Sorry I fell a little behind in the goings on with the A2B2 Flow Hives, but here's an update on two checks for the price of one.
April 15th: We checked to see if both hives were bringing in pollen (they were), removed the wraps, mouse guards, and quilt boxes (de-winterized), and placed an extra box filled with drawn comb frames on each hive to give the bees more space and to prevent swarming. We also provided both hives with top feeders of 1:1 sugar syrup just in case the weather stayed crumby and they were unable to forage adequate nectar.
May 7th: SPLIT DAY!!! At this check we removed the feeders (which still had plenty of syrup in them), removed the extra boxes, split the hive with our more mature 2021 queen in it, made a nuc from that hive as well, added the Flow Hive Supers to the unsplit hive with our 2022 queen and to the queenless split, and treated the unsplit 2022 hive and the split with the 2021 queen with Hop Guard III to knock down our Varroa mite levels. Did you get all that?
Basically we left the hive with our 2022 queen alone except for treating it with Hop Guard III and adding the Flow Hive Super above a queen excluder. We are hoping that this younger queen will not swarm and that her 3 deeps of bees will make us tons of honey this year.
We are lucky that we got to our 2021 queen's hive when we did because even with the extra space that hive was boiling over with bees and had tons of queen cells! She was maybe only hours from swarming!!! We were able to find the queen (helped by her being marked last year), and moved the queen and frames without any queen cells to a new location (still in the apiary). If we had left any queen cells, she may still have swarmed on us. We also treated this hive for Varroa mites with Hop Guard III.
In the old location we left some of the queen cells in a new hive and plenty of bees to raise a new queen. This new hive didn't need mite treatment because in the close to a month it will be without a laying queen there will be a nice brood break and without brood, the mites cannot reproduce. We placed a Flow Super on this hive because even though there are far fewer bees in it, these bees won't have any brood to tend until the new queen is mated, so the only task available for them right now is to make honey!
There were so many queen cells in the 2021 hive that we placed some capped queen cells into a nuc as insurance against the 2022 hive swarming or the 2021 queenless hive failing to produce a mated queen. Now there's no guarantee that the nuc will produce a mated queen either, but we've at least doubled our chances to get a new 2023 queen. We also didn't have to treat the nuc for mites because it is currently in the same queenless condition as the queenless 2021 hive, so will also get a natural mite treatment in the form of a brood break.
Since our hives are so tall, we are also lowering their stand to make them easier to work. They are all on temporary stands right now.
Hopefully at our next check we will already be harvesting honey!
When: Sunday, May 21st, 10am
Where: The A2B2 Teaching Apiary next to the Project Grow Garden at Matthaei Botanical Gardens
What is a Flow Hive?
A Flow Hive is a Langstroth-style hive system with plastic frames which allow honey to be harvested directly from the hive. www.honeyflow.com/pages/how-flow-works