2011-02-15 There's gold in them hills!

Adrian had discovered in a quick check that the "Tree Hive" in Mt. Evelyn was full up!
he also reported that there was bugger-all brood in the bottom box....
same thing happenend to me a few weeks ago.
Time to spring into action.
Bit of a beard out the front, it was a 30 degree day and some of the girls were cooling down out on the porch.
Some of the frames in this box are from Adrians folks old hives.
They had bees maybe 30  years ago, and they still had the bits.
Plastic frames, where you sandwich the foundation between, no wire, still in good nick.
Adrian had cleaned up the frames, put them through the dishwasher and back into service.
Some frames chock full....

Strangely, some of the frames in the top box had big sections of brood.
Had the queen somehow got into the top box?
That would explain why there was no brood in the bottom.
In the end we got 9 frames of honey out, a couple of them were a bit patchy and one had a bit of brood,
but we thought we'd try to spin just one side of these frames, instead of both.
Would the brood be damaged? I'd heard someone say that you could spin them when they had a bit of brood, you just don't uncap those bits, and take it easy.
We did the job in the kitchen, not as messy as I thought it was going to be.
A grub stuck it's head out of a tomato to check us out...
That's one happy beekeeper, and the new spinner.
12 litres of honey, all up, or 16 kilos. About 2 kilos per frame, or a kilo per side.
The ducks.
Dasher checks it out.
She was licking some of the spillings out of the grass, hope she don't get stung.
After we'd got the honey, we put the stickies and the other box back on.
While we were doing the extracting, the one remaining box was absolutely covered in bees.
Putting it back together was a bit tricky, and this time we made sure that the queen was in the bottom box...
...or at least we made sure she wasn't in the top box, because we didn't see her in person.
Massive overflow beard.
I was gonna call this entry "there's beards in them hillls"....

2011-02-14 All's well in Metropolis

Metropolis had been worrying me, I suspected that I had disease in there, after finding almost no brood and load of suspect looking pollen.
Goes to show how little I really know about these guys.

Front door is busy again.

The disassembeld boxes.
Top box was still almost empty, after harvest a couple of weeks ago
Middle box had 3 frames that were harvest-able,
(that is the ones I left in there when I harvested a month earlier) ,
and the rest was pretty much as before.
This is the empty queen cage, from when I poppped in a new Italian queen 2 weeks prior.
I was expecting to find her in the brood box somewhere, but no sign.
She should have been easy to find this time, she had a big white spot of paint on her arse.

Fair bit of brood here, glowing in the sunlight.
I found this weird trail in the brood - looks kinda like there is something tunnelling sideways through the brood....

...so I scraped it out, didn't find anything unusual,
and be-headed a few almost-bees in the process. dang.
Might  be some sort of grub in there, maybe wax moth?
No other sign of this anywhere else in the hive.
Also, I chiselled out some of the pollen, to check it out.
I tasted it, it had that kind of floral honey aroma and flavour, but no sweetness.
Lots of wax to spit out. People collect pollen to eat as a health supplement, apparently.
The same frame, full of good brood.
Lots of brood, eggs, grubs, pollen, the lot.
(the chiselled out pollen top left)

2011-02-05 Free the Bees

Having been thwarted in re-queening Baghdad, I decided to let the new queen go.
The weather had just been too nasty to go back into Baghdad, and on reflection, the old queen was doing fine.
This is pretty much a death sentence, letting the queen go, as she has no hive, her escorts are half-dead, no-one there to feed her, keep her warm, make her tea and scones.
And the back yard is full of spiders lately.
By now she had been in the cage for 5 days, I figured better to just let her out than let her die in the cage.
At least I'd have a chance to have a good look at her.
She staggered out of the un-capped cage, past a bunch of dead or dying escorts.
She went for the candy, had a good feed, then wandered around the table-top she was on.
She often stopped to preen her wings, and spent a lot of time massaging her abdomen with her back legs.
i guess she's full of eggs waiting to be laid.....

When she goes interstate, she chooses to fly australia post, and brings with her an entourage of 6 escorts, to play cards with in those lonely hours in transit lounges.
Four were now dead, one staggered out immediately and flew off...
... and this poor bugger escort had only 2 out of 4 wings left, and looked completely messed up.
She just found a quiet corner and died.
The last I saw of the queen. I watched her for about an hour.
Here she's hanging off an edge, rubbing her abdomen, which was twitching and throbbing the whole time...
just like Aliens.

