Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Living with Bees

The wife has two hives of bees now. They are very interesting little critters. When we went to a seminar for beginning beekeepeers, we were told two things. One if you ask 12 beekeepers a question you could be 12 different answers, and two bees can't read. No matter how many books you read on bees in real life they will do what ever they want to. So on Sunday morning when we could hear bees buzzing from the backyard (the hives are about 100 yards away) we knew something was up. As we approached the hives this is what we spotted in a nearby locust tree.
We had a swarm. The queen had left the hive and taken part of the worker bees with her.  They were a good 25 feet off the ground and it didn't look good on recapturing them , but a call to our bee mentor and he was on his way to try.
The plan was to hook the bucket on its long pole with its wooden hook over the limb and under the swarm and shake the bees into the bucket hopefully getting the queen to fall in with a good number of worker bees. It's the scent of the queen that draws the workers, so if you can capture her the swarm will follow.
With the use of a long handled brush he definitely got them stirred up.  I missed getting pics of the next step as it involved him handing me  the pole with the bucket and shaking the bees out of the bucket into a small hive box. This is what it looked like after I did my part.
The next step was to sweep the bees into the hive box and close it up, hoping that the queen was in that mass of bees. The wife's ready with the lid 
With a large part of the swarm trapped inside the hive box we opened the hive that we suspected them of leaving, looking for clues.
What we found was 3 more queen bees in the hive. The oldest queen is suppose to kill the new queens as they hatch unless the hive is overcrowded, which didn't seem to be the case, so our mentor took two queens with him and left one in the hive. We took the removeable bottom off
the small hive box and set it on top of the original hive so the bees could migrate down into the home hive. The next morning there as still a small swarm on the limb telling us the the queen was still up there. Several hours later they were gone in search of a new home in some hollow tree which doesn't upset us as our original goal to raising bees was to increase the native bee population. We still have plenty of bees left in the hive to produce a little honey for us this fall. Raising bees, it's not a boring hobby.                                                                                                            

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