Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bread For The City Hives Taking Off (FINALLY!)

 Two of our 51 April installs ended up at Bread For The City, an organization with the mission "to provide vulnerable residents of Washington, DC, with comprehensive services, including food, clothing, medical care, and legal and social services, in an atmosphere of dignity and respect. We recognize that all people share a common humanity, and that all are responsible to themselves and to society as a whole."

They had a large renovation and construction project that ended this spring, and one of its new additions was a rooftop garden on which they grow all sorts of veggies.  We had hoped to improve their yield and add honeybees to their educational component by partnering with them and installing two hive.

The bees, however, had other plans.  As has happened with about 25 percent of the Russian hives we installed, these colonies failed to take firm hold.  Each was requeened at least once, and foulbrood was suspected as an ailment of one hive.  It was very frustrating (and expensive) to keep these hives on life support.

To put it all to bed we started over.  In late May we installed a brand new package of Italians into the left hive.  While it began slowly, they are doing very well now, with about 60 percent of the comb built out:
Those are pollen patties on the top bars...a supplement that is meant to improve brood production and boost the hive population.  We also fed these bees some fresh syrup in hive top feeders, oddly they do not seem too interested in it, leaving it effectively untouched.  They may be getting enough nectar from the rooftop garden and other sources.

The right hand hive has been the biggest problem and thus two weeks ago I installed a nuc that I had nurtured to extreme strength on my rooftop.  Here is how it looks today:

Pretty nice, huh?  Looks even better than the package we installed, with about 70 percent of the comb now built out.

We will continue to monitor these hives and feed them regularly.  If I can't get a second box on them in 3 weeks I'll be crestfallen.

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