July 7th Inspection

I went out to check on my hives yesterday, but forgot to take my camera along.  As I explained, hive #2 had a bit of a mess last week due to some comb that was attached to two top-bars and ended up collapsing.  I had left the comb behind the follower board for the bees to clean out (it had nectar in it).  I wanted to remove the collapsed comb, and check on their work to repair any of the other comb.

I only check on hive #2, but did watch bees at the entrance of both hives before starting.  Both hive have busy entrances, with lots of bees coming and going.  Both also had a good number of bees washboarding again.  I saw a good number of bees coming into both hive loaded with pollen.  Interestingly, hive #2 was bringing in only orange pollen while hive #1 was bringing in mostly pale yellow pollen (with an occasional bee with orange pollen).  I find it interesting that they seen to have found different pollen sources even though they are located right next to each other.

In hive #2, I removes the fallen comb from behind the follower board.  As I had hoped, they had cleaned it out of nectar.  Being good little builders though, they didn’t seem to want to leave it sitting loosely and had made it sturdy.  I had left the comb on top of a piece of plywood that I used to set the feeder on.  The bees attached all the comb together ands down to the plywood.  Its fascinating to look at, and reminds me of columns and buttresses in some type of cathedral.  It also smells wonderful (just like honey). 🙂


Just out of curiosity, I also measured the cell size.  They all seem to measure about 5.3 mm (5.3cm for 10 cells).  It as shame that this beautiful comb can’t be used by the bees, but I am sure they will replace it.

The bees had done some work repairing the combs that were still hanging.  They had reattached the lose combs, and were building more comb.  Nothing was attached to multiple top-bars, but I can also tell that its not all cleared up yet.  I’ll have to keep an eye on them to try and stop new problems before they get to big.

2 Responses to “July 7th Inspection”

  1. John Says:

    Enjoy your journal.

    Note your observation that your bees comb cell width is 5.3 mm. I find that interesting because small cell foundation (3.9 mm) is promoted as being a more natural size foundation than what is generally produced and distributed for commercial hives.

    Your thoughts?

  2. kawayanan Says:

    I checked the cell size because of the idea that small cell (or natural cell) is helpful in combating varroa mites. Small cell is commonly considered to be 4.9mm, whereas natural cell means “whatever the bees want to build”. Natural cell is commonly considered to be smaller than the average foundation however (for the brood nest). They will naturally build a variety of cell sizes (larger for honey and drones, smaller for brood). Check out http://bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm for more info.

    Regression of the bees has to still be considered, and that is probably the important factor in my case. Bees raised on commercial foundation will not build smaller cells right of the bat if you just take the foundation away. They will build something smaller, but it may take a few generations for them to build “small cells”. My bees started as a package this year, and are in the regression process. As we go on, hopefully they will continue to build smaller and smaller cells until they level off at some natural size.

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