Welcome to this week’s homestead update.
This week I started painting my new hive boxes. I stick to the traditional white paint to make these look like hives are thought to look. I know some beekeepers that don’t paint their hives at all. I’ve also seen beekeepers that paint their hives all different ways. Some are pink, purple, etc. Others have scenes or flowers painted on them. The bees really don’t care what color the hive is painted, but light colors are better than dark colors. I just use standard exterior paint. The goal is just to protect the outside of the hive from the elements. The bees will coat the inside with propalis to protect that.
We had a nice day this weekend and I decided to go into my hives. It was in the 60’s, so it was warm enough to manipulate the hives and pull frames to see what is going on. I started with the stronger hive. I was shocked to find that the top medium was almost completely full of capped “honey.” I quoted that because it is mostly sugar syrup in those cells, not honey made from nectar. But the biggest shock was that there was comb between the frames in each box. When I pulled the frames, it tore open some of these cells and left larvae laying on the top bars of the frames below. I have an e-mail over to my instructor to see if these would have been queen cells or drones. I’m hoping that since they were attached between frames that they are drones. I’m not ready to deal with a swarm.
This is a shot of the weaker hive, I put it here to show how much of the sugar cakes they ate. They are both doing very well. Since each of the hives had a full medium of “honey” I decided to pull the sugar cakes off of the hives. I also pulled off the spacers that I put on there to hold the baggies of sugar syrup. This hive didn’t have as much comb between the mediums, so there weren’t any torn cells or larvae in the bottom of the hive. I rotated the hive body boxes so the queen will work with the empty cells. I didn’t find the queen in either hive, but I did see small larvae in the cells, so the queen has laid eggs in the past 4 to 7 days.
I’ll let you guys know what the instructor tells me about the larvae. I certainly hope that she tells me that they were just drone cells. I do want to do some hive splits to make more hives, but I’m not ready to try that quite yet.
We also continue cleaning up the downed branches from the Winter. I had a couple of times last week where I could see how I could have injured myself with the saw. So I stopped by the local Ace Hardware and picked up a pair of Stihl chainsaw chaps. I used these for the first time this weekend. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they do not interfere with my range of motion. I hope that I never find out how well they work, but from what I’ve seen on YouTube, they will stop a chainsaw prior to cutting through the chaps.
That’s what happened on my homestead this week.