My Oldest Hive
P. Michael Henderson
My original hive is now about six years old (established 2012). While it appears to be doing okay, it doesn't seem to be as active as my two newer hives. I opened it up a couple of days ago and it had a decent amount of honey in the supers but the outside frames had obviously gotten wet so I'm going to put a bee quilt on this hive, also.
I haven't rotated the frames in the brood boxes so the comb is getting old. I've decided to take the two outside frames out of each box (which will probably be mostly honey) and open up the center of the frames, where I'll put two fresh frames with foundation. The bees can draw out the comb and begin to use that for brood. Each year, I'll replace two frames, using the same procedure to put the new frames in the center of the hive, until all the frames are replaced. I've started writing the date on the top of the frames so I know how long frames have been in the hive.
I'll update this page as time goes on to document what happens.
[Update 1/18/2018] I went into this hive today and they looked good. Lots of brood, lots of bees, lots of honey, no sign of any issues that I could recognize. I suppose they're doing fine. I didn't put the two new frames into the center of the top brood box. Maybe next time.
I put the bee quilt on the top of the hive. Here's a picture of my oldest hive with the bee quilt on it. The bees had made burr comb on the excluder, which I scraped off before I put the excluder back. That spilled some honey on the ground around the hive - they had stored honey in the burr comb. I took a hose and washed off the area (I don't want other bees coming and maybe start robbing) but I must not have washed all of it off. You can see bees at the base of the hive collecting the honey.
Here's a closer view of the bees cleaning up the spilled honey.
The hive inspection did not upset the bees too much, but I'll leave them alone for the rest of the day.
[Update 1/22/2018] The girls seem back to normal today. I see about the same level of activity on this hive as on my other two. I don't know if the bee quilt made any difference but it can't have hurt. We've had fairly cold nights recently (by southern California standards, down into the low 40's) but it doesn't seem to have had any negative impact on the bees.
I don't think that venting the hive with the bee quilt causes any problems for the bees in cooler weather. The bees cluster together in a ball and keep themselves and their brood warm within that ball from their muscle activity - they don't heat up the hive itself.
It was good to see them normally active.