November 4

Due to high mite levels we gave the bees a oxalic acid dribble.

The temprature was around 4 degrees celcius and no bees were flying. We finally saw some honey in the bottom box. The hive wasn't as heavy as it was but still had some weight. Most of the bees seemed to be clustered towards the eastern side of the box, thus the cluster is a little more tall and narrow rather than the ideal fat and round. We did see some small amount of mold on the edges of the top bar cloth above the cluster. This suggested to me that their was a lot of moisture from the feed to evaporate and the insulation from the quilt may not be sufficiently effective at the very edge.

hive wrapped for winterPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We wrapped with tar paper and wished them luck.

September 20

Drones on the bottom board. No doubt they are being corralled out of the hive.

IMGP2554Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

No signs that any honey had been stored in the bottom box

IMGP2552Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

IMGP2548Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The middle box still had some honey, but no evidence they had replaced any of the honey they ate in August.

IMGP2545Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

IMGP2544Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The box we had moved to the top last time still only contained a few combs and a small amount of nectar. So we moved it back to the bottom, thinking the bees will move the nectar up and we will be able to remove this box in the future.

IMGP2546Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Only one comb in this box had been used for brood. The average cell size for seventeen cells in this photo seems to be around 5.26.

cell size of new comb from colony in 3rd year living on all natural combPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

This is the brood comb that was originally started in the box where every other frame contained nectar or honey.

September 29 - October 12

The bottom box was found empty and removed. The queen was spotted laying on the eastern edge of the top box. Looking at her gave me little doubt she is the same queen we saw in the spring and that no supercedure had taken place.

As the hive was too light for winter we began feeding. 4kg of sugar in a 2:1 syrup mix was given on each of the following days: Sept. 29, Oct. 3 and Oct. 5. On Oct. 5 there were still no signs of capped honey in the bottom box. By Oct. 10th they had only finished about half of the syrup provided during the last visit and I replaced it with another 2kg. By October 12 bees could still be seen drinking from the feeder but almost all of it was still there. The feeder was removed. The hive had gained a reasonable weight by this time, and the smell of ripening honey was present at the entrance. We added an entrance reducer.

August 11

The first signs of goldenrod are showing around the hive.

IMGP2065Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

IMGP2066Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The bottom box was fairly quiet.

IMGP2067Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Still empty frames in there.

IMGP2072Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Looks like the seed comb hatched out and they started using it for nectar and pollen.

IMGP2069Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The middle box looked the same as always with a few combs of brood.

IMGP2073Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The top box was loaded with capped honey and nectar

IMGP2079Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

August 29th

The goldenrod is really starting to light up the fields

IMGP2215Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

fields of goldenrodPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Of course lots of bees were visiting.

honeybee sipping on the goldenrodPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The bees had eaten into much of the necar and honey in the top box and significantly expanded their brood nest

look under the top bar clothPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Ate their honey stores and laid broodPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

brood combPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

IMGP2201Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Middle box still had a bit of brood and not much else:

look at warré brood boxPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

some broodPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The bottom box, hadn't changed much since the last visit. We moved it to the top thinking they might need a honey super

IMGP2215Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Loads of bees at the entrance.

busy hive entrancePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The bees keep surprising us, but I think we can see some logic in their behaviour and now have a better idea of what to expect next time.

July 24

The bottom box has filled out nicely and even contains a fair bit of honey.

IMGP1930Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

This was the least developed frame in the box:

IMGP1929Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Only one frame down here contained some eggs. The rest was all being used for stores.

In the top box a few combs had brood almost finishing to hatch out:

IMGP1931Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

and young larvae:

IMGP1932Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

I'm fairly certain this is the third round of brood raised by the split in fifty days. As it started with only young brood, this a fair bit shorter than you would expect in a hive with foundation. It looks like the natural comb is indeed speeding up bee development time. 

I placed the bottom box with the honey on top, took out the comb with the eggs to seed a new box on the bottom, leaving the top box with 7 combs, and removed the entrance reducer. As the population has expanded, hopefully they will start to work a larger brood nest and really kick their growth into high gear.

July 7th

A month is a long time in the beekeeping season to wait and hope that a colony has everything lined up to successfully re-queen themselves. Today was thirty-three days since we split the premiere hive. The point at which we really expect to have a newly mated queen.

We are pleased to report the many bees in this hive built a whole lot of comb since last week. I believe every single bar had some comb on it.

most if not all bars had some combPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

A few of the combs were a substantial size.

larger combPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

comb near the sidePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

They still had a few bits of comb crossing the bars that we had to spend some time twisting straight, but not too bad. Most of the comb was concentrated toward the entrance of the hive. We flipped some of the combs around, so the gaps remaining for the bees to fill in with comb alternated between the front and back of the hive, thus eliminating some of the potential space in which the bees could make comb across bars.

Most excitng of all is that we did see a good number of eggs on the new comb! It was hard to photograph, but we saw a good laying pattern with one egg per cell. So even though we didn't see her, we feel fairly confident we have a new queen and not a laying worker!

