It must have been 100 degrees in our bee suits in the bee yard yesterday afternoon! Paul and I were sweating miserably! I probably would have ditched the suite but I can't get over my paranoia of tics. With beads of sweat dripping down our faces and steam coming off the hives we did a complete inspection of each hive. I was a little surprised that there were not more bees hanging on the outside of the hives but it was hot and late afternoon so many of the bees were probably out foraging. You can a flurry of activity just outside of Patrick's Pollinate. I think we were both relieved after almost an hour of the beating sun and dripping sweat to get out of our gear and into an air conditioned car!
It was only a week ago that I went to the bee yard myself to inspect the hives. A week ago all was well in four of the hives. While I was gone Paula noted that something seemed off in Andrea's Girls, the brood was crusty and dry and the bees were not emerging. I noticed the same thing last week, poor if any brood and what was there was very dry and crusty. I suspected chalk brood disease but upon pulling out a dead bee from a cell chalk brood seemed unlikely. When I posted photos of the brood someone one mentioned "Entombed" bee or pollen which I had never heard of before. So of course I turn immediately to The Journal of Invertebrate Pathology and do some reading about this condition and I am suspicious. I will spare you the details of the problem but basically condition leads to the storage of pollen completely lacking in any nutritional value for the bees and they die. Today when we looked at Andrea's Girls the population is down to nothing. I took a frame from the hive to take to my hobby beekeepers meeting tonight to see if anyone has some insight or thoughts.
A week ago I found the Queen inside Katrina's Drone Den and hive was packed with brood. All seemed well. I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. Today when we looked inside Drone Den, no queen, not a speck of brood, literally not a speck and the population seemed significantly down. We found a few queen cells which makes me wonder if the girls swarmed. If so lets hope they are in the process of re-queening themselves. The hive was strong and worthy and I'd hate to loose them. I plan on going back later this week and looking for some evidence of a queen.
Colleen's Royal Ruckus is doing great. We couldn't find her Queen but she is there, even laying up in the super box so we ended up throwing on a queen excluder. I don't like queen excluders but I don't like brood in my honey supers either. The queen excluders prevent the Queen from going up while letting the workers pass. In my experience the workers don't like to pass the excluder either. Sometimes when you have fully drawn out comb above the excluder the workers are more likely to pass. So we are going to give it a try. The bees are packing nectar and capping off honey in the first super so we added a second box and are crossing our fingers.
The Turquoise Bee is thriving, albeit slowly! We ended up moving the second brood box from Andrea's Girls over to The Turquoise Bee so there are three brood boxes there now. I doubt these girls will produce much honey in the long run but we will probably add a super on early next week.
Patrick's Pollinator is doing great as well. The Queen has not moved up into the third brood box yet but it is a good healthy population and I am hoping for some honey out of these girls.
So overall a little sadness around Andrea's Girls and a little worry about Katrina's Drone Den. Bee Keeping is emotional business no way around it. Giddy joy fades to utter disappointment in a matter of days.