Spring Bee Hive Cleaning

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We finally had a nice enough day for me to open up all my hives, go through each frame and tidy everything up. It took a good hour per hive, but was very informative!

All three hives had capped and open brood that was concentrated in the top box. For this reason, I inverted all my brood boxes so that the top box was on the bottom and the bees could start to work upward as they seem to prefer to do.

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A dirty bottom board after a long winter

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Cleaning up

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Moldy comb. A strong hive will clean this right up and use it with no problems

All the bottom boards were extremely dirty and needed a good scraping or replacing. It felt really good to get all that detritus out of there as it’s just a breeding ground for pests and mold. My hives were a little damp inside, even to the point where I saw some slugs hiding out and some mold on a few unused frames. I think I really have to get going making and installing quilt boxes and screened bottom boards to improve the airflow situation.

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You can see two shiny brown varroa mites clinging to the back of the bee near the middle

Sadly, I did notice varroa mites in all three hives after a whole year of not seeing a single one. Hive 1 had some visible phoretic mites while the other two had mites revealed in some of the capped brood that was broken when I removed frames and cross-comb. I’m thinking of trying a powdered sugar treatment regimen but am still in the research stages of figuring out efficacy. I’ll also need to install screened bottom boards first. I don’t like the ones available for sale locally so I’m working on my own design, which I’ll share in an upcoming post.

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Hive 2’s queen

A lovely surprise was coming across two of my queens totally by accident! I wasn’t even looking for queens, just checking for eggs. I guess all the research I’ve been doing over the winter has made me better able to spot them because they really jumped out at me, visibly. Hive 2’s queen was looking a little small to me compared to the big feral mated queen from Hive 3. Not sure if that will become an issue or not. I know the smaller queen is older and this hive has the smallest population, so we’ll see if it’s prudent to requeen this year or not.

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Hive 3’s feral mated queen

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One hive had a little bit of drone brood started, and I added an empty frame to each hive so they can build more. This will allow me to do drone trapping which will help with mite control. It also means that it’s almost swarm season and split season. Yay!

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A little bit of bullet-shaped drone brood at the top of the frame

The biggest job was scraping off all the burr comb and built up propolis so the frames would sit neatly once again. I was actually hoping to get stung during this work as I’ve been told that getting stung more will help build up antibodies and make me less susceptible to developing a bee venom allergy. Even my most defensive hive refused to oblige me though so I may have to start taking matters into my own hands, literally. At least stinging yourself gives you the option of where you get stung!

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Some broken drone brood

During the frame cleaning some capped brood was inevitably broken open. Never a happy thing but it gave me a chance for something I’ve been wanting to try, which is tasting bee larvae. They have a nutty, slightly sour taste. Not particularly unpleasant. I’ve read that the reason bears try to break open hives is primarily to get at the protein-rich brood while the honey simply serves as a nice dessert.

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Happy bees!

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Bring on the 2017 beekeeping season! 🙂

 

 

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