Eggs on new combPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We look forward to giving the new queen's hive a new name for the next inspection. Most of my concerns for this colony are relieved. I just hope they have enough free comb to not feel crowded. I did add, and seed a new box between the bottom box and the honey. The seed comb is the 'substantial comb' pictured above.

In the hive where we kept the old queen, they went from working on two frames to four in the bottom box. Mostly straight, but we made some minor adjustments.

June 30th

This was 26 days after we performed the split. Mostly we were checking that they still had space, if we saw signs of a laying queen that would have been a bonus, but we knew it could easily be another 2-7 days before that is expected to happen.

First we checked the hive which was left to raise a new queen. There were some ants in the quilt, so we shook out the contents (milkweed fluff, straw and sawdust). The top two boxes were loaded with honey and contained a crazy large quantity of bees. They had extended the thickness of the combs since previous checks to hold it all.

top box filled with honeyPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We had previously seen an egg in one of three queen cups on the shorter comb in the centre of this box. It was one of our best hopes for a new queen. This comb had been renovated significantly since the last check. While we were there we didn't see queen cells or cups, but this photo shows signs of at least one cup remaining.

still signs of a queen cupPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

There really were lots of bees. This type of split proved to be very effective in terms of leaving lots of workers that could make the most of the nectar flows.

So many bees in herePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We remain hopeful that a queen is mating and will lay shortly. We are also hopeful the great quantity of bees will be able to draw comb in a hurry. Though the top two boxes were pretty much filled with honey, they had just started building small bits of comb in the empty box we had left them. Many of them were built across bars, but as they were still small we were able to set them straight without damage.

bending comb straightPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Given the great number of bees in here, I feel they probably would have built comb faster and possibly be ready to store more honey if I had seeded the new box with an established comb. At any rate it will be interesting to see how things progress without me having pushed them along.

Next we checked on the hive we left with the old queen and nurse bees. Their population seemed to be coming along. They had at least three combs of capped brood and looking down from the top we could see about six combs with capped honey. Here is a quick scan of the combs from the bottom:

Last time we left them a bit of broken comb in frames leaning against the outside walls of an empty bottom box. The smaller bit of comb had been cleaned out. A More significant piece of comb had been extended up to the top bar of the frame and was now a perfectly movable and usable piece of comb. It still contained nectar and pollen. Hooray!

the bees attached the broken comb to the framePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

They had also started building comb on the frame beside it.

some new combPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We moved both of these to a more central position in the box.

Hopefully we will have two queens with room to lay at our next check. This location seems to be about a week behind the blooms of our city hives and I figure they should be experiencing a good flow for wax building. In the meantime we'll worry about the possibility of a laying worker developing and consider the possibility of having to merge them back together or buying a queen.

June 4th

We visited the bees today fully expecting to make a split. We hope to see what we can do as beekeepers without any chemical controls for mites, so we see a split as an opportunity to break the brood cycle and therefore mite reproduction. The inspiration for doing this comes from the rotation system.

There have been a few hot days, but the weather has been holding steady at around 20 celcius. Clover and black locust have been in bloom but I'm uncertain how much of either is in the area. The entrance had a lot of activity and the bees remained very calm as we opened the hive. The box we moved to the top, now the 4th box, had a fair bit going on now.

warre split 2013Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Lots of young fuzzy bees, some little patches of brood and decent amounts of pollen and nectar. We also spotted the queen (The first time in this hive since last summer). She was looking big and beautiful. This was mighty convenient as we needed to know where she was for this split.

Found the queen! Warre split 2013Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

So we set this box aside, and proceeded to check if any new queens had been started in the queen cups we spotted last time. The 3rd box appeared to have one of a handful of cups with an egg (albeit somewhat off center in the cell). We believe we saw two queen eggs in the 2nd box, but for some reason had trouble locating them again after a more complete check of the combs. Good amount of stores and brood in these boxes too. The bottom box remained untouched.

Solid brood. Warre split 2013Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-ShareAlike License

warre split 2013Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We felt confident that we could go ahead with the split but that is when things got a little messy. We had the 2nd box placed on its side from trying to double check the queen eggs, and one comb in the box that had been built with a large gap down the center broke in half. The half that broke off had two queen cups, but we couldn't verify if they were ones with eggs.

So we moved the box with the old queen and the empty bottom box seval meters away to form a new colony. We placed the broken comb of honey and pollen resting on the side of the empty bottom box and added an entrance reducer. We gave the old colony a new empty box and will have to wait and see if they are able to make a new queen.

May 26th

A sunny day around 20 Celsius and the entrance was bustling with activity. Some deep red pollen from horse chestnut as well as a pale yellow pollen coming into the hive. The red pollen can be seen at the very begining of this video:

There appeared to be some backfilling going on. The top box is steadily filling up with honey and the middle box had large quantities of nectar and pollen mixed in with the brood.

Hive getting congestedPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

They have finally moved into the bottom box.

