Thursday, May 7, 2015

May 2015 Update - Excitement!

Lots of action in the bee yard. The lone survivor hive that I had was quickly filling up, so on 4-18, I made a decision to pull the queen with two bars of brood and one bar of nectar and put them in a nuc.
I checked the one hive on 4-26 and found that they had filled it up!
Almost to the last bar.
Every comb covered!
In the last pic above, notice the push pins, marking how many bars had capped queen cells. This was kinda planned and certainly expected, so I made three one comb nucs (with a couple shakes of bees in each) to recieve these cells on the next day. The next day (27th), I placed a queen cell in each nuc, hoping they would hatch and I would have extra queens and possibly grow the nucs enough to overwinter.

The Poplar flow was going good, so on 5/2 I checked the hives. The main hive was still crowded, so I gave them space, since I removed a few combs for the nucs. I didn't go all the way through the combs. The nuc with the queen I pulled was laying and they seemed to be doing well. Two of the mating nucs had the queen cell on the floor (guess I didn't press them in the comb good enough), but bees were still tending them, so I left them alone. Third mating nuc had it's cell chewed open, for there were cells on the comb that I put in and I didn't see them.

Monday morning (5/4), I looked at the outside of the big box before I left for work and they were bearding alot, so I figured they would soon swarm no matter what I did. When I got home that afternoon, sure enough, no bearding, but foragers working good. I went looking around for the swarm, but didn't find them.

Tuesday afternoon (5/5), I looked on the outside of the hive that swarmed and noticed a bee on the end of the box with a worker on top of it. It was a queen, probably just hatched from that box. I quickly got a cage and put her in it, then layed her inside in the shade and commenced checking the hives. The big hive had definitely swarmed, but they had a queen, and also more capped cells. One of the mating nucs' cell was opened, but no sign of a queen. I took the caged queen and put her in there. Come to think of it, that could be where she came from and just got confused on her way back from mating (although she still looked kinda small).

Then I walked around looking at the bees working the Privet in my yard and noticed a good amount of bees in one place. Upon further investigation, it was a swarm, close to the ground in a tangled mess of honeysuckle. I quickly got a box ready and got my son to help. I finally found the queen in the mess, caged her and put her in and the rest followed.

2015-05-05 swarm catch

So it's been busy this year so far. And all this action from one box of bees!

Also, check out my new found beekeeping friend here: Follow him as he begins his new journey.

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Early Spring 2015 Update

Lots of drone brood. A good sign.
Hard winter! It has claimed 75% of my small bee yard this year. Truthfully, It started with the crazy Spring last year. The three out of four hives that didn't make it all had at least one thing in common: high winds upended them all at different times during the Spring / Summer / Fall, and along with other factors, they didn't have much of a chance of survival in the harsh Winter that they faced.

The lone hive that survived it's second winter with flying colors is doing great, as shown. I took a look at her today and here's what I found:

Date: March 24, 2015
Weather: high 60s, mostly sunny, breezy

Lots of bees, lots of worker and drone brood, and plenty of stores. This hive is healthy. We're expecting a cold snap this weekend, and, after that, I expect she won't be too far from swarming mode.

God's amazing creatures.
Some observations from last year's experience:
  • Any splits that are made, I plan to feed until they stop taking, and then any time they experience dearth during the first season, just to give them a chance to make it through the winter.
  • I have experimented with different ways to anchor the boxes so they won't be ravaged by the high winds. I also need to get some trees on the west side of the yard for a little added protection.
  • Late summer checks will be more thorough, in order to make sure the hives are prepared for the winter.
I have yet to make any real "honey harvest", period, from any of my colonies. It's not a problem for me. The main concern is the bees' hardiness. The survivor colony has made it through two winters, now, and they look to be going strong. Now, if only I can not mess it up!
Spring is here!!!

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