I worked on my Honey extractor a few hours this weekend and I have some pictures. I am about half done. I got into a situation where the bolts holding the bottom to the trash can are not waterproof and I decided to use some silicon caulk to seal it, but Erica doesn’t want any honey exposed to the chemicals so I am going to pick the caulk all out. I may have to rebuild it with rubber gaskets.
The bees are all doing well except for Martha.
The new hives, Ethel and Justine, installed on April 9, are doing very well. They are very enthusiastic with huge numbers of bees. I haven’t opened them since the smoking I gave them on May 1st, but I am assuming that the queens are thriving. A honey bee in the summer lives 28 to 35 days so anything that was in the box when I installed them are now dead. These all have to be new bees.
Connie is equally exuberant and I need to split her soon. She is half Russian, and she will want to swarm unless I split her.
Martha, I think, reacted badly to the smoking I did on May 1. A few days later they were all bearding the front of the hive and I think they absconded. There are lots of bees left, but I peeked inside and the hive is not that full. I am hoping that Martha will force a queen and in a few weeks recover. I have been feeding her sugar syrup. I will suit up one of these nights after work and open Martha for a good look at her insides.
My plans are to finish the honey extractor and pull the top super from Connie, which weighs about 30 pounds with capped honey (left over from last year). I’ll pull any capped frames from the super under that and any capped honey frames from the deep box under that. I will also check the new hives, Ethel and Justine, for capped honey.
My goal has been to split Connie on Memorial day, but I may do it next weekend. She is way too successful not to swarm, so I want to beat her to it.
This will be a simple walkway split.
1) I will set up an empty hive and base right next to her. I’ll make a foundation the same height as Connie’s. I’ll loosen all the boxes with the hive tool.
2) I will take off the supers and replace the cover.
3) I’ll smoke the top of the hive to drive the queen downstairs. I’ll also knock on the lid and scare them all downstairs. Over the winter and into the Spring, the hive usually moves to the top box and hangs out there. I’ll put in the entrance blocker to try to keep the swirling bees to a minimum.
4). I’ll quickly put the second story deep body, full of brood, but without the queen, onto the empty body.
5) I’ll lift the bottom body of the original hive, hopefully with the queen, and put it on an empty deep and move the pair onto the old base. (If the hive is too heavy, I might leave it where it is and put the empty deep on top.)
6) I’ll put the supers back on, and take out the entrance blocks. If the bees are too active, I’ll wait a day to put the supers back.
What I want to accomplish is to move the active hive upstairs with an empty downstairs. All this room will let the queen think that there is no need to swarm. I want the old top box where the queen has been living and laying to the top of the new hive and move the old downstairs, hopefully with the queen, upstairs on the old hive position. I think that the smoke will drive the queen down to the bottom box, which is where hangs the tale.
Worst case, the bees will figure it all out, find the old queen and inhabit one hive. This is a tie for me as it is about the same as a swarm, but they new hive will be more roomy downstairs and they may not swarm.
If I don’t get the queen in the right box, this is the same situation, except there is a chance that the queen was laying eggs downstairs and I still might get a new queen.
The split might fail, but I’ll still have at least one good hive, unless the queen leaves in disgust, in which case there is still brood in at least one of the boxes for a queen.
I am hoping that there will be swarm cells hanging off the bottom of the frames so that the new queen will appear fast. I don’t want to crush them, though when I move the boxes.