Monday, April 28, 2014

Hive inspection 2

I did another hive inspection on Sunday.  There are a couple of frames of capped brood and exposed larvae.  There was also an odd frame with eggs away from the center, and I don't know what the deal with that is.  The side toward the center is full of pollen, so maybe the bees filled the pollen for the upcoming brood, but then needed more space for eggs as the new frame was drawn out.  I also saw one varroa mite crawling around.  I'm going to have to hurry up and build a screened bottom board so that I can do mite counts and a sugar shake to see how bad they are.  I didn't see any other than that one, but I probably just didn't look hard enough.

I was hoping to see honey this time, as the bees have slowed down on their syrup intake, and the flowers are blooming, but no such luck.

The cinnamon doesn't seem to deter the ants at all.  It looks like they were staying out of the hive proper, but were climbing up the side and going through the gaps at the inner cover to get to the syrup on top.  I have put a ring of petroleum jelly all the way around just below the cover.  I had already done that around the hive supports, but it didn't work.  Those supports are concrete blocks, and I think the petroleum jelly actually soaked into the concrete so the ants could still cross.  I'm hoping the ants don't start going into the hive, and that the bees will keep get rid of them if they do.  I'm also worried that the ants will have too much access when I build the screened bottom board.  I may have to come up with a different hive stand so that the ants can be stopped before they get to the hive at all.  Right now, the hive is sitting directly on a pallet, and that pallet is up on blocks.

Update: The petroleum jelly works, but won't stand up to heat.  The sunward side of the hive appears to have melted and run.  I'll have to wipe off the front tonight because I can't risk any of it running down to the entrance, which means the ants will be able to get back up.  I did, however, find this forum post.  The builder is using high-temp bearing grease in inverted PVC caps around metal pipes.  I don't know how much I trust the inverted bit, though.  Even if it stands the heat, it may not stand gravity forever.  So I am thinking of using a double cap, a large inverted one above to keep rain out, and a smaller one below that isn't inverted to hold the grease.  Better safe than sorry.  I need to build that and the screened bottom board as soon as possible.  It is going to get hot this summer, and the bees will need the ventilation, but if I move the feeder out front, I will need to leave the entrance reducer on to prevent robbing, at least until I know I have enough bees in the hive to be able to notice robbing.

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