July 23, 2016, Saturday
Wow, this summer is flying by. Unreal. As much as I’ve think about updating everyone on the bees, we’ve just been so stinking busy this summer. We’ve had several more swarms since early summer, but other than that, the girls have been working hard gathering nectar and food and making honey. There’s hasn’t been much more to tell until now. So here’s a few bits to catch you up.
I can’t say I’ve experienced ant problems. We add a base to the bottom of each hive with PVC cups that I keep filled with water. They really help keep the ants and crawly critters out of the hives. But the other day I saw a TON of ants collecting at the base of one hive.
I thought of several options for removing them, but most are not good for the bees. What I came up with was cinnamon. I added several tablespoons of cinnamon to an old spice bottle and shook the cinnamon over the ants and around the base of the hive on the ground and on the cinder blocks. Worked like a charm. They picked up and moved someplace else that’s not around my hives.
I received a frantic call from my neighbor this morning…one of those “your bees are swarming!” calls. Ugh. I ran out and watched a large swarm of bees buzzing their usual 30+ feet up into a pine trees. I ran to my hives to see if I could tell which hive was the culprit. No signs whatsoever, just business as usual. Usually they all go nuts when one of the hives swarms. But they were quietly going about their business. So I have to wonder if it came from one of my hives, or maybe it was one of my swarms still looking for a place to live. To bee honest, I’m not sure how long swarms hang around before they find refuge or meet their demise.
Anyway, I had to do something, so I made a quickie swarm trap, as follows:
- I grabbed a copier box and cut a small hole in the bottom for an entrance.
- Added one frame of old comb and one frame of fresh foundation.
- Lined the inside with lemongrass essential oil.
- Added the lid and lined the outside of the entrance with lemongrass oil.
- Taped every possible opening to make it secure and ensure the entrance was the only place where they could come and go.
- Then found the hubster’s old ladder, climbed the tree and placed it between some strong branches and secured with cable ties. Not too bad, really.
Do I think it will work. Heck no, but I have a better chance than not doing anything at all. So we shall see.
On the honey front, I’ve collected about 5 or 6 frames and plan to collect more this weekend. They’ve produced lots of honey, but still a lot of capping to do. Unlike past years, I’m collecting as I go then will extract around Labor Day weekend.
One last thing, I have to introduce Pink Hive, our newest addition to the apiary. Pink Hive is a split from Purple Hive, and next week I’ll be checking to make sure we have a good laying queen. Purple Hive is my strongest hive, the one with the Pennsylvania queen. Purple Hive is one that swarmed recently. They are mite-resistant bees, they populate like crazy, make lots of honey, overwintered like a charm, and until now, haven’t swarmed. Plus, they’re gentle to work with. Polar opposite of my Texas queens. I bought my queen from Log Cabin Bee Farm. The mated queens aren’t cheap, but they are top quality and worth every penny. You only need one good hive to get more hives going. My goal is to get all of my hives transitioned to this amazing PA stock.
So there you go, the latest and greatest. The girls are doing great. At least they’re getting their swarming out of the way before it’s too late in the season. They still have time to build back up for winter. Fingers crossed for a good honey harvest! Happy summer everyone!