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M4tt

August 2018 Apiary Diary

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1 hour ago, Ted said:

Yes I agree.  One of my home hives had an old marked queen that I had used previously as a breeder so I was very well acquainted with her.  I checked it 3 weeks ago and found she had been superseded and there was a virgin running around.  Early this week I pinched a queen out of an overwintered poly to replace the virgin and discovered she was mated,  laying and had sealed worker brood.  The maximum temp was 17 degrees through that period.

Maybe the queens do not fly cause they know there are no drones about and the hive decides its not worth it .

Maybe the temp is as much related to how many drones are now available .

Maybe global warming will change bee behaviour here .

I do not know .

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2 minutes ago, kaihoka said:

How can you explain @Ted and my experience with our queens ?

With Ted's case that supercedure could have happened months ago, with old failing breeders, you can often find a daughter tolerating  the old girl.  Queens that mated late, still look virginal until they start to lay.  With your case, it was all a bit complex, and like with UFO's there is probably a more likely explanation than believing they mated mid-winter with drones from 4km 's away.

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8 hours ago, David Yanke said:

The 27th of August is the plan this season because the bees are telling me to wake up and get moving, but because we have had a run of pretty crap springs in recent years, I generally aim for the 1st of September or just after- it just isn't worth the risk of starting too early, and stuffing up a lot of nucs because you can't get virgins mated.  Back in my yellow bee, pre-varroa days, I would always start grafting on August 1st, and you could usually count on being able to cage off sealed brood by the first week in September- Awe, those were the days, beekeeping was so easy, and beekeepers kept bees for all the right reasons!

 

I've rolled the dice and uplift my first cells in the last week of August.  Two weeks ago I thought this was a sound decision, after the last week not so much.  

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14 minutes ago, kaihoka said:

Maybe the queens do not fly cause they know there are no drones about and the hive decides its not worth it .

Maybe the temp is as much related to how many drones are now available .

Maybe global warming will change bee behaviour here .

I do not know .

Virgins don't think or know, they a pre-programmed to fly out to mate once they reach sexual maturity(which is the 7th day after hatching), the time of day is early to mid-afternoon, the temp. is 20 degrees, and the wind is less than 10 knots(preferably a lot less).  They fly  directly to Drone congregation areas that are defined by sudden vertical relief- drones use the same geographic clues so they all end up in the same place.  Drones start flying earlier than virgins will so that the virgins don't arrive to an empty congregation area.

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6 minutes ago, David Yanke said:

Virgins don't think or know, they a pre-programmed to fly out to mate once they reach sexual maturity(which is the 7th day after hatching), the time of day is early to mid-afternoon, the temp. is 20 degrees, and the wind is less than 10 knots(preferably a lot less).  They fly  directly to Drone congregation areas that are defined by sudden vertical relief- drones use the same geographic clues so they all end up in the same place.  Drones start flying earlier than virgins will so that the virgins don't arrive to an empty congregation area.

If you put hives into a new area how do the bees find/work out the congregation areas ?? 

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Ah .... Philbeees little nuc.   We wintered over some little polys. They had late mated queens in the autumn so we just stuck them ontop of some hives, dribbled some syrup in, plonked a shop cloth on them  and strapped them down for the winter. We fed them today.   They look  worse than Phils but we'll catch the queens  and put them to good use shortly. 

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46 minutes ago, David Yanke said:

With Ted's case that supercedure could have happened months ago, with old failing breeders, you can often find a daughter tolerating  the old girl.  Queens that mated late, still look virginal until they start to lay.  With your case, it was all a bit complex, and like with UFO's there is probably a more likely explanation than believing they mated mid-winter with drones from 4km 's away.

So the virgins that Ted and I saw running around could have been mated queens that looked and acted like virgins because they had not started to lay yet.

I did not realise that that could happen . That they could mate and take a couple of months to lay .

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23 minutes ago, nikki watts said:

If you put hives into a new area how do the bees find/work out the congregation areas ?? 

Scout bees must go out and look .

If they are programmed to fly at 7 days you would have to move a new queen quickly after she hatched so the  scouts had time to find a zone ..

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59 minutes ago, David Yanke said:

With Ted's case that supercedure could have happened months ago, with old failing breeders, you can often find a daughter tolerating  the old girl.  Queens that mated late, still look virginal until they start to lay.  With your case, it was all a bit complex, and like with UFO's there is probably a more likely explanation than believing they mated mid-winter with drones from 4km 's away.

