Angry Bees In My Bonnet & Hive Beetle Management

This past week, after throwing a full blown hissyfit in my woodshop when I failed to complete the final construction of 30 new hives, I went to the apiary at Dr. D’s place and bought myself a little more time.

Noah and I first went to to Dr. D’s place on Wednesday and inspected all of the hives. Two hives (B3 & B4) were very weak but the rest of the hives were exploding!

At the end of winter, each hive was left with 2 supers of honey. Now on inspection, each hive was full of honey and bubbling with bees. Noah and I added a few frames to every hive, to give them a little room, and added a super to a couple of the more robust hives. (Hive inspections and corrections for all 14 hives only took an 1.25 hours.)

On Saturday morning I returned to Dr. D’s alone and checked hives B3 & B4.

B4 had two full frames of bees but it also had a lot of beetles. In fact, it had a patch of beetle larva eating one of the frames.

Most people will agree, “the best management for hive beetles is a strong hive”. However, that motto is useless when it comes to a weak hive. The three methods I used over winter to deal with SHB was; Beetle Buster Traps, political sign traps, and Swiffer Sheets – all worked fairly well since most of my hives have very few beetles.

However, since I have a weak hive with only a few frames of bees, I decided to be more proactive. I removed each frame and banged the bees and beetles off onto the lid of the hive. This didn’t harm the bees and they all eventually went home.

As for the beetles, well in the words of Ankin Skywalker, “I killed them. I killed them all. They’re dead, every single one of them. And not just the men, but the women and the children, too. They’re like animals, and I slaughtered them like animals. I HATE THEM. “

After removing all signs of SHB, I added a frame of hatching brood to B4. The hive has a queen but if she doesn’t shape up, she may have to, shall we say, “sleep with the beetles.”

I also checked hive B3 and found that it was down to about 100 bees. Noah and I had actually found a very small queen walking on the inside lid of this hive on Wednesday. However, “one of us” let her fly away while “I” was checking the hive… but I don’t like to point fingers… especially at my free help.

Since B3 was all but dead, I decided to Split Hive E5 onto this location. AND THAT IS WHEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!

When I arrived at DR. D’s it was only 8:00am and still a little cool out so the bees hadn’t started flying yet. So hive E5 was not just full of bees but packed with cantankerous field bees. This wouldn’t have matter since I have a great bee suit… but what I didn’t have was a great veil.

The sound of swarming bees was deafening as I moved the entire hive, super by super, to location B3. However, it wasn’t until a bee got inside my hood that my anxiety went up.

It’s hard to tell if the red whelp on my cheek came from the bee stinging my nose or from me punching that bee with my fist like it was a grown man.

In seconds my hood filled with bees. I got stung across the back of my neck 7 more times before I could get out of the area. Once I was at my truck, I found that there was a 3″ rip across the back of my collar. Luckily I keep duck tape on hand for just such an occasion.

With the hole taped up, I completed the walk-away split. E5 was placed on B3 and two frames of eggs were placed in an empty super on the E5 location. That split went so well, and since I had a few extra lips and bottoms, I decided to split Hives A2, B5, & C5. I will complete the rest of my splits as soon as I can complete the 30 hives in my woodshop.

“When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time,” Creighton Abrams

I’ve spent a lot of time in the woodshop this year fabricating 30 new hives. It has taken a lot more time than I thought it should have. However, with every minute in the shop, I have honed my skills, made new jigs, and increased my productivity. I suspect that the next 30 will only take me a quarter of the time.

That being said, the final task needed to complete my hives is to trim the supers down to 9 5/8″, add handles, and paint everything. I expected the trimming to take about 2 hours but I have been at it for two days. Granted I slowed the work by adding additional 1 1/2″ staples to all of the joints after trimming but still…

To add insult to injury, my Harbor Freight 3 gallon Pancake Air Compressor went tits up at 3:00pm Sunday, halting all work. In the end, it was all for the best since the torrential rain storm last night would have ruined the paint.

All and all, my bees are doing great and I am staying on top of them. I’ll buy a new air compressor today and by the weekend, I hope to have all of the hives painted and ready to go.

Hive Count: 18 Hives.

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