Friday, May 14, 2010

HIVE INSPECTION #2: Good and not so good

Doing the hive inspection this time around was much easier than the first. I was so much less nervous so it made for a easy and enjoyable time. BUT... something isn't right with my hive. We just came through a cold snap of about 1 week with lots of rain and wind so I'm not sure if that would have anything to do with it but I believe my queen is dead. Did I kill her in the first inspection somehow? I have no idea.

In the first inspection things looked like they were suppose to look. Lots of brood (eggs and larvae) and one side of a frame even had capped brood. Ok wait, I just realized I couldn't have killed the queen during that inspection because there were 5 frames of capped brood in this inspection. The strange thing is, there were no larvae and from what I could see, no eggs either. I didn't spot the queen and I think she would have been an easy find since it wasn't like "bee overload" in there (it looked similar to last inspection). All capped brood were being fed, bees are brining in pollen, there weren't any queen cells that I noticed but there was a lot of dead bees at the bottom of the hive stuck in what looked like diarrhea. Seriously! It looked like a layer of water with diarrhea scattered about and a bunch of wet dead bees. My queen may be in that bunch, didn't take time to look at it.

I don't know what to do. Should I be ordering a new queen? Do I wait a few days and inspect again? Where did the water come from? I checked the sugar/water feeder which has been in place since Tuesday (I refilled a mason jar that I used the first week the bees were hived and it doesn't leak). The bees were on it eating away when I pulled it off. My inner cover was stuck to my shallow super which I assume was from the bees sealing it up.

I'm sad right now. My gut tells me the queen is dead and all I can say is I feel horrible. What did I do wrong?

UPDATE: I received some advice from more experienced beekeepers. The good thing is, I'm more optimistic than I was about the queen possibly being alive. Not optimistic about the fact that I moved frames around again and possibly put eggs on the edge of the hive body where they will freeze tonight. I've learned that a queen can stop laying due to cold or other issues or should I say "take a break" from laying. The only frames not full of brood are the outside frames and possibly the queen sensed that those were too cold for her babies???? It has been down in the 30's at night and between 40 and 50 during the day recently. I just hope that doesn't mean she will alert the others that it is SWARM time because there isn't any room to expand.

I also talked to Brian, the beekeeper who helped me hive my bees. He advised me to go out and scrape the water and dead bees out of the hive since the water pool was on the side of the bee entrance. I did it but it was quite the production. I got to see what bees are like when their tolerance level is running thin. More of them landing on me and hubby than usual and they buzz quite a bit louder. We happen to kill one bee and I'm feeling really badly about that. I know it comes with the territory but it still doesn't feel right to kill anything. It was a bee with legs full of pollen too :( All I picture is her working really hard to take care of her family and me cutting her life short. The poor girl. If anything does me in as a beekeeper it will be the fact that I'm killing something. Call it my PETA syndrome. GAWD I HATE PETA!!!!

UPDATE #2: Just read, if there isn't enough hatched brood in the hive to cover the frames than the queen may take a break from laying as there aren't enough bees to feed and keep the brood warm. Sounds logical to me. Another thing to keep in mind if I do find my queen is alive.