Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Inspection with Mr. Waller

Mr. Waller starting the inspection.
Yesterday was our inspection with Mr. Waller. He lives in the area and happens to be one of the WI State Apiary Inspectors. If you recall, I called him and we set up the inspection because A. and I believed the Yellow Triangle hive to be queenless and thought the Blue Triangle hive had a crappy queen. Turns out we are 1 for 2.

First off let me express how grateful I am that Mr. Waller was able to come out to look at the hives on pretty short notice. He’s a busy guy and he really knows his stuff. It was very enlightening for me to watch someone else with so much experience go through our hives and reaffirm what I thought was good and show me some other things I can do to make the colonies better. It was also amazing to watch him swing the supers off the hive like they didn’t weigh anything. The honey supers are small but they are pretty heavy. No way can I swing two supers around like that. I have a hard enough time moving one around at a time. Just incredible!
He just whipped both of those supers off the hive
in one fell swoop!

Without further ado, here are the results of the inspection:

The Blue Triangle hive does indeed have a crappy queen. However, Mr. Waller believes that it’s not a matter of poor genetics but more likely a matter of her not having mated well. We have several options on how to deal with this. Since the genetics don’t seem to be in question we have a good chance at getting a good queen if we kill the current queen and let the hive make a new one. Another way to go would be to order a new mated queen and then requeen the hive with the new queen. A third direction would be to keep this queen through the winter and then requeen in the spring by either purchasing a new one or letting the hive make a new one then. Decisions, decisions….

Remember I said we were 1 for 2? That’s right, excellent news! The Yellow Triangle hive is not queenless! Either the colony made a new queen and she started laying over the weekend or more likely, I just missed seeing the eggs on the last inspection. They can be really hard to see in the dark comb. Either way, it didn’t take Mr. Waller very long to spot both eggs and brood so we’re good! Yay!

Can't see them but there is brood in this frame! Yay!
Now back to one of our other issues. Both of our hives are almost honey bound. Mr. Waller was quite impressed with the amount of honey in our hives and suggested that we spin out some of the frames as soon as possible so that our queens have somewhere to lay eggs. In the mean time he reversed some of the frames (turned them 180 degrees so that the empty side of the frame is now in the center of the hive) and he swapped some of the frames between hives so that the busier hive has more stuff to work on. Thankfully, the Dunn County Bee Club (which we joined this year) has a club extractor that we can rent time on to spin out some of our frames and I’m currently working towards getting an appointment set up. Also, my brother-in-law’s father used to keep bees and mentioned at my niece's birthday party that he still has the extractor and we could pick it up and use it. So I’m working on that too. Time to read up on extracting...

Honey, honey everywhere!
Mr. Waller also told us that I’ve got the honey supers set up wrong. Since we’re working on drawing out blank foundation, I should have left all 10 frames in the supers rather than taking one out. This would explain why my honey supers look all wonky. They had too much space and drew some frames way out and left others blank. We were able to fix the supers that we put on recently and Mr. Waller suggested that we harvest the 1st supers which are basically full up. In other words, we have a lot of honey!

The only slightly dim spot in the whole situation is that we scratched open some drone brood and discovered that we’re going to need to treat for varroa mites this fall. Not that we weren’t expecting to do that anyway really but it’s still a tiny bit disappointing to have it confirmed this early in the year. Oh well, chin up.

So there you have it. We’re sitting in a good spot. We have a few decisions to make and some “chores” to do but I’m happy with where our hives are at. See you next time!
A happy inspector makes for a happy beekeeper! Thanks for coming to inspect
the hives Mr. Waller!

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