The last two weeks got away from me; by the time I got into the hives the ladies had managed to draw out about seven of the ten frames and build some burr comb where the missing frame was. They were extremely docile and seemed to be going strong.
While I was suited up, I also peeked into the other two older hives. Even with the early season swarming the hives were overrun with bees. They hadn’t began to pull on the frames in the supers, but I expect them to soon.
Here are some pics from the inspection: Read more
“A swarm in May is worth a load of hay,
A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon,
A swarm in July isn’t worth a fly.”
Late season swarming and a long, extremely cold winter resulted in the lost of five of our eight hives. Our two remaining hives have been going strong this winter and just recently swarmed.
“Swarming: the natural means of reproduction of honey bee colonies. A new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees, a process called swarming. In the prime swarm, about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen. This swarm can contain thousands to tens of thousands of bees. Swarming is mainly a spring phenomenon, usually within a two- or three-week period depending on the locale, but occasional swarms can happen throughout the producing season.” (Source: Wikipedia) Read more
My recently captured swarm – which split from another one of my hives that had gotten overcrowded – seems to be settling into their new hive, which my father constructed from two supers and a couple pieces of spare plywood. As soon as I have some extra money I will purchase a spare hive to have on hand in case they ever decide to swarm again. I ordered another hive and some honey supers, which should arrive today (thanks to Rossman Apairies’s great service and willingness to ship the same day I ordered to help me out!). I plan to put the temporary hive on top of the new hive I ordered, in hopes that over the winter they will travel down into the deep body and I can clean and reuse the honey supers for there intended purpose.
Now that the crowding in the hives is undercontrol I am dealing with a hungry blackbear! He has already forced me to move the hives from my house down to my parents, but they cluster of homes (and dogs) don’t seem to phase him, as he has been spotted curiously checking out my neighbors chicken coop the last couple of nights. Looks like an electric fence will be necessary!
Today, while at work, my mother called me to let me know that the honey bees decided to swarm. I left work and when I arrived home, I found that one swarm had already flown away never to “bee” found. The other swarm was still in the apple tree… a buzzing mass the size of two basketballs. My older hives are only in their second summer, so I had never experienced swarming bees, and missed signs that would have probably alerted me that they intended to take flight. After rounding up some branch choppers, a ladder, and my bee suit, dad and I cut branches away until I was able to reach the swarm. The sound of buzzing bees was incredible as dad cut the final branch and thousands of bees dropped down into a cardboard box inches from my head. After letting them calm down, I was able to hive the bees in a makeshift hives constructed of some spare plywood and two honey supers. While hiving them I did see the queen with her red dot drop into the frames… hopefully she is still safely inside and will make her home in the new hive.
This evening I consulted my books to read more about swarming. Things you should do to prevent swarming… avoid congestion, provide adequate ventilation, make the bees comfortable during hot weather, and remove queen swarm cells. I believe that my bees swarmed because of overcrowding. About a week ago I looked in my hives and noticed they had about two more frames to fill in the honey super… I had planned to add the second super this weekend; however, this was obviously wrong, as I should have added one immediately. Lesson learned. I will be watching my hives closely over the next couple of days to see how they fare. Read more