Hive getting congestedPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

What we hadn't previously noted was that the majority of the bottom box is large sized honey comb, as a result this box is being used for nectar not brood despite its location on the bottom of the hive and some darkness on the comb.

Hive getting congestedPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

There were a good number of queen cups scattered around the top two boxes.

Hive getting congestedPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We're itching to split this hive, but decided to wait and see if we get an egg in a queen cup soon. As the bottom box seems to be preferred by the bees for honey, we moved it to the top, and added a new box to the bottom for them to start building. We're not too sure how quickly they will start building comb, but we don't expect it will be fast enough to keep up with the demand for proper laying space. In an ideal world we'll have a few fresh combs started and some developing queens in a week or so that we can turn into two hives.

We do see signs of chalk brood here and there, but not much. This is a pretty neat and tidy hive. Not many mites or anything else on the bottom board.

Along with the new box I also swaped in one of my new bottom boards and removed the entrance reducer (In the video at the top of the page you can see that the bees are still returning mostly to the far right).

Spring has finally arrived. Several days of warm weather have brought out the dandelions, weeping willows, the first maples and I noticed one strawberry flower in front of the hive. Good amount of activity at the entrance. Bees were bringing back bright orange pollen.

A closer look above the hive entrance showed signs of bee poo. This was here before we took the winter solar wrap off. Bees were venturing between the box and the wrap to do their business. It seems like a small amount and hasn't increased since the last visit so I won't worry too much about it.

Dysentry under the winter wrap?Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

A strong buzz of disaproval as we removed the top box, but the colony displayed its typically placid nature for the remainder of the inspection.

The top box contained two combs of capped honey and at least a few frames with some capped brood.

top boxPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The middle box also had a couple combs of honey, and at least 4-5 combs with plenty of capped brood, eggs, larvae.

middle boxPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

There were gaps here and there in the capped brood, which were all full with nectar, pollen or eggs.

gaps in the laying patternPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We did spot some some odd critters nestled around one top bar. They seem to have moulted out of a stripped 'skin', which doesn't look quite like what we'd expect from wax moth or small hive beetle.

odd larvaePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The bottom box didn't seem to have much going on other than small amounts of pollen in the comb I removed.

random cells of pollen in the bottom boxPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The bottom board was full of all kinds of the expected things after winter. There were a few more dead bees than shown in the photo, but it seems they must have been able to clear out many bodies themselves through the long narrow entrance reducer I used.

bottom boardPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

They seem to be building up steadily and should really get going in the next week or two as the small apple orchard on the other side of the field comes into bloom.

Today was our first opportunity to see our bees since last October. We also wanted to move them out to a new location. We'd been borrowing space from a generous beekeeper friend while we secured a location of our own.

As they were a rather heavy strong colony going into winter, I expected them to make it through. I had, however, spent a good deal of time worrying that the normal buildup of dead winter bees or snow may have blocked off the small winter entrances I had left them causing the trapped bees to suffocate. I left them a few openings of about (~6.5-7mm)

entrance reducerPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

I didn't hear any buzzing through the thick walls, but a look in the observation widow in the top box showed bees running around out of cluster despite the cool and wet weather. The high for the day was 7 degrees celcius. Hooray they survived!

warré window after winterPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The hive still had a fairly reasonable weight, the bottom box was light, and though I could lift the top two boxes on my own, it was not with great ease. Most, but not all, of what little comb I caught a peak of, had been uncapped. With cool temptrature and rain in the forcast for weeks it does make me wonder if they will need extra food before the flowers start to flow.

Next we prepared the move. We ran a wire between the first and second box to separate the comb and quickly placed screened boards between them. A few bees came out from the bottom box to show their disapproval with this intrusion. A little different than the calm relaxed disposition they displayed all the previous summer. Another screened board on top, duct tape to seal any gaps and then we used ratchet straps to keep the different hive sections tight together.

Getting ready to seperate the parts for transportPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We loaded them into the back with combs facing parallel the wheels, and slightly propped up the two box stack with the vent board on the bottom for a little extra ventilation for the bees.

Bee hive packed into trunkPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

ratchet straps and venilated cover for transporting bee hivePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

For some reason the bottom box had many more concerned bees coming up to the vent holes. Perhaps there were more bees in that box? Maybe the queen was in the other boxes and they were more distressed?

Just as we were ready to unload a heavy downpour commenced. Our car subsequently got stuck in the muddy road. Bees tend to be in the hive on days like this, but there are certainly drawbacks to hive work on rainy days. Sun is certainly our preference.

Stuck in the farm field in the rainPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

After a little waiting we had them set up in their new home:

Bees all set up in the new homePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We mistakenly rotated the orientation of the top two boxed in regards to the bottom box 180 degrees. 🙁 hope that doesn't confuse them too much. We took out the entrance reducer and tried to scrape out the bottom board. The number of dead bees didn't appear to be excessive. We did observe a fair number of mites in the debris.