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[personal profile] doodlemaier posting in [community profile] bee_folk
Much to my surprise, today I discovered eggs in one of the two comb failure hives I've been nursing through life all summer! It had been more than a month since attempting to remove them and I hadn't been able to find any vacated queen cells in either trap-out attempt and so naturally I feared the worst. My intention today was merely to clean all the putrid honey and SHB maggots out of the comb failure hive, reclaim the wax and combine the two colonies in order to free up some woodenware to house the trap-out that I've been ignoring at my in-laws. At any rate, I'm back in the business of feeding bees (if for no other reason, I wanted to test my cheap n'easy sheet cake tin hive top feeder on bees that I figured were as good as dead anyway).

I cooked up a gallon of 1-to-1 syrup and, per a friend's suggestion, I used some Honey-B-Healthy in the mix despite Mike Bush's warning about any non-native scents in the hive having the potential to disrupt communication within the brood nest, even those that are considered safe and "natural". I think it helped cover the scent a few hundred sudden new arrivals (only a couple frames of bees were left of the queenless cluster) and otherwise kept the colony with the laying queen busy enough to not want to fight about it.

I added a second box underneath - empty of frames - hoping the bees will draw nice double-deep uninterrupted combs from the open-bottom frames for winter optimization (more comb area with fewer gaps) and so didn't separate the two boxes with a sheet of newspaper with slices in it, as is customary when combining colonies. This technique creates considerable lag time between the bees of disparate colonies having to deal with each other and by the time they do everyone's pretty well taken on the scent of the hive and adapted. Luckily everyone seemed to get along okay right off the bat. Although the honey from the comb failure's ruined from the standpoint of human consumption, the bees were busy cleaning up all the little details I spilled. Everything out if the dead hive went into a large plastic trash bag and into the chest freezer to eliminate the SHB infestation, and after a week I plan to let that thaw and drain further and feed it back to them throughout the remainder of the season if they'll take it.

In the mean time I'm hoping they'll make good use of the extra space to ramp up the population a bit in case there's a secondary nectar flow later, as there often is here in the mid-atlantic toward the onset of autumn; the fantasy being that I'll transfer combs containing the survivor stock to a frame bearing variant of the Perone hive in the spring.

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Bee Folk

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