Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Bee Log 60: June 15, 2011
This is our Seattle Urban Honey logo on a sign at the farmers' market last summer. Our bees are not yet producing honey that we can take this summer. This might delay the July 1 date that we had hoped would be the debut of this season's honey.
Our bees are hungry. The blackberry bushes are just about to bloom as are the locust trees but they must be waiting for a nice day before they open. The maple and chestnut are finished blooming. The weather is still pretty cool with clouds, wind and some rain so the bees are stuck at home a good bit of the time. We looked through all of the hives last weekend and found that they all needed feeding because they were in danger of starvation. The population is booming in all hives so lack of feed is not a good thing. We did not have honey supers on any hives except the one surviving hive from last summer(in a yard in Bellevue).
We decided that since that hive is so populous and because it really needs feed that we would take this time to make a three way split. (You can't feed bees when there is a danger that the syrup might get stored as honey for human consumption. That is one of the ways that beekeepers cheat.) The bees were filling 4 western sized (medium)boxes. A fifth honey super (honey storage box) was pretty much untouched by the bees. We bought 2 new queens from Corky Luster Of Ballard Honey. We went through the hive and found the old queen in the third box from the bottom. She is big and beautiful. We set her aside along with a box full of bees and brood. She was going to go back on the old hive site. The rest of the hive was split into two roughly equal boxes of brood and bees. There was NO HONEY to divide up. Each box of bees got a second almost empty box on top and a feeder full of 2 gallons of sugar water (1:1 this time of year). The two new hives got a new queen inserted in a little screened box with a hard candy plug. By the time the bees eat the candy plug, they should be used to the new queen's scent. The queen will get fed through the screen.
The owner of the property had been asking for more bees. He had 4 hives last year, 3 of which died so he is happy to see more hives. This split will limit the honey that we could have gotten from such a vigorous hive but at the same time we were worried about the lack of honey and starvation. We should get three good hives and maybe some honey.