Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hive Inspections


As a small time side-line beekeeper I try to make it a point not to have more than 10 colonies. I’d even prefer having only eight. It takes a lot of work to tend each colony. Each hive could be inspected in a couple minutes, but to inspect them properly one should commit around ten minutes to each colony. One should look at every frame to see how the bees look. Are there visible mites? Are their wings nice and flat? Are there any eggs or capped brood on the frame? How is the ration of nectar, honey and pollen? How does the hive smell? Did you see the queen? Have they built any queen cells to replace the queen by swarming?

One needs to inspect their hives at least once every twelve days or things can go bad very quickly. If they are neglected they can cost the keeper colonies and the annual honey crops.

Though I started well within my desired bounds with eight colonies this spring I am now up to fifteen colonies. So instead of spending nearly an hour and a half inspecting hives I am now spending two and a half hours. It’s exhausting.

You may wonder how I end up with more hives through out the season. This is due to the bees natural instinct to split and grow a new colony elsewhere. Though I inspect my hives thoroughly I missed swarm cells in two hives and they swarmed. That got me two more colonies.

Other than that I get calls when swarms appear in peoples’ yards all around the county. Sometime I give them away and sometime I add bees without the queens to add to the population of a weak hive. As I said the management of it all can be very time consuming.

Tomorrow I will share the story of my latest acquisition from a farm in Brownsmead.

4 Comments:

Blogger Auntie said...

I just read about your brave heroics about collecting a swarm or two at the Ostman farm

6:46 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

Hmm... I didn't know you could put bees from one colony into another. I figured they would fight. Like celling a crip with a blood. Shows what I know.

7:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you ever "rent out" your hives to help pollinate large orchards and such?

11:38 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Auntie, Teresa is a gem to work with. Their farm is really taking shape.

Darev, you can, but one needs to have one colony in one box and the other colony in another box. We put down two sheets of newspaper on top of the lower box and then place the other colony box on top of the paper. They chew through it from both sides and by the time they break through they are used to the smells of the opposing team and they accept one another.

Anon, I've done some small local pollination contracts in the past, but not a large orchard. I like to place at least two colonies per acre and better with four per acre. That would only allow me to do five acres with the amount of full strength colonies I presently keep. If you need some pollinators for next year email me and I'll refer you to some of my friends that can do a job of any size.

5:04 AM  

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