A Wild and Crazy Weekend – Bee Update 7/17-19

I’m going to break this into two parts; the story of what I learned, and my notes for the future.

It all started out great. I had family coming up for the weekend so I hoped to share the honey extraction experience with my nieces and nephews.

On Wednesday, I went to the other Shoreview hive to check on things and take some honey off the large hive. While the honey super still had some capping to be done, the deep box above it was nearly completely capped and ready.

To take honey, I have a separate deep box set aside about ten feet away, with a bottom and top lid. I take a frame out of the hive, shake and brush the bees off, then walk it over and shut it in the separate deep. I do this until all of the honey is in the box, hoping to keep as many bees out as possible. This box was between 60-80 lbs., so I was grateful to have some help.

After heading back to my house, I was able to retrieve 12 medium frames off my main hive. I set them inside and waited for family to come over on Friday.

It was a great time. The older nieces and nephews were able to uncap the frames while my sister ran the extractor. This was extracting a lot more honey at once than we did last year. This meant the filters got clogged more frequently, slowing everything down.

After we were able to get through all the frames, the question was, what do I do with the empty frames? They still had a bit of honey in them, so I could either give them to the bees to clean out, or try to find a place to keep them without the bees finding it.

Well, I made the now regrettable decision of setting the frames and boxes out by the hives for them to clean out. After a few minutes, the bees had taken over.

I thought this was fine, but when I saw the bees were also robbing each other, I decided to empty the frames of bees and put them on a hive. This way, instead of it being a free for all, a hive would be able to protect it. Thinking back, I believe this is actually what I had done last year.

Well, that worked pretty well, but the robbing continued in the hives. I added entrance reducers or completely shut off the bottom entrance. The bees weren’t thrilled about this, but it left just a single, small entrance with the Vivaldi Board on top. This kept the robbing and killing to a minimum.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end. As I headed to the garage to, I noticed my shed had bees flying around it and it looked as though there were some inside. I kept it shut, hoping that would be the end of it.

To give background, we’ve had the shed since May 1st (Beckham’s birthday) and we had been storing out bikes and my bee boxes in it. Over the last few weeks, to make more room for the queens to lay, I’ve been taking extra frames of honey off of the hives and storing them in the shed to hold onto until the fall, when they will need it for the winter. Until Friday, they had left the shed alone.

Saturday I noticed a few more bees flying around the shed before I had to leave for my brothers. When I got home, this is what I saw.

Yes, those are bees in the windows.

Well, once I was finally able to open it, there were thousands of bees hovering around inside and outside. They had found ways in and were attacking the frames of nectar and honey that I was storing. I panicked a bit, but eventually landed on doing the same thing as the day before. I took the frames out of the shed, shook them off and put them on top of the hives. Again, it worked well enough, but my shed had to be completely evacuated. I left it open a bit so the bees could escape, while also filling the gaps with screen so they can’t get back in.

This morning, after the storm last night, there were a handful in the shed, so I decided kept it closed for the first part of the day. Knowing there wasn’t anything in there that the bees would want, I ended up opening it up completely and it worked! Tonight there were zero bees and I was able to move back in. Really hoping this is the beginning to things getting back to normal.

Oh yeah, then this! Over 6.5 gallons of honey, more than I got all of last year. I hope to have that ready for sale soon!

My notes:

Shoreview Hive: Both Nucs had queens, but neither was particularly strong. The queen on the left I couldn’t find, but she had laid plenty of eggs. I actually marked the queen on the right before eventually pinching (killing) her. She had laid eggs randomly and some of them were never capped. This may have been because of disease or, more likely, a lack of workers to do the job. Either way, I pinched her and added two frames, one with eggs in hopes of them producing a new queen, and another of brood. I then shook two frames of nurse bees in to make sure it had enough to do the work.

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