Yes I guess that is possible - I have certainly seen old queens and virgins appearing to co exist quite happily many times.

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5 minutes ago, Ted said:

Yes I guess that is possible - I have certainly seen old queens and virgins appearing to co exist quite happily many times.

So have I but I did not know  mated queens could look like virgins until they lay.

It is an important fact I will need to consider with late matings .

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1 hour ago, kaihoka said:

So have I but I did not know  mated queens could look like virgins until they lay.

It is an important fact I will need to consider with late matings .

It is only when egg laying is initiated, and the ovaries enlarge dramatically which distends the abdomen, and changes the appearance of the Queen from virginal  to Queen like- she doesn't move as quickly any more either because she is dragging a much larger/heavier abdomen around. You can see this in reverse with caged Queens, their ovaries shrink back down and the abdomen along with it, not back to virginal but close.

Edited by David Yanke
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1 hour ago, yesbut said:

A wee bit here about a drone congregation area. I might try the fishing rod thing one day.

https://www.vita-europe.com/beehealth/blog/drone-congregation-areas-part-2/

With congregation areas, you know when you come across one by the sound of the drones flying above. Usually they are near  a feature of vertical relief- like the edge of flat open field where it meets a line of tall trees, or a steep hill face.  A sure test that you have found one, is to throw something(stone, clod of dirt) up into the air.  If it is an active congregation area the drones will mug the thing you threw up into the air in an instant, they seem to come from nowhere. Once in California we we witnessed comets of bees(drones chasing virgins) several meters above the ground, amazingly one of the comets crashed into the ground only about 10 meters from where we stood.  We ran over, and the virgin was still in the grass with a lot of drones, and, to our surprise, workers as well.  I had always assumes she flew off on her own to mate, but after that, I  was open to the thought that maybe she was escorted on her mating flight.  

 

 

Edited by David Yanke
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20 minutes ago, David Yanke said:

It is only when egg laying is initiated, and the ovaries enlarge dramatically which distends the abdomen, and changes the appearance of the Queen from virginal  to Queen like- she doesn't move as quickly any more either because she is dragging a much larger/heavier abdomen around. You can see this in reverse with caged Queens, their ovaries shrink back down and the abdomen along with it, not back to virginal but close.

So moving these hives into a decent honey flow encouraged the new queens to lay and the old queens to fade away.

If these hives had stayed at home what would have happened.

Would the new queens have waited until a spring flow to start laying   and the old queens ticked along till then .

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5 hours ago, David Yanke said:

There is an option, they don't fly.  You can believe they mate at below 19 degrees if you like, but I haver never seen it. If you want to believe they mate at 17 degrees in mid-winter, you can believe that as well.  Beekeepers have all sorts of strange beliefs.  Facts are, virgins  will rarely fly out on a mating  flight when the ambient air temperature is below 20 degrees. 

So you’re saying it is possible? I am glad you agree with me?

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2 hours ago, David Yanke said:

With congregation areas, you know when you come across one by the sound of the drones flying above. Usually they are near  a feature of vertical relief- like the edge of flat open field where it meets a line of tall trees, or a steep hill face.  A sure test that you have found one, is to throw something(stone, clod of dirt) up into the air.  If it is an active congregation area the drones will mug the thing you threw up into the air in an instant, they seem to come from nowhere. Once in California we we witnessed comets of bees(drones chasing virgins) several meters above the ground, amazingly one of the comets crashed into the ground only about 10 meters from where we stood.  We ran over, and the virgin was still in the grass with a lot of drones, and, to our surprise, workers as well.  I had always assumes she flew off on her own to mate, but after that, I  was open to the thought that maybe she was escorted on her mating flight.  

 

 

I do that at home in our back yard by throwing a basket ball high up in to the air. My kids are amazed to see the drones come flying up to the ball before it falls back to the ground. Better done with a cloudy sky as the cloud backdrop makes them easier to see.

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15 hours ago, David Yanke said:

Once in California we we witnessed comets of bees(drones chasing virgins) several meters above the ground, amazingly one of the comets crashed into the ground only about 10 meters from where we stood.  We ran over, and the virgin was still in the grass with a lot of drones, and, to our surprise, workers as well.  I had always assumes she flew off on her own to mate, but after that, I  was open to the thought that maybe she was escorted on her mating flight.  

