Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Honey Bee Rehiving

Adding a second hive has been challenging. We got them in a Langstroth hive and put them into a Warre hive. This means pulling the honeycomb, cutting it down to size, and rehanging it into the new hive. All with living bees and trying to keep the queen happy and staying in the new hive. There are several things that you are not supposed to do with bees - expose brood (baby bee larva), have an excessive amount of raw honey around the area and move the hive around. We had to do all three in this process.

It is yet to be seen if the bees are going to settle in and establish in their new hive, but we are eagerly watching them and, so far, are very hopeful that all will work out well.

This is what the process looked like.

Here you can see the old Langstroth hive (lighter, longer box) and the new Warre hive (square box with handles along the outside) that the bees will eventually end up in.

Pulling out the old Langstroth hive frames. 

The bees were given a hard plastic base to build on. This meant that the old plastic with the bee's comb built onto it needs to be cut down to the size to go into the new box.

In a Warre hive there are no foundations and the bees build the complete comb naturally.

These are the honey comb frames that most people think of when they think of keeping bees. Most bee keepers use the Langstroth hive type.

Brushing the bees into the new box before cutting the comb to fit.

First, the frame on one side is cut and then the comb is cut trying to keep as much brood (baby bees) and honey as possible.

Here you can see where the brood (white parts of the edge of the comb) was laid all the way out to the edge and we had to sacrifice some of them.

Here is the comb cut down. You can see the lighter spots along most of the bottom half. Those are capped brood. When the eggs are laid the bees feed them then cap them and allow them to grow. There are several stages of growth for the brood before they emerge as adult bees.

Here are the extra pieces that were cut from the outside edges.

We were really hoping for some good honey, but it is early in the season. We did a small science lesson with the kids. The comb gave us a glimpse of what goes on in the hive. There were several stages of brood, some capped, some not. There was also green honey (nectar that is not honey yet). You would think that it would taste light and sweet, but alas, it tastes much more like old dirty socks or a musty garage. The green honey is open while the bees work on it, when it is complete they cap it with wax. There was one small spot that had completed capped honey. We each got about a teaspoon full. Oh, so good!

Here is a good view of a comb. Queens lay in a target pattern. In the middle (the capped cells) are the capped brood, then the yellow cells are pollen (provides protein food for the bees and brood), then there is an empty ring before the outer area (lighter yellow wax comb) which is the start of the honey.

After the brood hatch the bees will move down on the comb and the queen will lay more brood and the bees will go back and fill in the now empty comb with honey. And, on it goes as they keep moving down with each successive laying. This is how it works in nature and in a Warre hive. The Langstroth hives work different because the bees have to move sideways to utilize their comb. There are benefits with each type of hive, but we really like the more natural style of the Warre hives.

Hopefully this process will all work out and we will have amazing honey come Fall.

No comments:

Post a Comment