Hive Inspection 7/17/2011 and Marking a Queen

First, let’s go over how not to mark a queen. In my case, it would be not enthusiastically. Ugh. After watching videos on youtube and reading about recommended paints on beesource, I bought a white enamel paint pen from Testor. The queen was made this year and this year is a white paint year. As the life expectancy of a queen is about five years, the paint colors rotate every five years with a different paint color for each one of the 5 years.

For years ending in 1 or 6 the color is white (or gray), for years 2 or 7 it is yellow; 3 or 8,  red; 4 or 9, green; 5 or 0, blue.

I have a queen marking cage that looks like this

You get the queen to walk in there, oddly she resists, and then press the plunger very slowly until she is held ever so gently in place and you dab her with the marker. Or in my case, drench her. Oiy. Well, it might not be so bad. I definitely covered her thorax and some of her left wing where it attaches to the thorax. I just seriously hope I haven’t covered her spiracles or maimed her so much that the others don’t recognize her.The paint dried really quickly which was nice.

I originally purchased the marking cage because one of the blogs I follow uses the marking cage to keep the queen safe during an inspection. I really like that idea and will put that into practice as I get better with inspections. Right now I’m just trying to get used to handling all of the equipment and looking at frames without killing everyone. By the way, I use a frame rest and frame grips and I love them both. I especially like the frame grips for the honey frames as those can be really heavy and slippery in the heat.

Hive inspection results:

Melissa (orange) with Queen Maria (Marc’s queen = a queen name starting with “M”)

  • Set-up: 10 frame Deep brood box
  • Number of frames being worked: 4 (unchanged)
  • Queen spotted: Yes and marked white
  • Frames of brood:2 frames with small areas (unchanged)
  • Type of brood identified: capped and larvae
  • Food: Quart jar of 1:1 sugar syrup with HBH added, 1/4 used. Exchanged for a fresh bottle.

Overall Impression: Still struggling. It needs a “critical mass” of bees to allow the queen to lay more eggs. Right now there just aren’t a lot of bees in there.

Plan: May add a frame of capped brood from Demeter to boost the numbers  a bit. The other option is to combine them for the winter. I may end up with one hive overall come September. I would nix this queen in favor of Penelope. Also may change their food to higher sugar concentrate to facilitate evaporation.

Demeter (purple) with Queen Penelope (Peter’s queen)

  • Set-up: 10 frame Deep brood chamber
  • Number of frames being worked: 8
  • Queen spotted: No
  • Frames of brood: 3-4 with obvious expansion onto new foundation
  • Type of brood identified: capped and larvae
  • Food: Quart of syrup with HBH, empty (gave them Melissa’s unused food)

Overall Impression: Doing very well, expanding nicely. Scraped off burr comb from the tops of the frames. This nuc started with a boatload of bees. It’s amazing the difference between an adequate and an inadequate workforce.

Plan: May need another brood box by Wednesday. Better make some more frames!

Sorry there are no pictures today, I was kind of thrown off by the queen fiasco. Better luck with the next one!

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