Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Apiary has Doubled!

I went into this season with 3 hives and now I have six!  This week I have caught 3 swarms, one of them twice! I have now put a piece of a queen excluder over the entrance as Pioneer Preppy suggested.  I love this idea to keep them from swarming again but then again I am  concerned if it is a virgin queen she will not be able to mate.  Oh the worries.

One swarm was huge and it was not a good catch.  Maybe that is why they swarmed again the next day.  I pissed them off royally.  The pictures do not even do it justice.  I took the trap down from the tree and it was heavy.  After I got the trap open and lifted the top up, the beard hung almost to the ground.  Unfortunately I could not hold the trap and get that picture at the same time.  When I moved to put the top over the hive and shake it, I tilted the top causing half of the beard to break and land in a big clump beside the hive.  Mind you I am working in the dark with only a light I have on my golf cart seat aimed in my direction.  This picture is from the first shake into the hive.

These were the bees still left clinging after my first shake.  There were just as many in the other half of the trap. I had to shake them back down and bump them hard again to get them in the hive.
These were what was left on the ground after I brushed some with the bee brush into a bucket and put in the hive.

I knew I had the queen when the ones remaining outside were doing the bee butt dance and started heading in.
 The next afternoon they decided to swarm again but I caught them in the act.  I saw them land in the small cedar and weighing down the limb.  I went and suited up and this time remembered to put a sheet on the ground where I was working.  They were bearding on a limb just above my head.  Papa Bear took this picture after I had climbed the ladder.  You can see the limb I cut  on the ground and the bucket with the bees after I shook the limb.  I got that bucket load shook into the hive, bungee corded everything up so I could go back and get it early evening.  All the strays will head inside one they catch a whiff of the queen.


While I was getting these bees into the trap, I was all of a sudden in another cloud of bees.  A swarm was coming across the bee yard from the back of our property and heading for one of my traps on the east side of the apiary.  For once I know I caught a swarm that wasn't my bees!  It was awesome!
Here they come!  Pouring into the trap.  I got them last night too with no incidents.  I worked all of my hives yesterday and have honey almost ready to harvest! 

It is definitely swarm season in NW Florida!  I only have one more empty brood box.  I have to get busy and build more or take down my traps.  I do have two five frame nucs should I catch a small swarm.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Are they going to Swarm?

I went out around 7 AM to the apiary to feed the new girls some sugar syrup and saw this on the front of one of my hives.  Is it a start of a build up for them to get ready to swarm?  I have seen them do this when it gets very hot here but the temps are cool in the 60's this morning and very cloudy.  If they swarm I hope it is to one of my traps!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Caught a Swarm today!

Papa Bear found a swarm on one of the traps.  I don't know if they had stopped to rest or were trying to make up their mind if they were going to move in.  They were bearding up on the bottom of the trap which is only about 5 feet off the ground.  It is real close to my apiary so it may even be one of my hives that swarmed.












I decided not to wait until night to get them just in case they were resting.  I put on my bee suit and got my gear together.  I put the new brood box underneath the trap, removed the top and the frames from the center and shook the bees into the brood box. When I opened the trap there were about 50 or so bees inside so I am glad I decided to take them as they were probably just resting there.  It took a while for them to settle.  I was beginning to wonder if I had the queen as they started gathering on a nearby fence post and were making very little attempt to go into the brood box.  I finally decided to leave them alone and see what happens.   I went to check on them a few minutes ago and there are only a few outside the brood box.  Most have gone in and they are no longer roaring like before.  Just at dark I will attempt to move them to the apiary.

Three more of my traps are showing a little activity at them.  Maybe I can make them stay this year.  The two swarms I caught last year absconded in a day or two and my splits just never worked but I learn something new each time.

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