April 21, 2016
The girls have been building up fast this spring, and as mentioned in my last two posts, we experienced two swarms in one weekend. Both were retrieved and rehived – one is happily rehomed in Green Hive, and the other in Blue Hive. However, the Blue Hive swarm left the hive (absconded) within a day. That left Blue Hive empty again.
I had planned to inspect the hives that same weekend to give them space and check their food, but with all the excitement, I had to postpone the inspections until they settled down. I took a half day from work several days later, when the weather was sunshiny and perfect. I could take my time and perform a proper inspection.
Preparation is important prior to inspecting. I had extra boxes, drawn frames, undrawn frames, honey frames (covered so as not to encourage robbing), fume board, tools, and smoker. You never know what you’ll find in these hives, so it’s good to bee prepared for any scenario. I’m much better about taking my time now, one hive at a time. They say “get in, do your business, and get out”. I follow this to an extent, but I’m also very careful to process what I find as I go, and make smart quick decisions that are most beneficial to the bees without rocking their world.
Purple Hive was filled with bees, honey and brood. They looked great and I was really hoping to find some queen cells so I could make an easy split for Blue Hive. I don’t need a queen cell to make a split. As long as they have good frames of eggs and larvae, they’ll figure it out themselves. But considering it takes ~3 weeks for them to make a new queen from scratch, then factor in the time for mating and laying, its much faster and less risky to just give them an nice fat ready-made queen cell.
I didn’t find any queen cells in Purple Hive, which indicates that they likely did NOT swarm. I set up a new box of checker boarded frames (honey on ends, and alternate drawn and undrawn frames in the center) and added it just above the bottom box to directly expand the brood chamber and give the queen plenty of room to lay and the other bees plenty of room to spread out. I put “Humpty” back together again and move on to Mint Hive.
Mint Hive, my active and temperamental Texas bees, had swarmed on Sunday and upon removing the inner cover, it was evident that their numbers had reduced, shown below.
I used the fume board to clear out and remove the top box. The other boxes were full of bees, honey, brood, and lots of queen cells. I snagged a frame w/ a gorgeous fat queen cell and transferred it to Blue Hive, along with some good honey and brood frames, and plenty of bees. A feeder was added and Blue Hive was back in business. I’m happy to report that they’re building up well and everyone seems healthy and happy.
Yellow Hive was much the same as Purple Hive. Lots of bees (shown below), but no signs of swarming. I gave them the same treatment, adding another checkerboard box above the bottom box, and letting them grow and prosper.
A few weeks later….Supers are on!!!
May 7, 2016
Within a week after the inspections, I added the supers. Wisteria is starting to bloom, dandelions are out, the nectar flow is on! We don’t want to miss a beat. Plus, the supers give them more space…always a good thing this time of year. Of course, as soon as the supers are added to Purple, Mint and Yellow hives, Mother nature drops the temperatures about 20 degrees and rains on our parade, for a week and a half straight! Ugh.
The girls jump at every opportunity to get out of the hives and forage. Purple Hive is bursting, so I’ll split them at my soonest opportunity. I need to find more space to put nucs and possibly more hives. The hubster will be thrilled…not.
Green and Blue hives are developing nicely. I’m keeping them fed. The garden is bursting and soon we’ll bee planting our veggies. Spring is already flying by fast!