Monday, August 15, 2011

Rhode Island Apiary, Result of Two Breeds

These hives, which we have the rooftop of our house in Rhode Island, were installed in early May, one from a nuc (the Italians, the hive on the left), and one from a nuc made from our April Russian packages (on the right).  The behavioral differences between these hives is surprising.  More interesting is the philosophy I took in managing these hives (primarily because they are difficult to reach and the residents of this house are bee antagonists):  I LEFT THEM ALONE.  That was heeding my own advice to our new beekeepers, but not always easy to do especially given the number of installation failures we experienced with the April Russian packages that required quick and regular intervention.

These hives have thrived under my absent hand.  The only time I revisited the hives was to check on the syrup, which was only partially touched, and to put a second box on the Russian hive.

The Russian hive appeared from the ground to be active, but there was not a flurry of entrance trips nor did that hive experience any bearding in spite of some of the heat we have seen here.

On the other hand, the Italian hive built up very quickly, has considerable movement at the entrance, and the bees spend a lot of time bearding the exterior, as can be seen in the above photo.

I was expecting, therefore, when I popped the top to each that the Russian hive would have only modest build-out of the second box and no honey in the honey super while the Italian would be bursting and in need of another box.  I was correct on the second count and have ordered another box for them.  However I was pleased to see that the upper deep super in the Russian hive was active, built out (remember those are foundationless frames) 
This photo shows the upper deep super in the Russian hive showing lots of drawn comb; the lower box was equally thick with comb and bees.  Here is a close-up:

These Russians are still a smaller colony than the Italians as evidenced by the small number of bees visible on the top bars, and this may be due to the breed's tendency to reduce their numbers when foraging opportunities decrease.  The honey super was also seing some activity, but they have yet to draw out any comb.

I wish I was able to show you the interior of the Italian hive, but unfortunately the rain we were having caused them to be quite aggravated.  Not having a smoker or veil in RI, I relied on my bee-whispering abilities.  The Italians were having none of that and pinged me about 10 times until I made a hasty retreat through the bathroom window.

I need to buy some more Benedryl.

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