 

That would have been very interesting.  It is kind of nice not knowing everything- bit of mysteriousness I find healthy.  

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Bees on a white clover among the rest of plants.. I am strained to other obligations, they have a peace from me .. for now..

DSCN9231.JPG

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Today I've gone through all my hives. This is the second August check.

 

Only two needed syrup which is excellent given I don't really feel like buying sugar this year. Thats about 5% needing feeding. They've built up too fast and chomped through all their honey.

 

The rest are mostly heavy. I had quite a varroa problem through the winter so many hives had the second box , with honey in, put above the feeder to reduce the brood box size down to suit the smaller bee populations. This has worked well and today the vast majority got their box back with the unused feeder stored back on top.

 

All hives are healthy and are busy making fresh burr comb on top of the frames which is an excellent indicator of bee health. @Philbee's OA gib staples are doing a wonderful job. As the brood nest expands, they get more staples.

 

One strong hive  was queen less so its been given a frame of eggs and brood, which in my opinion is a bit early, and another QR hive has a capped supercedure cell. We shall see what happens.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, M4tt said:

... another QR hive has a capped supercedure cell. 

 

How do you distinguish swarming from supercedure? I think I messed this up in autumn and a hive that was superceding was prevented from doing so by me (I’ve got a nice split now though) but I can’t tell the difference. Any tips?

The only things I had to judge by was brood pattern and number of drone cells, I’m hoping there is more...

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3 minutes ago, cBank said:

 

How do you distinguish swarming from supercedure? I think I messed this up in autumn and a hive that was superceding was prevented from doing so by me (I’ve got a nice split now though) but I can’t tell the difference. Any tips?

The only things I had to judge by was brood pattern and number of drone cells, I’m hoping there is more...

At the present moment , time of the year . Swarming is not on their agenda just yet 

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30 minutes ago, cBank said:

 

How do you distinguish swarming from supercedure? I think I messed this up in autumn and a hive that was superceding was prevented from doing so by me (I’ve got a nice split now though) but I can’t tell the difference. Any tips?

The only things I had to judge by was brood pattern and number of drone cells, I’m hoping there is more...

Swarm cells tend to be along the bottom edges of the frames and usually numerous.  Supercedure cells tend to be on the middle of the frame and only a few cells.  Time of year and hive population are also good clues - eg peak swarm season October to November.

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The August round is pretty intensive for me. Lots of jobs on site and the back protests!

AFB, propolis scrape, feed checks, excluders home (stored under lid over winter) mark queens (when I find them/feel like it)  and general checks for me.  Nearly completed first round.  Good over wintering. Have 15 dead outs/queen less and 20-30 odd marked to Requeen out of 588 hives. At least 30 top splits to fix deads.  I do put effort into autumn work.  Mite loads, from what I have checked are low.  No sac/chalk. Fresh pollen coming in (wattle I think and some dandelion) 

Bees are mixed bag, as in bee numbers and brood.  Some yards booming while others moving slowly.  That's about normal and I prefer it that way.   And food stores are getting eaten fast. 

Bought some Megabee to try- and some Phill bee gibs. 

I am changing out floor boards for the newly built ones. 

Have to clean excluders soon- hot water bath. 

Think about my first graft- probably aim for Early Sept. 

Feel that this season the bees are moving ahead compared to last and it could be a swarmer year (and hopefully a reasonable honey season as some belief the two occur together)

Ground condition wetter, get worse as the cows are strip grazed/calving. Have managed to get into all sites bar one.  Was much wetter last August, though September last year was awful. I hope no repeat!

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I went for a hunt today and mixed it up with some Hive checks.

Its obvious that the Hunting will have to stop soon.

My first grafts will be very late September / early October.
Hives are monotonously good

The 1000kg of sugar I ordered went to the wrong city so I canceled it and haven't reordered.

Steady stream of large commercials buying Staples

These things will likely have a global impact which is a bit of a hoot.
I might get some tax deductible travel out of it if I can overcome my fear of terrorists on planes

  

 

 

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Been packing honey today for the container shop that is due to be up and running shortly .....It's interesting how enthused one gets when you see the packed honey and equate it to a few dollars in the back pocket rather than just looking at stacked up in a drum in the shed wasting space.

Moved bees last night out of the Dew but gave up when it started snowing .... citing health and safety issues when questioned by the Boss as why I was home before the sun got up.

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