Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The house swarms! and then this years nuc! Free bees!

Monday the house hive swarmed. 
We saw them just as they gathered together. 
16' up

I made 3 trips up the ladder.

I didn't count all of them, but it seemed like a lot of bees at the time. Probably half the size of the barn wall swarm last year that I was sorry I didn't have the knowledge or equipment to catch and hive them. That's what got me into bee keeping. Joined the club, took the class, and read everything I could all winter. Now I'm at the stage where I'm really good at thinking I know what I'm doing, and then when I go into the hive, I realize I don't really. In any case, somehow I fumbled around and managed to get them into a deep, while squishing numerous bees when the box slipped out of my hand, the queen somehow survived my assault and decided to stay. Lesson #1: Using an extra box to shake them into doesn't work well with a swarm. They just want to climb up into it.

While I was starting to write this today, the nuc-hive swarmed.

A couple of days ago when the rain stopped.
Just like the other swarm, we watched them starting to clump up.
 Guess I was feeding them too much & not keeping a close eye inside. I installed it about eight weeks ago, and thought it was to soon & they would freeze, but they made it.  However, I am pleased that they did swarm. One more free hive.. They all landed in a small plum tree about 8” up.

 In the meantime, I scrambled around making up 10 wired frames of foundation for this hive. The last swarm I made 8 top bars and 2 foundation & leveled it really well because I’m hoping they may want to make small cells as they are feral and the hive has been active for 30 or 40 years.. Of course I didn't have a top or bottom board made yet, so that was next. The bottom board is not screened as it was a quickie. Naturally this happened the day my #8 screen arrived at the hardware store. The top is temporary and is just a inner cover & an empty deep on top with a couple of 1qt. feeders inside. This time I just pulled the some of the center frames out and I dumped them in the hive and waited to see what happened.

 In about 30 minutes there were still lots of bees outside the box. I saw a clump of bees on the sheet in front of the hive and am pretty sure I saw the queen. I picked her up & she flew out of my hand, to return shortly & land on the frame I set on the ground for them to use as a ladder. She went in & everyone soon followed. This is the first time I've seen one of my queens! Now I have four hives! & of course the two in the buildings. I hope the barn hive doesn't swarm right away, I‘m way not ready. Last year it was a really big swarm, maybe too big for my 5 frame nuc?

The barn bees I missed,  maybe 12' up.

                                            Later, we went through the over-wintered hive.

It was in good shape with lots of bees and no sign of queen cells. I scrapped off a lot of burr comb.

 We found the queen, in the second to the last frame in the bottom deep. I think they know you are coming and the survival instinct kicks in & they run away. At least it seems that way. Plenty of honey & the workers were cleaning up the super of drawn comb we added last week. They hadn't drawn out comb on the five new frames of foundation we replaced in the bottom deep. It replaced some old black, crappy comb and frames. I'm wondering if I should switch the bottom deep with the top. This is the hive we were given last August that wasn't supposed to have any bees in it. It did, as well as about the same number of ants. I am kind of surprised they survived the winter. They had very little honey & a small population. I didn't know any better and didn't have feeders much less even know how to mix the sugar-water, so I just dumped several pounds of sugar on the inner cover. Evidently it was enough. Ignorance is bliss as they say. Which brings up the fact that the internet has been out since about 10:00am today and I never noticed it. Bliss I tell you! It's been an exciting two days.


  1. I just noticed I never followed your blog. I am sucha ditz sometimes but it is fixed now.

    Nice swarms. I personally love swarms and don't bother to stop them over much in my hives either. For years I tried but quickly found out that unless I did a full inspection every other day I couldn't really stop them and they never gave up trying. My new tactic is to try and go with the flow.

    To me beekeeping is like dating college girls. They are going to do what they want and nine out of ten of em couldn't even tell you why they want to do it or what it is they are doing until they all take off to do it. The best way to manage it is to be in the best position possible to benefit from whatever it is they are going to do. If you try and force em, even for their own good, they will just hate you for it.

    I am hoping our swarms will start this week or next, but it was a bad Winter and the hives took a lot of losses and didn't start building up until late.

  2. Thanks PP! The Willamette valley usually has mild winters.
    I'll try my best to get a picture of a young college girl on one of my tractors for you. I might have to wait until my wife is out of town, She may not approve. :-)