Thursday, March 19, 2009

Another Split

Click on photo to enlarge.

Today was warm and calm so I decided it was time to do the split I have been planning. It's purpose is twofold, make up for winter losses and also to convert from Layens to my hybrid Kenyan top bar hive. This hive uses British National top bars and cut down hoffman frame sides. (trying to get the advantages of natural comb without the disadvantage of comb attachment) These extend down for about 10cm where they finish to leave open comb in the kenyan style. The top of the bars have a beespace and a set of panels which prevent the hive being fully open when the roof is removed. The open top bars allow me to sit a Layens size box on top of one end nearest the end entrance. Now I knew I would be devastating this hive and the bees have been testy before so I lit my smoker and gave them about 3 puffs of weak smoke before it went out. I always seem to have trouble with smokers staying lit so I am going to dry some olive leaves for the job next time I use it. I opened up and sure enough they were on me by the thousands so I lay a wet tea towel over the top of the frames. I lifted out the first frame which was full of capped honey, the second the same. I shook the bees off and put them aside for harvesting the honey. The third had a good lot of sealed and unsealed brood so I transferred this into my top box. The next frame had an unsealed queen cell with a grub in it so my timing appears to be perfect. I didn't hang around looking for the queen, I quickly transferred two more frames and filled up the space with frames with starter strips and closed up. I moved the original hive to the other end of the apiary. So this hybrid hive top section now has 4 frames of brood with a queen cell and possibly the queen, and all the flying bees. The layens hive which had six empty frames to fill up the spaces has 6 frames with lots of honey and brood of all ages, eggs, possibly the queen and although out of balance, will quickly re-establish itself. I give the temper rating of these hives 7.5 on my 1-10 scale of nice to nasty. The hybrid Kenyan is third from left in the photo before the Layens box went on.

The spring flowers are still glorious and the citrus is about to start flowering too so plenty of forage is avaiable in this good weather. Some of the pollen being brought back is a deep royal blue? No signs of any bees in my bait hives set out in three different areas as yet but it is a weekly anticipation which I look forward to, followed by slight disapointment at each site. But there is always next week!

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