Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Strengthening a Weak Colony Part 3

I am still babying this colony. The queen is laying better and is laying a larger patch of brood than before. However the colony only has about three frames of bees and I feel it is near impossible for them to keep a double deep at the proper temperature to efficiently raise the amount of brood that they should be. So I am busting the two deeps down into a two story four frame nuc.

First I need to the nuc box into the position of where the full size double deep is. I begin by removing the upper deep which is still heavy and full of last year's honey. I like to place these heavy boxes on an empty super on the ground. It is easier on my than putting one of them atop an adjacent colony.

After removing the upper deep I got a good look to determine approximately how many bees were in the hive.

After seeing how few bees were in the hive I decided that they absolutely needed a smaller box. I had been wanting to put them into a nuc box for a while but finally had enough time last Sunday. I removed the lower brood chamber with the bottom board from the hive stand and placed the bottom board for the nuc in its place.

Then the deep nuc box went onto the nuc bottom board so I could begin transferring frames.

The first frames that I needed to locate were the ones which contained brood so the could be placed near the center of the nuc box.

The picture above is of brood from the small colony. You can see near the center of the brood patch where bees have been emerging. The queen is continuing to lay back into those empty cells to keep the brood concentrated together so the limited amount of nurse bees can take care of the brood more efficiently in a smaller area. Click on the picture to gen an enlarged picture to see the larvae in the center cells.

After locating two frames with brood they were put into the nuc box.

Next I found a frame with freshly gathered pollen which was located next to the brood frames.

This frame was put back into position in the nuc box as was a similar frame with pollen and nectar on the other side of the two brood frames.

I then added the second nuc box atop the first. I also placed the remnants of the pollen patty onto the top bars of the brood frames.

With the top nuc box in place I picked through the old upper deep to locate some nice frames with honey to put into the nuc. Since the bees will be able to maintain the cluster on the brood at the proper temperature more easily they will be able to raise more brood than they have. This means that they will need more food to feed the brood. I made sure to do my best to put four frames entirely filled with capped honey above the small cluster for easy access.

After filling the top nuc box with frames of honey I placed a migratory cover for a lid.

I have neglected putting this weak colony into a smaller box since I first began trying to save it. I do have more bees in it now. I also have the queen laying decently. She wasn't laying yet back when I first started working on the colony to save it about a month ago. I am sure the smaller area will help them out. They had way too much space in the full size equipment. Hopefully in another month from now that nuc will be packed with brood and bees. I gave the comb and honey I took from this weak colony to a couple of my fastest growing colonies. Hopefully I won't have to worry about the big colonies until I make some nucs from them. I also hope that I won't have to turn them into a nuc like I did this weak colony. As soon as I can requeen this colony it will be done.