Monday, May 10, 2010

Honey Supering

It's a honey of a super and now both hives have them.

(Pictured here is Hive#1 with its Mango coloured honey super that they got last week. The pink and white boxes are the bees' home--kitchen, pantry and nursery. Anything higher up than that is the extra honey for me.)

Beekeeping this spring has been hectic. I'm not sure if it's a second year thing or not. Gardens, taxes, feeding and medicating the bees. It's hard to keep up.

In Canada it's as if we all come out of our igloos and want to get active--all at the same time! Spring meetings and events abound. I'm sure it's like that all over the world, even for countries that don't have such cold winters.

(By the way, the Canada flag sticker on Hive #2 is patriotic but that's not why it's there. I put it there as a visual cue for the bees, especially since both hives look too much alike--remember how my newly mated queen came back to her hive last year, went in the wrong hive and was killed. So this year I'm trying to mix things up a bit colour-wise and help the bees find their correct hive).
Hive#1 continues to progress slightly ahead than Hive #2 and sporting more bees. But Hive #2 may not look as robust but on inspection they had just as much drawn comb as Hive #1. So they are keeping up, but in their own way.

Hive #2 is showing some aggression and I've been stung and received a few head butts (that's a bee warning for back-off-you-or-I'll-sting). This too when I'm not working on the hive! I'm just grateful they warn first.... but not always. A worker guard came barrelling out of the hive and went right for me, stinging me on the neck. The funny thing is after that I felt great and slept so much better that night. I wonder if that's a little apitherapy at work.
I don't see signs of skunk scratching so I'm not sure why they're ornery. Of note, once we open the hive and are pulling frames. etc., they are quiet and well behaved. It's only the guards at the stoop that are cranky.
I had a few frames of capped and uncapped honey that I'd saved in the freezer all winter. So I defrosted them and gave them to the bees in their honey supers along with frames of empty honeycombs ready for them to fill.
The whole orchard has been in bloom and on decent days the bees are very busy coming and going. They are very occupied with their thoughts to fill the larders.

(This photo is the bottom of my Styrofoam hive top feeder. Because I had a rim spacer in for 3 weeks the bees got busy. They just can't resist that space. I had to shake them all off--that's another story--and then scrape off their honey filled combs. This is Hive #1 which is doing very well.)
Now to my question: In the books it says to stick with a 7 of 10 rule. When 7 of 10 frames are drawn in comb, add another deep. This info applies particularly to new nuc colonies. But what of an established colony that has mostly drawn comb on their frames. When do I add the honey super? Do I go by how much nectar is in the frames? Shoudl it be capped or uncapped? What do you think?

They both had 3 frames capped of the 10 and the other 7 had nectar in almost every cell. With Hive #1 also roaring with a lot of bees I was concerned about swarming so I gave them a super box last week. Hive #1 being slower we waited another week (and for the rain to stop) and gave them their super today.
No stings or head butts today, but I was bearing gifts of honey. Maybe they'll like me more now.
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