Monday, June 11, 2012

Splitting the Hive. Now There Are Two (We Hope).

I now have 2 hives! 
The original one the left and the new one on the right.

I remembered to take pictures this time. Come along with me as I split my bee hive in two. I got started early in the morning, while the bees were still in the hive. Here they are waiting on the "porch" for the sun to warm them up. It's easier to work around the hive when the bees aren't yet out flying. You can see them peeking out.

First I needed to dig up my 2 rhubarb plants. I never liked them much, anyway. I didn't realize there were "ugly" rhubarbs. My variety was pale, not the brilliant red I remembered from my youth. And my plants had flowers. Hideously ugly flowers. I chopped off all the stalks which I'll freeze and perhaps turn into wine at some point.

I set the corms out by the road and put up a Craigslist ad inviting folks to come give them a new home.

This is the spot where the rhubarb used to reside. It will now be an extended addition to my bee yard.

It's kind of awkward to try to grow plants around the hives, or to try to weed around them. My new plan is to put down weed blocks consisting of wood and old carpet. I just happened to have some lying around.

Once I had the area cleared of weeds and relatively level I was ready to put down a piece of plywood (to keep down weeds) and then make a stable base from cinder blocks. This keeps the hive up off the ground. I needed the bottom board to be level across the front but canted slightly forward so the rain will run out instead of pooling inside the hive. By this time the bees were getting more active and heading out for flights.

I placed a box of frames on top of the bottom board, got my telescoping lid and inner cover ready, and waited for my bee buddy, Kristine, to show up. I use what are called 8 frame medium boxes, but these actually hold 9 frames each.

We enjoyed a lunch of chili and cornbread, then it was time to suit up, smoke the bees, and start dismantling their home. The bees were incredibly docile today. They really didn't pay us much attention. We looked into the top 3 boxes but never found the queen.

My queen isn't marked so it is difficult to find her among 50,000 bees. She's making babies so she's got to be in there somewhere. The bees looked to be handling their crowded state very well. We decided to simply move those top 3 boxes to the new hive location. The hive without the queen should realize that very soon and they have the ability to create a new queen. I am going to start feeding both hives to make sure they are getting enough food. We saw brood and pollen in the hive, but not much honey. I want to make sure they make enough honey for them, and mama, this fall. Look at this cool piece of wax comb they built. And below that is a picture of some more wax we scraped from the top of some of the frames. My bees like to put brood in odd places.

Here is a dead drone larva. We always end up with casualties when we go into the hive. Which is why I try not to bother them more than is needed.

After we got the hives set up Kristine and I sat out under the apple tree and watched the bees come and go. This little hummingbird sat in the tree over our heads and hung out with us for quite a while.

I will keep you updated as to the status of the hives. I hope the new one will flourish and I'll have 2 strong hives very soon. I need to get those new top feeders in place. Probably Wednesday. Tomorrow I have to give my eldest son a sewing lesson.

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