My strong hive had grown so much, it was getting overfilled. I noticed a change in the bees behavior and went to work giving them more space. We do this by doing a "split" basically taking half of the frames from the strong hive and moving them to an empty hive. I just happened to keep the beehive from the colony that did not make it much past a month. In this video we open the hive and take a look at the frames inside. We use a flashlight to try to see any young brood that is forming but not capped just yet. Also we look for queen cells or other signs of a new queen being made.
I am joined by my partner and we travel to the bee site in our coveralls. It was an overcast day and a little rainy, so the bees would not be so happy about us opening up the hive today. So alot of protection is needed. We wear boots, a full suit, gloves and put on an essential oil to keep ticks off of us that find our suits while out in the forest.
One of the hives has been turned since doing the split. It was suggested I do this so the bees do not get too confused and try to return to the old crowded hive. I have a helping hand today to check on the progress of the hives. Glad she could join me in opening them up.
We start off with the weaker hive that we moved the splits into. I did not see any activity at the front of the hive nor in the feeders. But there was activity once we opened up the hive, so good to see them sticking around.
Our goal for the day is to look for queen cells, or brood that is barely formed and about the size of a piece of rice. Using a flashlight I can shine it through the cells and see little black dots that are very young bees. This is important as the queen is formed this way, a young worker bee is fed royal jelly and then transform into the queen. Which is needed for the split so the new hive can increase its population.
One of us pulls out the frames and holds it still while the other uses the flashlight to try to find young brood.
It was harder than I thought, both in finding the brood and dealing with holding up heavy frames packed with honey.
Looking all over the frames I honestly did not spot any young brood, though this was my first time looking and maybe they were overlooked.
The hive beetle traps are working, found a dead one in the olive oil I put into these "beetle blasters" the honey bees will round up the beetles and make them fall into the olive oil and drown. The bees are too big to fit into the holes so only the beetles die. Those black dots are dead beetles.
We switch and I hold up the frames while my partner looks for brood with the flashlight. I am looking too from the other side as light will shine through the comb.
It was alot of fun taking a second look at the comb, and amazed they fixed so much of it. We could not find any spilled honey from the day where I removed cross comb, suggesting the bees cleaned it all up. Notice in the image above the piece of comb hanging off the bottom of the frame in the right corner. That could be a queen cell, which is good news.
Shining the flashlight helps alot, as its overcast and we are in a dense forest. So having some added light really helps us doing inspections.
Notice the rounded caps on the left side of the comb above? Those are cells where bees are generated. The flat capped sections are mostly honey but the rounded caps have bees inside forming. Notice more "peanuts" on the middle bottom of the frame? Again may be a queen cell, all they need is one to be successful. But colonies will make more than one in case the forming queen does not make it, or is a weak one.
This tool I bought really helps lift the frames out, they grip them frames and makes me less worried about dropping them. Which would make a huge mess, attracting predators and pissing off the bees.
Once the weak hive is fully inspected and what we think are queen cells forming, we are happy with the results and close it up. We move onto the strong hive to check to make sure they cleaned up the spilled honey as well.
The bees have sealed up the hive within two days of me opening it. So I had to carefully break the seal with my hive tool.
Pulling out frames from the strong hive, they are busy drawing out comb and using those new empty frames I supplied.
Indeed there was no spilled honey left and they cleaned it all up, and repaired most of the cut off cross comb. At this point its best to leave both hives closed for a few weeks and make sure the strong one fully recovers, and the weak hive has their queen form. It can take 2 weeks for a new queen to form so I will come back and open up the hives in a month or so and see if the population is growing. And maybe even spot the new queen if I am lucky.