Yard Report – June 2012

The Idea

four hives

Down to four.

A couple brood cycles make all the difference in hive populations. Now, these bees are truly Wyoming bees raised on nothing but small cell sized comb. All those bees remembering California and larger cell sizes have perished.

  • PF-100 frames are readily accepted
  • bees occupy 8 to 9 frames
  • first drone comb drawn
  • second deep hive body added
  • removed entrance reducers
  • shook out a queenless hive

Without spring moisture, available forage is fading fast. Looks like another drought year.

The Details

Mann Lake’s PF-100 Plastic Frames

Hive populations doubled. And the bees continued to draw out perfect small cell size comb on the PF-100 frames. Mann Lake has certainly got it right with these frames.

Using the PF-100s was effortless, cost effective and efficient compared to using wax based small cell foundation with it’s inherent problems.

Space

Brood boxes, filled with unmodified PF-100 frames were set on top of the singles. Entrance reducers were removed. The hives are now doubles.

  • the bees definitely like and focus brood rearing on the 1 1/4″ wide frames
  • broodnest continued to expand horizontally rather than vertically into the new box above

Comb

Drone comb on small cell plastic frame.

Drone comb on small cell plastic frame.

After drawing out 6 to 8 frames of perfect small cell sized comb, the bees sensed a lack of drones or drone comb and decided to raise some.

Since the plastic cell size couldn’t be reworked, small two finger sized sections of comb were raised or rotated away from the foundation to accommodate larger size cells.

  • only a few sections of comb per hive were reworked this way
  • small cell comb continued to be perfectly drawn elsewhere in the hive

This parallels my earlier experience with beeswax based small cell foundation. Except then, all comb drawing activity would switch and focus on reworking whole combs of previously drawn comb to larger cell sizes. And some hives would make a big mess of the job.

Back then, drone foundation based frames were inserted to eliminate the problem. But to no avail. It reduced, but did not eliminate whole combs being reworked to larger cell sizes.

If the bees are satisfied with just the small amount of raised drone comb on the PF-100s, no additional drone frames would be needed. That would simplify comb management. And allow for greater flexibility, an important factor in frame based beekeeping.

Done Gone

One hive went queenless. No drone laying, etc. She just disappeared.

Did I inadvertently kill her during an inspection. It’s impossible to tell. But based on my commercial beekeeping experience, I expected to loose a hive before winter.

So, no more eggs or young larva. And not enough time, in my short seasoned area to allow them requeen themselves and build up enough to survive the winter.

So, the queenless bees were shaken out. And drawn comb/brood was shared with the other hives. At this time of year and with resource coming in, these bees will readily find a new home without instigating a bee war.

Drought

I hate to even say it. But it’s here:

  • the prairie didn’t green up
  • not a single baby antelope sighted
  • accelerated spring run off from the mountains
  • the weather is more typical of July than June

I typically move my bees near agriculture by July. During a drought:

  • limited irrigated fields attract and concentrate unlimited prairie grasshoppers
  • alfalfa is cut earlier, more often, and frequently sprayed
  • there is almost nothing for the bees to work between alfalfa cuttings
  • limited water sources are sprayed to control West Nile Virus

I’m pondering not moving them. Rather I’ll leave them near town and next to the river. Maybe there’s more frequently moved clover and more plant diversity there. At least they would be away from the serious spraying.

-bwguy