Last Thursday Alice Casey and I moved the three colonies from their Langsroth vertical hives into the new horizontal hives. When the frames were moved into the new hives foundationless frames with top bar-style tops were installed between the old frames to encourage the bees to create their own foundationless combs. Within minutes the Ladies were festooning on the foundationless frames and beginning to swap wax for the new comb. This was all very exciting and surprising.
12:04 PM Alice Casey and I began our adventure with transferring 3 hives of Langsroth Deeps (2 deeps to each hive) to Horizontal Hives built to accommodate the existing deep frames and introduce the Ladies to foundationless frames with starter strips.
We began with the Easternmost hive which was an over wintered Carniolan colony that has been extremely industrious since the warm days started 2+ weeks ago here in NW NJ. We removed the outer telescoping cover to discover a large number of Ladies on top of the inner cover. We generously sprayed the with 1:1 sugar water and lifted the inner cover to expose the top of the 1st deep. Amazingly the top deep was fully populated with bees and there were 8 frames of honey (some partial, some full) populating the top deep. We found strange burr comb on the bottoms and sometimes middle of these frames populated by very fat pupae that appeared to be bees (possibly drones). We decided to leave them and see what developed. After inspecting and moving the frames from the top deep and putting a foundationless frame between each transferred frame we removed the top deep and started inspecting the equally busy bottom deep. Here we found frames of capped and uncapped brood with much pollen, nectar and capped honey on 6 frames. It was interesting to note that within 5 minutes of transferring the frames and putting the foundationless frames with starter strips in place, we saw festooning starting . While we did not see the queen we saw evidence of her presence in the uncapped brood and some eggs. A thriving colony for sure. The empty frames were left in a deep box for the ladies to finish up with and a couple of partial frames with some pollen and nectar were also left.
We then moved over to the middle hive which was packaged Italian in April of 2015. While the hive was not as full of bees as the Carniolans hive, it was busy and there were 6 partial frames of honey in the upper deep. The Italian ladies were also being docile and required only 1:1 sugar water to keep them calm as we transferred their honey frames, drone brood frames and capped and uncapped brood frames into the horizontal hive. There were a total of 4 brood frames and 3 frames with brood and drones. with six partial frames of honey, pollen and nectar. We inserted foundationless frames with started strips between each transferred frame and again almost immediately saw signs of festooning.
Then we moved on to the 3rd hive which was also started with a package of Italian bees in April of 2015. During the transfer the bees became very aggressive and spraying with 1:1 sugar water did not seem to calm them. I was stung 3 times by this hive and they continued to chase us after we completed the transfer and closed up the horizontal hive. I will leave all of the hives alone until tomorrow morning and then check on the condition of the emptied deeps.
While the weather is still frigid and we are being threatened with a snow event today and into Monday, My Ladies and I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy, damp, and beautiful Spring. Come join us on our Facebook page, Natural and Balanced Beekeeping (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1560219327621693/) and spread the information, the joy, and the camaraderie of us all. We will be moving our ladies into the newly built horizontal hives shortly and will post pictures of the move and track how the ladies adapt to a more bee friendly way of living.
Bee yard Air Temp is 54 F with scattered clouds. The ladies are visiting the bird feeders gathering whatever they can. 3 of the 4 hives are alive and very active. Thank you Gaia!
Today I reinforced 15 deep frames without foundation for use in the horizontal hive body that I have fitted with what will become an eco-floor. There is obviously room for an additional 15 frames within the hive body. The deep frames have a dowel in the middle of the frame space which is glued and nailed in place to be able to support the frame if it is put into an extractor. Attached is a picture shared by another beekeeper who is holding foundationless frames that the bees are using.
This afternoon I completed the construction of the eco-floor for one of the horizontal hives that I will be moving one of the existing colonies into in the Spring. The eco-floor is made of 3" x 1" pine with 1'" x 6" pine end caps. The base is 1/4" mesh hardware cloth stapled solidly to the bottom of the base. All that is left to do in the spring is to populate the base with local twigs, branches, leaf litter and local soil to introduce a variety of local flora and fauna into the functional interior of the hive. This season I will do once horizontal hive with an eco-floor as an experiment to see how well it enhances the hive environment. Additionally I will be setting the horizontal hives up with the populated frames with foundation from the existing colonies and adding foundationless frames for the ladies to build their own comb into.
Today I have completed the 2nd body and ventilated roof for the horizontal hives that I am building for the Spring transition. Before I build the other 2 hive bodies (Langsroth-style) I am going to experiment with building an eco-floor for one of them and see how that works. I am also going to make top bars for the horizontal hives and I will move only the occupied frames from the Langsroth hives and allow the bees to build on top bars for the rest of the season. I am looking forward to seeing how the top bar hives that I have and the horizontal hives do during the 2016 season.
Saint Gobnait is the patroness or saint of bees and bee keepers. February 11th is St. Gobnait’s feast day -the day the memorable life of Saint Gobnait is celeb...rated. Saint Gobnait founded a religious community for women, performed memorable – some say miraculous works, A tall statue of St. Gobnait that was erected in the 1950s stands near the monastic site in Bally-
vourney, Co. Cork, southwest Ireland (in photo). She appears with a nun’s habit standing on a bee hive surrounded by bees.
There are several legends recalling Gobnait forcing invaders and thieves out of Ballyvourney by setting swarms of bees upon them. See stained glass artwork representations of these events (in photo). It’s is believed that Gobnait had a close relationship with bees and used honey in healing efforts, as she is best known for her care of the sick.
She is one of the few Irish saints that is not only remembered in her native region, but has been proclaimed by the Irish bishops to be a national saint. There are shrines and places of devotion to St. Gobnait in all the places she is believed to have stopped on her journey - including Inis Oírr. But Ballyvourney, where she carried out most of her ministry, is the place that draws the greatest number of pilgrims devoted to this saint.
Bechbretha: an Old Irish law-tract on bee-keeping from the seventh century AD
(modern translation by ed. Thomas Charles-Edwards and Fergus Kelly - 1983)
Bechbretha ‘bee-judgements’ provides a detailed account of early Irish law relating to bee-keeping, and covers such topics as ownership of swarms [ According to Eva Crane the laws "display a detailed knowledge of the sequence of swarms that could issue from a colony in the course of the summer", listing 7 Welsh terms for the types of swarms, and 6 in Irish. (the world history of beekeeping and honey hunting)], theft of bee-hives, Caithchi Bech ‘trespass-penalties of bees’, and neighbours' entitlements to honey from a beekeeper. The author also refers to the law-case which resulted from the blinding by a bee-sting of the eye of the Ulster king Congal Cáech, who died in 637. On linguistic and historical grounds, the editors date this remarkably well-preserved text to the seventh century AD. This volume includes a description of the manuscripts, linguistic and legal introductions, an account of early Irish bee-keeping, a restored text with translation, and textual notes. The appendixes contain other Irish legal texts relating to bee-keeping, as well as Medieval Welsh legal material on this topic.
The Irish Beekeepers' Association was formed in 1881, April 21.
Today I completed the horizontal Langsroth-type hive body and the ventilated gabled roof. Now that I am able to work the router table cutting the rabbits for the foundation frames assembling the hive body is a breeze. Now I will decide what type of bottom to use on the hives. Perhaps adapting the eco-bottom from the top bar hive design will work. I shall investigate and see what I can manage to create and adapt.
12:00 PM - It has been snowing and blowing from the East and South East all night. I have not cleared the driveway or anything other than the front porch of the house. I decided to wads out to the bee yard (about 12" of snow and it is still coming down and blowing hard) and see what the situation is there.