Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Mirror Hive, Part 1

I made some adjustments to the Eastern Stand to get it to its final configuration.  I hived the bees from the older double nuc into Westerly, and installed a shiny, new, double deep hive in its place.  This hive is the Mirror Hive, so named because its configuration matches exactly or closely what I have recommended to our soon-to-be beekeepers.

The Mirror Hive is meant to be a learning tool for those clients of DC Honeybees.  The equipment is the same, the bee package and breed is the same, and the locations are similar.  I will be posting regular updates about the progress of the Mirror Hive including comb building progress, adding supers, and detecting the honey flow in our area.  Our new beekeepers can play along and use us as a proxy for their own progress and solutions.  Don't mind those bees on the outside of this box...they are just curious.  The real installation occurs April 16.

While up on the roof I got a chance to clean up a very disorganized apiary with loose frames, boxes, and shims scattered everywhere.  The bees were very active today, including the bees we hived on March 26th.

Our problem hive, now known as Westerly, remains very defensive, even 20 feet away from the hive.  This hive is headed by a Bee Weaver queen.  There has been talk on the forums of others having similar experiences, perhaps because these queens come from Africanized Honey Bee territory.
I'm going to let the next brood cycle play out...but if her kin remain difficult I will remove her to a nuc and replace the hive with a new queen.  There is no point in having one of what will be seven hives driving a bad experience.  The good news is the colony has taken to their new, expanded home.

Newport and Narragansett are also thriving.  I was getting bored with the fact that they were only using the bottom box and refusing to build out and expand their hive to the upper boxes.
 I solved this yesterday by removing several brood and honey frames and transferring them to the top box, checkerboard the frames with un-drawn foundationless frames.  As long as the weather does not throw anymore freezing temperature our way, I think this move will prove fruitful in expanding the hive and giving our queens some more space to lay.

 Finally, our other new package is thriving too.  I hived these in a homemade 6-frame deep nuc, which they have nearly completely built out with foundationless comb.  Next week I will have to add a second box to it to give the girls room to expand.

So what does the future hold for the rooftop?  I am expecting one more package, from Rossman's, but not sure when to expect that.  And there is the installation of the Mirror Hive.  That will bring my total to seven hives on the roof.

A little excessive, don't you think, for a Georgetown townhouse?