With beautiful spring weather all weekend it was time on Saturday to move around some beehives. Among the incredible luck we had this winter was this hive not toppling over in some of the heavy storms that came and went. You can't quite tell in this photo just how hard the hive is listing to starboard. So I prepared the site with my favorite way to situate a hive - on cinder blocks set with a level and buried even with the ground. I also set them to face perfectly southward.
Next I set out the base. It has 2x4 legs attached to a Betterbee hive stand, all cedar. It stands 18" off the ground to keep it out of the reach of the many skunks that torment our neighborhood. Atop the stand is a screened bottom board. This is essential for ventilation and helps with controlling varroa mites.
Next up is a slatted bottom board. It gives the bees an enclosed place to cluster in the heat of summer and is purported to reduce their instinct to swarm. For reasons that are not clear to me it is also said to help with winter survival. All I know is we've made it though four winters with this setup and haven't lost a colony. I'm going to stick with what's working.
We set a hive body on the stand and took out one side of the nuc to begin the new hive on Willow Street. It had a decent supply of honey left.
We saw the queen. Can you see her? She's marked in blue (though the mark has rubbed off a bit.) I was hoping to see more brood but it's still early and Russian bees are known to start their spring buildup slowly. We'll keep an eye on it and we'll be feeding them syrup while they build out the comb. That should get the brood rearing running along.
I added a frame of pollen we had saved in the freezer last summer and three new frames that were wired up for the hive to build foundationless comb. (The nuc had built beautiful comb in this manner all last summer.)
For now the hive has a shallow shim on top where we will put ziplock snack bags full of sugar syrup so the hive can build wax well. And I polished up the copper top and put on a coat of paste wax.
- This is our new window hive so the kids, and the rest of us, can take a peek in at the bees from time to time without opening up the top and disturbing the nest.
Then Paul and I moved the main hive over to the newly leveled, south facing platform.
Then we moved the other four frame colony into the briefcase nuc so we could take it over to Paul's garden.
We found Paul's queen. If you can't see her in this photo you should not consider beekeeping.
The nuc box had a good number of bees still inside, so we tipped it against the new hive. Within an hour or so they had all crawled up and gone inside their new home.
Then it was over to Paul's to repopulate the hive that died out in January. Paul uses all medium depth hiveboxes but the nuc is on deep frames. So the bottom box is an empty shallow box to accommodate the extra depth. The four frame nuc goes in the center and the two frames on either side had honey and pollen on them.
Paul dumped in the straggler bees. His side of the nuc was thriving so I got a few of the stragglers left behind in the old nuc box. It's likely a lot of the field bees will return to the original site as well. But this colony will do just fine since it's surrounded by beautiful honey.
On top of the new colony went two full mediums of honey and Paul's freshly polished copper top. The bees had another beautiful day for flying on Sunday and now it looks like we're in for a few days of warm and wet weather. Paul's bees have honey galore and my own new hive will get sugar syrup so they can work on building the nest even if it's too rainy to fly.