I went to check on the hives early this morning. I have been a little busy for a bit and haven’t done much with them. I found a little bit of a mess, and and added some too it.
I wouldn’t say it was a mistake because I don’t know what I would do differently, but this was the first time I felt a little bad when I finished with them.
The last time I had posted, both hives had 7 good combs, and hive #2 had just barely started on comb 8. Now in the last few times I have checked on them,hive #2 seems to be a bit stronger (based on the number of foragers coming and going). When I opened it up, they had started a small comb on top-bar 9, and worked a good bit on the comb on top-bar 8. The problem is that they are using slightly more than 1 1/4″ per comb (the top-bars are 1 1/4″ in the brood nest). Its not much, but enough that at comb 8, the comb started to be attached to the edge of top-bar 9. I’ve noticed this in both hives, but hive #2 is a little worse than hive #1. Maybe 1 3/8″ bars would work better. Here is ana example of where the comb on top-bar 7 was attached to top-bar 8 (on the right end).
When I removes the top-bar 8 here, it pulled on the comb of top-bar 7 (on the right end). I end up pushing the comb back in line and the bees will reattach it. Anyway, this time when I tried to remove top-bar 9, it started pulling on comb 8. The connections were more than just at one end. I cut the connections as best I could, but it still made a little mess. Here is comb 9 and 8. You can see how comb 8 got detached in a few places.
You can also see that the bees started comb 8 in two places, and then connected them. I think that added a little to the mess. I was actually impressed what the combs didn’t fail with as much detachment as there was. I straightened the comb as best I could. Unfortunately, gravity wasn’t done yet. 😦 After I had put it back in the hive and continued on with the inspection, I heard a “Thud…BBZZZZZ”. The smaller comb on the right side of top-bar 9 had collapsed. About half of the total comb had dropped to the floor of the hive. It only had nectar in it, but was too soft for me to try to tie to the top-bars or anything. I ended up moving it behind the follower board for the bees to clean up. I straightened up the remaining comb as best I could. I ended up adding a couple extra 1 1/2″ bars into the mix to try and correct the spacing of the combs. We will see how they clean up the mess.
I checked quickly on hive #1. Though they seem to have less foragers coming and going, they still seem to be doing fine. They haven’t built as much comb as hive #2, but their close. They haven’t started on top-bar 9, but have added a nice sized comb to top-bar 8. Even better, they haven’t made too much of a mess. I guess they may now have more comb than hive #2 after their collapse.
All in all, both hives seem to still be building up. There are a good number of foragers coming and going (a few more in hive #2, but too many more). I also see bees coming into each hive with full loads of pollen. I assume they are finding some nectar too (not sure exactly what though, basswood maybe?)