Thursday, August 11, 2011

Adding a Honey Super To Church of the Pilgrims

My great camera is away for the summer up in Rhode Island, so this IPhone picture will have to suffice to show the current condition of the two hives at the Church.  The hive on the left (Russians, installed from a package this April) has blossomed into a large and mature colony.  I took out the internal feeder, replaced it with two undrawn frames, and stacked a honey super on top.

I know it is late in the season for this but the bees in my rooftop continue to bring in modest amounts of nectar from local sources, so this is a great experiment.  If it works out, we will have proven the validity that urban beekeeping has the potential to generate significant honey, even more perhaps than suburban hives.  There is also a healthy fall flow in the District so in any case the super will be filled with some amount of honey prior to winter, a better food source for them than sugar.

Remember the swarm from as few weeks back at the church?:
Upon further inspection of the hive on the right (Italians, installed in May from a package) was fundamentally weaker than I had last seen it when I added the second super.  I also looked for eggs and did not find any.  Conclusion:  This one is the hive that swarmed, and the queen they produced has either failed, died, or not begun laying yet.  None of these are positive scenarios.

To remedy, I have placed a frame of open brood from the Russian hive into the Italian hive.  In theory, they should create a new queen with the young larvae who will be laying again in about 18 days.  I will check on this hive again in another week and add a few additional frames of open brood again to keep its strength up.  There is some upside to the scenario:  The Italians concerned me for their ability to overwinter.  Using the Russian stock to create a new queen provides the opportunity to introduce some of the Russian's hygienic and winter-resistant traits to this hive.

Next steps: pollen patties on each hive and feed feed feed the Italians.

Update on Farm at Walker Jones Hives

We also added a honey super to the left hive (Italians, installed in May).  This hive, too, has been taking off (another data-point for a preference for Italians next season), in part to due to the vast amount of foraging opportunity at the Farm.  We will see if they begin to deposit nectar into this new space (we removed the internal feeder).  I know Farmer Sarah, the farm manager, with be tickled to get any honey out of this!
Farmer Sarah

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