We had a good day at the hives. We spent yesterday doing inventory to see what equipment we had and what we lacked. I'm glad we did as I hadn't calculated correctly, and we were short one deep brood box. I had ordered two to put the swarm in, but they weren't assembled yet. So we put them together and Dad painted them so they would be ready this morning.
We got everything loaded into the wagon and ready for the beeyard:
I've got to give credit where credit is due and say that Jim Gentry, our local beekeeper's association president sure knows what he's talking about when he told us about his guarenteed sure-fire super-duper smoker fuel - pine needles. I've had 100% success lighting and maintaining smoke and even refilling the smoker with pine needles. Only problem is that they do burn up pretty quickly. I tried adding some Brushy Mountain smoker fuel in with the pine needles this time, but I guess I didn't add enough, as I still had to refuel about half way through our work today.
The current status of the yard was two hives with packages and two hives with nucs. We started with the two hives with nucs, as they were going to take the most work. If you remember, we put the nucs into the hives on a rainy day, so we hadn't spent too much time on them. Also, we didn't have enough cinder blocks to get them to the same height as the other two hives. I was afraid we'd find hives full of wax moths and/or small hive beetles (SHBs). So today Dad had to move the hive, move the mat and cinder blocks around to a level spot, add two more blocks, and replace the hive. On the first hive, we changed the bottom board out because the one that was on there wasn't painted yet (we got behind in our painting chores). Then we added another brood box to the one deep that was already there. The bees had built comb up into the feeder, and the comb was full of honey (and some drone comb - no mites found - yea!) and it was full of bees. I didn't want to leave four feeders with comb and bees out in the yard, and I was afraid I'd kill a lot of bees if I tried to scrape the comb out of the feeders. So what I'm trying is to put the inner cover on top of the new brood box, then an empty super, then the feeder, then the telescoping cover. I've got all four hives set up this way. The reason I'm doing it this way is that I tried putting supers with extracted comb on top of the hive for the bees to clean out last year, and they filled the comb up with honey again. I'm not complaining, but it doesn't help to get the comb cleaned out. Supposedly, if you put an empty super between the inner cover and what you want the bees to clean, the space is supposed to fool them into thinking that it's outside the hive, and they need to bring the stuff back down into the hive.
Here's a picture of the comb in the feeder, and the top of the frames where the feeder was setting:
We got them all took care of and Dad decided it was a good time for him to mow since he was still suited up. So he got that done.
I really appreciate his doing all the work since I've still got a bad back (I go back to the doctor next week to get a release for work). He did a great job and I think he's enjoying this new hobby. It's great spending time with him.
Here's the hives after our inspection today - cinder blocks, double deeps, and feeders moved up for clean out. I did pull the bottoms out of the screened bottom boards (I had them in to prevent absconding during installation). I couldn't find any mites. I did see a couple of SHB larvae, but I couldn't find any in the hives, so hopefully the hives are strong enough to take care of the SHBs.