". Yeah, who would ever have thought, heh? I wouldn't have. I rent movies as a sort of sociological study and this is one I dreaded getting but figured if I wanted to understand this millennium I had to do it, but guess what? It is a total blast.
Of course, I used to be a TV repairman and I hated afternoons because of the soap operas...
I got a call tonight from the guy in the US willing to make us some interesting queens. Sounds good. Write me if you are interested.
Ellen's show opens tonight. Everyone is welcome!
We drove to Red Deer and the opening went well. Quite a few people showed up, including our friends. They went off for supper after, but seeing as El is feeling tired from the cold, we headed home.
Here are some nice bee pictures looking in under the pillows. Click to enlarge.
I took out my bike and took the dog for
a run. I think I'm finally over this cold.
The picture at right show normal fecal spotting on healthy hives when they get to flying freely.
A continental breakfast (ugh) and we were off to the meeting. Joe Latshaw and Medhat put on a pretty good seminar which was pretty much a review for us old guys, but there were lots of new beekeepers and young people there.
We left at 4:30, drove back, and arrived in the evening.
I'm still trying to decide exactly how I will proceed this spring. It looks as if I will be inspecting sometime in April, but I have decided that I will be away until then. People are putting on pollen patties and I am hearing of hives with several frames of brood already. Some are feeding syrup in open feeders and it is being taken. To my mind it is early, but if the bees are raising a significant amount of brood, then perhaps I should get some patties onto the hives. I always say mid-March is the time to start patties and I guess that is about now. I won't feed syrup, though. I do not want to stimulate them.
A day at my desk.
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