I wandered off for a while, came back and she was gone.

2011-02-03 Regicide thwarted in Baghdad

I was requeening metropolis anyway, so I decided to do Baghdad as well.
It was a feral swarm that we'd gotten from the bee wrangler earlier, in October 2010.
Nothing wrong with their productivity, they were blazing away, but I thought I might as well re-queen this one as well, while I was in the mood.

Silly, really.

 Rima gave me a hand this time.

 One of the frames from the top box. Filling up!

 Really good looking brood, too.
As we were going through the bottom box, looking for the queen, a sudden down-pour of rain came out of nowhere. It was 25 degrees or so, and had been muggy all day, suddenly big fat drops of rain started splatting all over the opened-up brood chamber. Time to shut it down.
We packed up quickly.
A stay of execution for the queen.
Probably a good thing, anyway.

2010-02-02 The queen is dead. Long live the queen?

Metropolis was a worry, I thought about the lack of capped brood that I'd found, and decided that Metropolis needed re-queening.

The queen was only a year old, and had seemed strong and productive, but after harvest there had been a big drop in brood, so I ordered a couple of queens, including one for Baghdad.

They arrived on my desk at work the next day.
Queens come from Queensland, it seems. I tried the guy I got them from last time, but he didn't answer the phone (due to the floods? not sure), so Bob from Bobs Bees recommended another supplier.

They arrived the day before cyclone Yasi hit North Queensland.
Different cages this time, plastic instead of timber.
A couple of the escorts had died in each in transit, but the queens seemed OK.

It was a fine day, I opened up the hive for a good close look, after getting home from work.
Go through the hive thoroughly, kill the queen, put in the new one.

Propolis under the hive mat
Top box was starting to fill up again, slowly.
They had cleaned up the 'stickies', the frames I'd harvested that still had some honey and lots of sliced up and smashed comb.
Clean comb. Amazing how they tidy it up.
One of the outside frames, top box, very white.

middle box, also tidied up, some honey.
One of the older frames in the middle box, fairly empty, but you can see how the wax is darker from when it was used in the brood box, from layers of coccoons and wax.

One of the frames of honey that I left last time, still full-ish

All the pix from here on are from the brood chamber.
Quite a few bees, but not as many as before, I think.
Close up of one of the combs.
Some honey in the corners, and nectar.
Pollen bottom left. (???!)
This is the only frame in the whole thing (as well as the other side) that has any capped brood at all.
This is bad, pretty sure.

Typical frame.
Lots of pollen, bottom left?

This is the best shot I have of the brood, and it made me look back at the other photos of the 'pollen'.
Those grubs at top right, are they discoloured, is it just the light?
Is it pollen in those other photos, or is that diseased brood?
Have I got AFB in the hive?
I look back at the photos of what I thought was pollen, and wonder whether this whole hive is doomed?
If I'd thought about this when I had the box open, I should have stuck a match stick in one of these cells, to see if it was full of gooey diseased brood.....but I'll have to wait to do this, now.
I've only ever seen pictures of AFB.
They say it smeels bad, I can't remember any foul smell in there.
I've sent a sample of my honey from this hive to the DPI, who will tell me if I have AFB in there.
Hopefully I'm just being paranoid.....?
I wish I knew more about this beekeeping thing.
So anyway, I went through the brood box carefully twice, and couldn't find a queen.
I put the little queen cage in, hopefully they have eaten their way through the plug by now, and the queen is happily laying eggs in a disease-free hive....?
to be continued.....

2011-01-29 Metropolis and Baghdad inspections

I wanted to check Metropolis, it was 2 weeks after harvesting,
and at that time I didn't go through the hive,
we only stole the honey.
Simon gave me a hand...
In their cave, the bees were restless.....
All good in the upper boxes, but in the brood chamber was a bit of a worry.
At the time I didn't see any capped brood at all.
I reckon maybe the queen is dead?

This one is Baghdad
 I checked it out with dad the next day .
The top box was slowly filling up, most of the frames were drawn, and some capped honey in there.
This shot is of one of the brood frames from the bottom box, up against the sun.
Edis. Still waiting for the rent.