Monday, August 15, 2016

A day in the apiary by beekeeper Fred

I had planned a simple day in the apiary today.  All I planned to do was put 5 queens cells in nucs that had already been stocked with bees.  Shouldn't take more the a 1/2 hour I thought.

Arriving in the apiary to pick up the queen cells I heard that distinctive roar of a swarm.   Swarms are supposed to occur in May and June; not the hot dog days of August.  But there it was 30 feet up in a wind break tree  Not one to let a $100 bill slip through my fingers I quickly went and fetched the chain saw.  I was able to drop the tree rather gently.   After clearing away the branches I located the swarm and they started marching into the empty hive I provided.   But they didn't settle in immediately.   A large group continued to hang out at the entrance; so I started a search for the queen.  About 5 feet away I luckily spied a small cluster of bees on a leaf.  There she was; a small virgin queen being attended by about 5 bees.  After two tries I captured this flighty queen and laid her at the hive entrance.  She happily scurried in and was soon followed by the large group at the entrance.  Success!

I thought I better start feeding them so they can get through the winter.  So I was walking through the apiary looking for a hive top feeder, but was interrupted again.  About 100 feet away there at my feet was another swarm.  Just a mass of bees, 3 feet in diameter, on the grass.  Slid another empty hive next to the swarm and they too started marching in.  Checked a half hour later and quickly found the queen in her new home.

Both hives now have a hive top feeder with sugar water to help them settle in.  I guess some days you just get lucky.  Didn't get stung either!   Tomorrow I start pulling honey supers.  I suspect I won't get off sting free then!

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