Friday, August 29, 2008

Just hangin' out!

As can be seen from this photo, our bees like hanging out on the front porch on these warm Atlanta evenings. This picture was taken at 9:30 at night on Thursday, August 28. When I see this my first response is to worry about them not having enough room, and hope that it is just that they are hot and bored. I will take a peak in this weekend to be sure that they are not space retricted.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Entry

This will be our first foray into blogging, so bear with us as we go through the learning curve.

We have had our bees now since June of 2007, but this is the first effort to actually document the hive's progress. Ultimately this site is intended to track the activities as we interact with the hive in real time, but let's start with one overall summary of what has been happening up to this point. I need to interject here that I have a terrible memory so don't be surprised if there end up being some gaping holes.

June 2007: Finally recieved a nuc from John Pluta in Milledgeville after trying for 3 months to no avail. In the end I regretted not ordering a package from the start as all of the advantage of a nuc was lost with the long delivery delay.

Summer/fall 2007: Over the summer the hive did a nice job building out the comb, laying eggs, rearing brood, gathering pollen and storing honey. At one point though (I don't remember when) we lost the queen and had to wait for the hive to requeen. In the end, they stored up a full deep of honey reserves in the upper brood box to get them through the winter. Nothing for us this year, but that was okay considering the issues we had so we were glad to have a healthy hive going into winter.

Spring 2008: Bees started off strong and built up quickly, everything was in order to be in optimum production mode for the major nectar flow. But then I got greedy. As they were producing a lot of honey in a hurry I decided to try Rossman's Bee-O-Pac Comb Honey Packaging System which I thought was a cool product. Although I had given the bees pleanty of room with these plastic frames they evidently were so turned off by the stuff that they refused to even go into this space which effectively restricted this strong hive into way too little area resulting in a swarm. A swarm in the early stages of the biggest flow of the year is a frustrating event. By the time the hive requeened itself and was back up to production strength the spring flow was long over. The new queen turned out to be very strong and prolific, producing ultimately enough honey for us to be able to extract 70 pounds for our use, which we took off the hive in early July. I would like to note that these bees are very aggressive, and we are not able to go into this colony without full protective coverage. It has been suggested that we consider requeening this fall due to this agression, but I am tempted not too as I am willing to put up with their aggression if it translates into a strong colony that produces a lot of honey next year.

We have made an interesting observation that I would like feedback on. The entrance of the hive is being gnawed on by an animal or insects or something else. It is possible that an animal of some sort trying to get into the hive could be a cause of the colony's aggression.

August 2008: The current situation with the hive is that they are backing down brood production, with honey stores beginning to replace the brood in the upper brood box. There is still one super on the hive that is about 1/3 to 1/2 full of honey. The plan is to leave this super on for a while to see what happens. If we are lucky and have a good flow this fall they could possibly fill both the upper brood (for them) and the super (for us), but we are not expecting that. Chances are that they will never fully fill the super. If this is the case, they we need to decide what to do with the super; 1) leave it on all winter, or 2)remove and freeze. If removal is the choice, the question is when?