|Apple tree in the apiary|
should blossom in a day or two
There are always these little tidbits of wisdom that remind me of things I thought I had already got down along the way in my own beekeeping adventures.
Several hive were stacked so tall I had to do something. Several were only using the upper entrances so I had to see what was going on and my plan was to go out and do hive reversals, assuming all the clusters were in the upper boxes.
Wendy emphasized to the many beginners there not to go out to perform any task on their hives unless they knew why there were doing it and could ascertain whether the hive they meant to perform it on met all the criteria for the operation. I found myself relieved! Didn't I already know that? I pictured myself out in the apiary doing a marathon of hive reversals on all the hives, but they didn't all need it, of course.
My big concern was the well drawn out honey supers from the old plywood hives I moved last fall. In my exhaustion I felt I must have crammed in 8 long-drawn comb frames into a box that only seven should have filled. I was concerned about having clogged up the flow of the hive, and indeed, I did. Many of the honey frames in the hive supers were clumped together only now being accessed by the bees. To the bee's credit they managed through the winter in spite of this error. Note to self and another reminder from Wendy: If the hive deep has eight frames and the super above seven, is the cluster able to easily navigate up through the hive to access their stores for winter?
Two hives in particular concerned me so I concentrated on those. They still had, on May 10, at least 30 lbs of honey BELOW the cluster! So that being the case, I pulled out the two bottom deeps and the frames with honey, consolidated them into one deep, then placed that deep on top of the cluster. Ta da! hive reversal! One with a good reason for doing so.
Inspecting my Palmer hive now seeing it's second spring after a second long winter, this hive is still a tower but the colony was fully utilizing the entire hive. I did not see one frame bottom with any queen cells, checking the tipped box bottom only. Pollen coming in below, cluster between two supers up top. I decided they'd be fine until a good nectar flow is on, then I'll split them. Palmer 2 the same situation. The other hives are happily using the bottom entrances and bringing pollen in. I decided since they are all in just three boxes each, and I was gaining on three hours in the apiary I'd wait on those hives as well til the nectar flow is on.
A note about smoking bees & cleaning your tools
|I replaced the original|
net with no-see-um
& black fly proof net.
Tool cleaning can go a long way in keeping your bees from needing to be smoked. Smoke's most valuable trick is to mask the smell of alarm pheromones. If you think about it scents or pheromones from the previous hive are all over your tools, and your bee suite, inspection after inspection. I rub my tools down with Winter Green rubbing alcohol. The bees seem to like the smell. Phil Gavin of the Honey Exchange in Portland says he rubs his hands in it when he goes in bare-handed to his hives. Cleaning your tools is especially important if you clean out a dead hive least you take into another hive any virus or bacteria that may played a role in their demise. Nice to be a beekeeper again. Six months of winter is almost as hard on maintaining my skill as it is on the bees... well, ok, not quite that hard...