There are some interesting things going on in hives around Maine in early summer 2014.
We have seen evidence of a lot of hives that have recently swarmed. The queen cell below recently opened, and the hive has capped brood, but no eggs or young larvae. It is likely that a new queen has emerged below, but hasn’t yet mated or started laying eggs. In a week, there should be brood. Some good insurance would be to add a frame with eggs or open brood from another hive, just in case the virgin queen doesn’t return from her mating flight.
We have seen a lot of girls emerge.
And frames are full of honey and pollen. (Pollen below.)
Sometimes though, there are problems. One package lost its queen early on. The workers didn’t have an egg to raise an emergency queen, so one or more workers started laying eggs. Laying workers are a problem. The worker bees were never inseminated, so they can only lay unfertilized eggs (that become drones). They also don’t have a good laying pattern and will =often (usually) put multiple eggs in a single cell. Pictures below show only drone brood and multiple eggs in the many cells. Michael Bush has some good ideas on trying to solve this problem at this LINK.
We were privileged to have Carol Cottrill give a presentation on Spring management and swarm prevention. Carol introduced basic biological reasons that bees swarm and described several of the steps that can be used to reduce the probability of swarming, and general good practices. The talk was organized, and Carol’s enthusiasm was infectious.
Carol spent considerable time describing methods to maximize honey production. An idea that was new to many members of the club was taht of placing an additional entrance between the brood boxes and the supers to reduce congestion in the hive and make it easier for field bees to fill the supers.
Carol also described methods for adding supers. When adding additional supers to the top of the hive during a nectar flow, it is important to put at least one frame with some honey in the new super (position 3 or 8) to “bait” the bees to start working it. This approach has the advantage that the queen is unlikely to move up into the supers (past the honey barrier) and enter the supers. After the bees start filling the first super, an alternative approach is to place a new super in between the brood box and the partially filled super. No honey needs to be added to this super because the top super will draw the bees up. Carol mentioned that as the season goes on and the bees start capping the honey, that the capped honey should be moved to the outside frame positions of the box and unfilled or partially filled frames should be placed in the center.
Another great tip for increasing honey production was the idea that placing 2-3 supers on at the start of a good honey flow can increase honey production. According to Carol, the increased internal hive volume makes evaporation of excess water from the ripening nectar/honey more efficient. Also, during a good flow, those supers can fill up pretty fast. So having enough space for the bee to put all of that nectar is always a plus!
Carol graciously shared her expertise and answered MANY audience questions. It was a very lively and engaging presentation. We hope that she will return!