Thursday, September 2, 2010
My plan versus the bee plan
It seems the bees and I are not on the same page. I guess we're not reading the same books. Unbeknownst to me, my plan began unraveling when I reduced from 8 to 7 the number of frames in the 4th story of Galway.
By reducing the frames and spreading them equidistantly the bees were supposed to draw out the comb further in each frame to close the distance back to within 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch between frames. Bee space -- remember?
Well, I spread them and added a 5th story and when the bees drew most of that I reduced the frames in the 5th story and added a 6th story. It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago as I was readying for harvest that I went down in the hive and discovered the bees were operating with their own plans.
I had decided that I wanted to harvest the 4th story first -- it was the early summer honey that was produced from the millions of Bachelor Buttons in the meadow. From what I had read, Bachelor Button honey is a pinkish white honey and I really wanted to harvest some. So my plan was to bring the 4th story to the top of the hive and put the 6th story which had yet to be drawn into the 4th position -- a simple swap. That would make it easy to monitor the Bachelor Button honey and harvest it as soon as it was capped. Brilliant!
A couple of weeks ago I initiated the swap. When merely looking down into the 4th story from above everything looked good. The comb had been drawn out further just as my plan had called for. But when I removed the 4th story, there was brood comb and exposed brood all over the top bars of the 3rd story.
It seems the bees had drawn out the comb at the very top of the frames but they also built brood comb up in between the frames from the top bars of the 3rd story. Perhaps the 4th story frames were not hanging straight up and down in the hive body and there was more space in between the middle frames that allowed them to do this.
However they managed it, the lesson was not lost on me. I need to get down into the hive and examine individual frames and not just look down from above. I proceeded with my basic plan of swapping the 6th and 4th stories. And today I got back in the hive to see how things were going. Once again, the bees surprised me.
Much of the 6th story is full of capped honey but the center frames also have capped brood in the centers of each frame just as if they were down in the brood chamber. There must have been brood comb remaining in the 4th story when I moved it to the 6th story. So I'm giving up on my plan of harvesting supers full of honey and I will focus on harvesting frame by frame.
I may add a queen excluder between the 5th and 6th stories to let the brood hatch out and not have to worry about the queen continuing to use it for new brood.
Oh, and Clare. I decided a couple weeks ago to let Clare build its strength in preparation for winter. I put a feeder on it and have been feeding 1:1 syrup for the last few weeks. I'll change it to 2:1 in a few weeks. Its doing good but I've decided not to try and harvest anything from it this year.
Lastly, just in case you think I've been goofing off all of August, here's a sneak peek at the new website for selling honey that I may actually harvest someday: http://meadowlandshoney.com. If you look closely you'll also get a sneak peek at the label for that yet to be bottled honey.