01 November 2013

hive inspections and revisions

feeding the bees

Agape removing the empty plastic bags

cane sugar syrup baggies waiting to be placed in the hive

inspecting for hive health

Today we finished feeding the hives on the farm and got the chance to inspect a few of them before the rain chased us indoors. I spotted eggs, larvae in all stages and capped brood as well as open cells of sugar water. Some of the field bees were scurrying around inside with brightly coloured balls of pollen on their pollen baskets - always a good sign! There was more eggs and larvae than capped brood which meant the colonies are increasing their brood rearing, most likely due to the supplementary feeding. The bees are doing good in this dearth.
before : top-bars flush with hive edges
after : angled hive edges

I was able to observe some of the differences between the top-bar hives that the Adams made throughout the past two years. The first top-bar hive's edges were flush with the top-bars, thus making it too easy to crush bees. The latest hives were cut to leave an angled point that the top-bars could rest ontop of, without the excessive bee-crushing surface area.
before : roof resting directly on-top top-bars

after : heightened hive ends

Another revision was made to the end pieces, they were cut with extra height to hold the tin roofs above the top bars and promote air flow between the top bars and roof. This eliminated the need for the bamboo covers that were built to prevent the tin roofs from overheating the hives.
before : wooden hive stand

after : rebar and cement hive stand

I also got a chance to observe two of Jamaica's honeybee pests : ants and termites. If the colonies are too weak, the ants will devour the hive by stealing brood and honey / sugar syrup. The Adams revised their stands from wood to cinder blocks filled with cement and rebars. The rebar can be covered with grease to prevent ant infestations and the lack of wood discourages termites. The heightened hive ends can also can discourage ants from nesting in the warm and dry space above the top-bars.
after a morning of muddy bee tending

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