Swarm #8 was picked up in Salinas. The swarm is small consisting of three medium frames of bees and a very large queen. The swarm was put in a 5 frame medium nuc set in hive location W2.
While at the W yard I peeked into the two hives with queens that I raised this year, both are laying very well with many frames of sealed brood. The brood should start emerging in 4 days. Both hives barely have enough bees to cover all the brood and the nights have been a little chilly with several cold fronts passing through. I hope I don’t lose any of the brood. The hive populations should start to explode in 4 days as the brood emerges so I will likely need to give them room in six days. The new queens seem to be laying so much better than the older queens that it is amazing. It is exciting to see queens that I raised doing so well.
Update: 5/22/14, Hive is queenless and was combined with W3
The Formic acid treatment is done and the mite Away Quick Strips were removed. None of the queens were lost but the treatment is very hard on the bees. The queens all stopped laying for several days and there is not open brood in any of the 7 hives. All but one of the hives has egg indicating that the queen started laying within the past three days. The one with no egg was already queen-less before treatment and now has sealed queen cells. Three of the seven hives had swarm cells and two splits was taken from each for a total of 6 more nucs with queen cells. The three had swarm cells the day of treatment that were all cut out so they continued to build them even in the acid environment. It will be interesting to see how these queens come out.
Swarm #7 was in a Pleasant Hill bait hive. The Swarm is large with 8 frames of bees and a laying queen. It was moved to Home Yard position 4 and a new empty bait hive set out in its place.
I treated 7 hives with formic acid in the form of MiteAway Quick Stripes. I was worried about queen loss as some have experienced so changed 6 of the bottom boards from 3/8 opening to 3/4 inch openings. on the two hives that I may be raising more queens from I also set back the second brood chamber 3/4 of an inch to add more ventilation. All hives were given a mite count between 0 and 20 days before the treatment which is how I determined that they required treatment. I used a treatment threshold of 2%. The mite count was as follows in percent bees with mites.
Date 4/6/14 H3 2.3%
Date 4/9/14 LR5 6.3%, LR12 5%
Date 4/16/14 HS4 2.3%, HS10 8.3%, HS14 2.6%, HS15 3.6%
My first round of 2014 queen rearing is complete. Out of 29 grafts I had 15 well formed queen cells. I installed cells in splits of various sizes as follows.
1 – deep (9 1/8) 8 frame hive.
4 – deep (9 1/8) 5 frame nucs.
2 – medium (6 5/8) 5 frame nucs.
3 – medium (6 5/8) 3 frame mating box.
I put two queen cells in one of the splits and the remaining 4 cells I allowed to hatch in queen cages in the cells builder hive for latter use. Four days after the virgin queens hatched into the cages I made up four queen mating boxes with bees from the cell builder and directly released the virgins into them. Unfortunately within a week all four queen mating boxes were killed by ants.
All of the nuc and larger splits now having laying queens but only one of the three queen mating boxes was successful in yielding a laying queen. I have combined all the queen mating boxes into a single 8 frame medium hive. That is a total of 8 successful queens. Not as good as I dreamed but I am pleased with the size and laying of the 8 queens that I produced.
What did I learn?
- The Argentine ants are terrible around here and hives must be over a minimum size to be able to defend themselves from them. When I made up the four mating boxes for the virgins I did not move the boxes to a new yard. Many of the bees were older than I thought and returned to their mother hive resulting boxes too weak to defend themselves. ALWAYS MOVE the splits and mating boxes that were made up to a new yard to keep them as strong as possible.
- The queen mating boxes that I built are made from a 10 frame medium depth body with two divider boards resulting in three, three frame mating chambers. Entrances to each chamber consists of a 3/8 or 7/16 inch hole. Additional ventilation is provided with a one inch hole with a screen stapled over it from the inside. The bees are confused by the screened ventilation hole and try to use it as an entrance but cannot get in. I noticed this on one of the chambers where I had put the ventilation hole too close to the entrance hole. I enlarged one of the screen holes to allow bees to enter at that point on that one chamber. This was the only queen mating box that produced a queen so it is possible that the queens were not able to find the entrance on the other two. In other words my mating box design is poor and needs to be redesigned or modified.
- The use of either deep or medium 5 frame nucs works very well in mating queens and can also serve as increases if desired. I think I will use the medium 5 frame nucs as my mating box in the future. The problem is they take twice as many bees and brood as the three frame box. Then again that is probably why the ants are not such a problem for them.
Cought another swarm in a bait hive in Concord. It has a laying queen and about 4 frames of bees. Installed it in Lewis Rd position 13.
Collected at Calabasas Elementary School near Watsonville. The swarm was about 2.5 lbs. on a chain link fence. The Swarm was not too difficult to collect. I simply scrapped some of the bees into a cardboard box by working one of the boxes flaps under the bees to get them started in. Get enough into the box so they fan and indicate to the others that the box is a good place to be then the rest will started to crawl into it on their own. Bees are not hard to get to move into a box especially if you use a box that you have used before as they smell that bees have been there before. They will move in faster with some light brushing with a bee brush. Once they are in the box, tape it closed so the bees cannot get out and take it home. Don’t leave them in too long or they will over heat.
When you get them home, remove a few frames from the hive you are putting them into, open cardboard box and dump them in. I installed these into a hive at my High Ground Organic Farm yard at position #8 on Lewis Rd.
Swarm #4, Cought in a bait hive in Concord. They were trapped in the same location as Swarm #1. The hive has about 4 1/2 frames of bee a laying queen and sealed brood. That means that the swarm entered the bait hive within a couple of days of setting it. I moved the hive to my Home yard and setup a new bait hive.
I inspected the remaining four queen cells in the cell builder hive and found that they had hatched nicely into queen cages as planned. They look very good. I made four queen mating nucs adding one frame partially filled with capped brood and one frame with honey and pollen to each nuc from the cell builder and then releasing a queen into each nuc. Since the nucs were made up from the cell builder they readily accepted the queens directly.