Friday, January 08, 2010

Hive Update

I zipped by our hives this afternoon.

Given the rainy afternoon, I wasn't surprised to find things relatively quiet.

(That's our deserted hive entrance, above)
It's a bit depressing to see the colony members that haven't made it through the winter piled outside the hive. A mass bee graveyard.

It'll be interesting to see if both our hives pull through. We were pretty worried about Blue Moon going into winter and things are looking downright desolate in that hive's vicinity. I saw a few girls emerging from Mud Honey Hive so there are a few signs that not all is lost. Yet.

4 comments:

  1. I attended the Tilth's Beekeeping 101 class and it was very informative! I'm thinking of volunteering at an apiary this year in preparation for possibly getting our own hive next year. What kind of bees do you have and are they gentle?
    -Heather

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  2. That's awesome! You'll have so much fun. I know that Puget Sound Beekeepers has some apiary work parties/volunteer events. Not sure about stuff on the East side.

    We have Italian bees and I would say that they are moderately gentle. Naturally, they were exceedingly friendly when we first acquired them because they didn't have any comb or brood to protect.

    Once they had a fully established hive they were less gentle. Also, for a while, we were checking one of our hives every week because we were having queen problems. That hive was not a happy camper and almost all of my stings came from that one hive. Not so gentle.

    Back when my mom had bees 20 years ago, she used to check the hives while in her bathing suit, they were that friendly. Not sure what kind she had though.

    Good luck!

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  3. I happened to check on my hives last Saturday - both colonies are at least alive, but I discovered massive black mold infestations in both hives :-/

    The one hive where the mold was worse definitely had much lower population numbers. I'm not quite sure how it happened, as I thought I had made sure to have good ventilation.

    I removed the outer and inner covers, and let them air out for a few hours. Luckily it was not raining and even sunny that day.

    I scrubbed the moldy areas on the covers with bleach solution, rinsed & dried, then took a sander to the bad parts. I added an empty western super to each hive to give more air space between inner and outer cover, and added popsicle stick spacers below the outer cover.

    There were huge piles of dead bees on top of the screen of the screened bottom board. A lot of moldy insect bodies. I wonder of that restricted the air flow enough, since I was using entrance reducers to keep out the cold drafts. I swept all the dead bees out and left off the entrance reducer, all in hopes of getting the insides dried out and starve the remaining mold.

    I am considering building new hive bodies, and sealing the insides with non-toxic polyurethane to discourage mold growth. Then swap the current wooden ware for the new stuff, and burninate the mold.

    We'll see how they are doing in a week or so. I hope it doesn't get bitter cold again.

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  4. Hey Daniel,

    Glad to hear that both of your hives are at least alive. I'd probably better take a quick peek on one of these dry days to see if we have any left in our small hive.

    Interesting to hear about the mold, too. Hopefully you've managed to stunt its growth for a while; I'll let you know if we have a similar issue after our checkup. We, too, had entrance reducers in place. I like your idea of the poly coating.

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