I was told by the bee provider I should check on the queen to see if shes been freed within a few days. The workers have to eat through a candy plug to free her and I was there to check to see if that happened or how close they were. Also it was time again to check on their sugar water levels. So a little bit of maintenance was needed onsite on the hives. I was also quite curious the progress that was made in the last few days since installing the packages.
Using my bee suit I bought from the provider it gives me alot more confidence working with them. So far no stings and looking to keep it that way.
I suit up by taking my boots off, I always wear long boots with the outfit so I can tuck them in. Once my boots are off I will pull on the pants as its a one piece outfit.
The first hive up to check on is the weaker one, when I opened it there was just a small amount of activity at the base of the hive by where the queen is.
I pull out the frame where the queen container is attached to, and check on the candy plug. Looks like there has been little to no progress in chewing through it. So I made the decision to help out this queen and remove the quark from the other side of the container.
Being careful she did not escape outside of the hive, I held my gloved finger over the hole to make sure she did not try to escape. Putting the frame back in the box I closed it all up and I will wait a few days and check on her in the bee hive.
Opening the stronger hive there was alot more activity. Almost every frame had bees on it and it looks like it was doing good compared to the other hive.
Animated Gif of me removing the frame with the queen attached.
Removing the frame with the queen container I was impressed by how cooperative the bees were with me. They moved as I went to pick it up. The frame I pulled up already had some drawn out comb on it.. Looks like they have been putting my waxed trays to use.
When I inspected the container on this hive things looked quite different. Yes she was still trapped as well, but there was substantial progress made in chewing through the candied plug. They were about 3/4 of the way through.
Animated Gif of me holding up tray, comb can be seen on it.
Due to the queen being just about freed by the workers I decided to leave her as is in there and check back in a couple days to see if shes completely free by then.
I returned the frame to the bee hive and put the top feeder back on as quick as possible so not too many bees left the box.
Where I left the top feeder when doing the inspection was now covered with bees. They came out of the feeder while I was working on the hive through the bottom.
Next up was replacing the entrance reducers, these are used to help new or struggling hives to make the opening smaller so less guard bees need to watch over the entrance. Seeing my custom wire entrance reducer was not working, they were crawling under it there needed to be a change.
I started with the weaker hive, since the stronger one just got opened and wanted them to calm down a little.
Removing the wire guard and then scooped out the dead bees that were at the entrance. Looks like they were not doing a great job removing them. Just used my screw driver and very shallowly scooped them out.
The replacement reducer has two settings to it.. A small and large opening. I will use the small opening since the hive is struggling and its new.
Putting it in requires me to lift the box a little and then it pops in without much issue. Putting it in the other box will be harder with all the traffic at the entrance.
Animated Gif of bees getting through and under old entrance reducer.
Observing the old reducer they could crawl right through the holes and under the screen so it was not doing so great. Also I found the staples to constantly loosen or fall out so it was not working so well.
With the new reducer installed I observed the hive and checked to see how well they would guard the opening.
I made a decision to reduce the size again to just a small opening. I went with this decision since the hive is new, though I will observe and change as needed.
Where I set the sugar water feeder earlier had bees drinking the drops of sugar water from the table.
I might have crushed one when placing the feeder on the table but most that were on the table quickly returned to the hive.
Glad to see the returning bees have pollen collected, I see it on their legs. They will add it to the hive and be ready to work with the queen once she has been freed.
The other weaker hive, I just hope now the queen is free. They will start building out comb as well so the queen can start laying and increase that bee population. I only saw maybe a few hundred bees in that box, compared to the many thousands I saw in the more strong beehive.
Wrapping up for the day I discuss my findings and just go over the how my objectives went. Taking off my suit is a little easier but still need to be very careful with it. A single rip could spell disaster for me when a bee or many get inside so I am trying to take good care of it. Wearing a heat helps alot too, but I also find a face mask works well for covering my nose. And during this spring time when my allergies are bad I am glad to have the mask. Sneezing in the bee suit really sucks... lol