Inspection after 3 week break

The hive has been steadily gaining weight after my last feeding. Due to life happening as it does it’s been three weeks since my last inspection, so I squeezed on in before work this morning.

They are drawing out the comb a little more but still need to fill in quite a bit more, I was surprised to see that. But there are pretty good bands of nearly capped honey above two of the frames and nectar in quite a few more, so I know they have plenty of forage, and stores now. They have some really big blocks of pollen in the brood nest area, so my observations of the Italians being better pollen foragers seems to be correct. There has never been this much pollen stored until now.

One interesting behavior that I noticed was that the frame facing the side of the hive that gets direct sunlight for most of the day is almost completely undrawn still at this point however the entire face of the foundation was full of either nectar or honey. It appears they are using this frame on the hottest side of the hive to act as a swamp cooler/honey making station. Has anyone else seen this behavior.

On that note, they are working much harder on the far side of the hive which I have been referring to as the “cool side”. Should I try to shade the other side of the hive to encourage them to work that frame for more then evaporating nectar?

All in all I think they are doing really well considering the monster temps we have been seeing the last two weeks. And I was able to find the queen she was plugging away laying eggs on one of the middle frames. There was a good amount of capped brood, and tons of eggs and larvae so she is still going strong.

Not quite sure what you mean, but IIRC you are using plastic foundation. So do you mean that the face next to the hive wall is undrawn, but the inner face is drawn? If so, that is pretty typical bee behaviour. Sometimes I turn that frame through 180 degrees to encourage them to draw out the other face, but I would only do that if there is no brood in it. They are often slow to pull out comb next to the hive wall.

The other thing to remember is that often the outermost frame is only used for food (honey/pollen) storage, and not for brood unless they are cramped for space.

Yes I am using plastic frames/foundation. The inside wall of the foundation is slightly drawn but just a corner. So very little of that frame is drawn at all, unlike the same frame position on the opposite side, which while not fully drawn has seen significantly more attention then its counter part and was actually nearly fully covered in bees when I pulled that frame. From my interpretation it looks like they are leaving that one frame as a buffer from the heat and only using the depressions in the foundation to evap honey.

You may be right but I have had bees do that same thing in SoCal with 70F temps. They just don’t like completing that outer frame. Randy Oliver of Scientific Beekeeping has noted it too in his multi-100 hive apiary. His solution is to take Frame 2 or 7, and switch it with Frame 1 or 8 (respectively), providing there is no brood in the frame which is about to become the outer frame. You can find his description about a third of the way down this web site:

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Lol my bees wish it was 70F… My scale/temp sensor have not registered a day under 100F in almost a month. The high was 126F.

Hi Adam, sounds like your bees are doing fine under the circumstances. 126degF, that IS hot.

My observation hive is in total shade with one side facing a brick wall. I normally have one fully drawn frame in the middle & one foundationless frame on each side. Every time the bees build the frame closest to the brick wall quicker than the frame closest to the outside. The brick wall is in the shade, so it doesn’t get hot & then retain that heat during the night. It must be something to do with the brick wall retaining some warmth of the daytime temps.

I think in your case, anything you can do by way of shade to assist the bees to keep the hive cool, especially during those hot days will be welcome. You have to consider the fuel they use to gather water & then fan it to air-con the hive is only depleting stores.