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!!!


  1. Hello Dave! I just found your blog. I love it! I just finished building a Top bar Chandler style Hive (no bees yet) We were too late to order packaged bees this spring, but we are trying to catch a swarm at a friends house that has bees in a large hardwood tree. I really need some old comb, I think, to help lure them in. We are using lemongrass oil too. I live central Alabama. Do you have any advice?

    1. ZEB,
      If it is indeed a swarm, meaning the bees have left their home and are temporarily hanging out at the tree until they find a new home, they might just stay in your hive by shaking them in or cutting the branch (if possible) and lowering them in the new box. In this case, the oil may be all they need.

      However, if this is an established colony you are talking about, meaning they are using the tree for a permanent home (already built comb, been there at least a season, etc.), it will take a lot more effort. Frankly, you would have to either cut the combs out of the tree and place some of the brood combs in the box with the bees on them, look for the queen and get her in the box, and usually the others will follow her, assuming all the combs are removed from the tree.

      Lastly, you could do a trap-out, where you fix a funnel to the entrance of the tree where the bees can get out, but not back in, but this approach is a low percentage way, and most of the time you already need some bees in the box you are wanting them to go to near that entrance so the "blocked-out" bees will have somewhere to go.

      Personally, I usually would leave bees alone that are established in a tree, unless they have become a nuisance to the owner and they want rid of them.

      Hope this isn't too confusing. E-mail me with an address I can reply to and let me know what you come up with, or if you need any help.

  2. Hello Dave,
    Thanks for the response. My email is zebcorod@gmail.com


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