Thursday, April 24, 2008

Swarm = Hive #3!

I got a call from my wife that there was a swarm of bees on one of our camellia bushes in the back yard. Yikes - was this my bees leaving the hive?

So I got home and found a beautiful swarm embedded in the camellia bush, I decided to not worry about where it came from until later, right now I needed to get this swarm boxed. Well, I did have some more mediums, and some foundation (no drawn comb - this could make it less likely that they will stay), and a bottom board, but no top. I improvised and then went over to our favorite wooden ware guru later and got another top. Here is a picture of the box next to the camellia. I had strapped it thinking I was going to move it and then decided to leave it right were it was. The box had frames in the bottom box, but had an empty super on top to catch the bees.

Here are a couple of pictures of the swarm. I am cutting away the branches around it so I can get the branch out with the bees on it.

So, it is a mass of bees! As I am cutting all of a sudden half of the swarm drops and almost falls to the ground - there were two branches in there! So I took a small portion of the swarm and dumped it into the box. This picture show the swarm after the branch dropped off and almost split the swarm in half.

After I cut the main branch that contained the swarm I jerked the branch over the box and the bees fell neatly into the box (it was amazingly easy). The picture below shows the bees right after jerking the branch.

As I was getting the smaller branches with a few bees still hanging on the bees began collecting in one corner - I am hopeful that they were collecting around the queen (meaning I got the queen!) - see the picture below.

I then took about 6 frames frames of foundation and placed them in the top box. I only had six left made up, plus I did not want to squish the bees collected in the corner. I then put a couple of jars of sugar syrup right on these frames (I don't have another inner cover either) and closed them up.

Oh, yeah and so you know I really am a beginner, we at first had the screened bottom board on upside down and it just looked funny - we finally had to lift the box and flip the bottom board to get it right. Hopefully I did not completely freak the bees out.

Now to wait and see if they like there new home or they keep looking.

I did go into my other hives to see if these were my bees looking for a new home. My hives were still full of bees busy working. As stated last time Hive #2 is still the most active hive just about filling up the upper second box with brood and some stores. Hive #1 still seems strong but content in their bottom box?

So it looks like I got a free box of bees (if they stay).

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hive #2 is winning!

Beautiful day so I dove in to see what was going on.

Hive #2 (the swarm hive) is doing great. I checked the top box, they had pulled out most of the frames with comb and there was brood in many of the frames. I even got to see larva (I know old hat for many). If you blow up the picture below you can see what looks like crescent rolls inside the cells - these are larva or bees in development.

The picture below is the same frame from a broader view. You can see the capped cells on the left side. This looks like honey cells (nice and white) but it is surrounded by these larva? It will be interesting to see what this looks like in a week.

Since most of these frames were pulled and many filled I went ahead and put a 1/4 queen excluder on top of this box and added another box on top for hopefully honey! I used normal foundation in this box (foundation discussion to come...).

Hive #1 (split hive) still seems to be "holding its own". It is not really growing, but seems healthy enough, lots of bees, lots of stores and brood. They have still not pulled any comb on the top box although they are walking all over it. The single frame of pulled comb that I moved over they have put nectar in but that is all that is going on. Lots of activity going in an out - don't know?

Here is what my bee yard looks like now.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Nice warm day - went into the hive to see what was going on.

Went into Hive #2 first (the swarm hive). Things were going well. I checked in the upper super and they were pulling comb like crazy. I didn't check all of the frames but there were at least 6 of them being pulled! I closed it up and let them keep working. I thought this was a pretty picture of some of the freshly pulled comb.

I then went into hive #1. There still was no comb building going on in the upper super :( So, I went down into the brood box to see what was going on. I just looked at a couple of frames, but they were packed with stores and brood. Well, I was worried that these buggers just would move up and may start thinking about getting out of the box (swarming), so I took off the 1/4 queen excluder to give them unrestricted access to the top box. I then went back over to Hive #2 and "stole" a frame of the freshly pulled comb and put it in Hive #1. The hope is that that will get them started in the upper box. We'll see! Here is a picture of a frame of brood in the bottom box.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A new body

So my swarm catcher friend wanted his box back, so I had to transfer the bees from his box to my box. This wasn't very hard, but was a little intimidating, especially when I had about half the frames in the old hive and half in the new and bees were everywhere. They were pounding my veil but I did not get stung - yet. I also had a hard time keeping the smoker lit with all this going on. But, I got them transferred and they spent the rest of the day reorienting - again. Here is the set-up tonight:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Building up

So, I went out this morning and added a super with frames and a feeder box to the new hive. The hope here is that the bees move up from the plastic foundation onto my wax foundation so I can give the plastic foundation back to the swarm catcher.

He came over this afternoon and we replaced four of the plastic frames, that the bees had not done much on yet, with my frames. I put in medium frames as I'd like to get this hive onto mediums eventually - just experimenting. I have also used 4.9 mm foundation on this hive to try to help with Varroa (I'll 'splain when I'm not so sleepy). The bees were definitely out and orienting!

We'll see!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hive #2!

Well, I got a call from a fellow club member that had captured a swarm and wondered if I wanted it. Well, of course!

He had been called to a school that had been having some bee trouble. Not being able to find any nest at the school, he decided to put a hive on top of the school an see what happened. In about a week when he went back to check on it a whole swarm had taken up residence.

So, we went over there tonight, covered the entrance and brought the box to my backyard. I'll let it set tonight and then put a medium and feeder on top in the morning. That will also allow me to take a peek inside and see what is going on. Here is a picture of the box and its big brother. Notice there are a bunch of bees at the entrances even at 8:30 at night.

Earlier in the afternoon I also took a peek inside hive #1 (now I have to name them :). They still had not drawn anything on the super on top. I did check a few frames in the bottom box and they seem to be doing fine. Lots of pollen, nectar, capped honey and brood. So, I just buttoned them up and let them bee.