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.

10 comments:

  1. As I understand it virgin queens don't swarm. Of course I have seen things that seem to be the exception to the written rule so many times with bees I guess anything is possible :)

    I did have one swarm a couple years ago that the queen excluder trick didn't work on. The bees ended up swarming and left the queen with only a few bees behind. Not sure what their problem was.

    Yep your gonna need to get busy making some more bee hives!!! Gratz on the catches.

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    1. Thanks Preppy.. Somewhere I read if it is the second swarm from the same hive it could be a virgin queen but like you said who knows? Not me!..I am just glad to get more hives going. I really want to check these and see if comb is being drawn and if eggs are being laid but we have had nothing but torrential rain when I could find time to do a check.

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  2. Mamma Bear,

    Buzz ......buzz......buzz said the bee to the bee keeper!!!!

    Oh my, you have your hands full. Enjoy your capture!
    Give my favorite Marine a big hug for me.

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    1. Sandy...this bee stuff is so much fun. I never would have dreamed I would enjoy being in a cloud of bees! The honey is just the icing on the cake! I haven't forgotten you either.

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  3. Lucky!!! My swarm traps are hung but all I've seen is wasps :/

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    1. Kelly....I need to send you one of my homemade flower pot traps! Are you baiting your traps? I put a q tip with the cotton ends soaked in lemon grass oil in each trap. I rebait it every week or two.

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  4. Congratulations on your expanding hive! You and PaPa Bear will have a lot of honey this winter! :)

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    1. Thanks Angela. I hope to harvest some soon! I left the fall honey on the hives for the bees last year as I suspect it was Goldenrod which I heard makes the honey smell like dirty socks! I may take a few frames this fall just to see (smell)...LOL

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  5. Hey, it's been awhile since you posted. Everything OK up in your part of FL?

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