05 November 2013

aggressive bee inspections

curious or angry?

smoking well in advance

Ten or so hives on-top a mountain were visited today and they weren't too welcoming. These hives are known to be much more aggressive, which Kwao likes for they seem to be more vigirous and productive than the gentler bees. A theory I once read is that by breeding the fight out of the bees, we are trying to face CCD with bees that can't even defend themselves against robber yellow jackets, all because we want less stings on our fingers (though CCD has yet to affect Jamaica). These colonies did have much more nectar than any of the colonies I've been through here so far, there was even a wee bit of capped honey on some of the combs. In comparison, the hives on the farm are right on the edge of the ocean which, resource-wise, is like a desert so the bees have to fly much further inland for resources than these colonies.
top-bar vs langstroth frames


Though most of the hives are top-bars, there are still some Langstroths lingering that have a mixture of frames and top-bars in them. The top-bars are drawn out to be removed for making splits (the division a colony into two). There is a difference in height that stops the roof from resting on-top properly, which is another revision that the Adams plan to make in the future - thinner top-bars.

I was able to observe and compare the management of a Langstroth to a top-bar hive better with aggressive bees. When you open up a Langstoth hive, the entire colony is instantly exposed to light, and angered - similar to having the roof ripped off the top of your home. With the top bar, you are peeling back one comb at a time, slowly working your way into the hive which results in much calmer bees. The bees were furiously circling us, regardless. Inspections and feedings resumed.

During an inspection, we look for eggs, queen cells, new comb, excessive drone cells, nectar and pollen. Eggs indicate a queen-right hive. Queen cells means that the colony will swarm very soon. Bees are always building queen cups for emergencies, we just pinch those off. New comb is built when there is abundance and an excessive amount of drone cell could be the result of a poor or absent queen. Some of the capped brood were chewed open, which was a sign that the nurse bees were cannibalizing their brood for protein due to the lack of pollen resources.
artistic touch

angry bees circling overhead

Kwao accumulated six stings rather quickly and I was able to escape with only one. 

No comments :

Post a Comment