Esme's adventures in beekeeping continued.
The bees are doing really good, so good that they decided to swarm. Thier hive is filled with honey and brood. I put a super on the 4th of July weekend. The Super is where they will make honey for you. The honey in the first two brood boxes or deeps is their store for the winter. So I have two deeps, a queen excluder and a super. Two weeks ago I Dh and I were over by the hive and he said, whats that over there in the tree. I say where, over there..... so I look and Im OMG its a swarm!
Its huge! My bees swarmed. When a colony swarms they take the old queen with them and half to 3/4 of the hive leave to go reproduce. I called my friend Caroline who is also a female beekeeper in the town I live in and I tell her whats going on. She says I will be right over. She wanted to catch it. I told her I didnt want to catch because I dont have anything to put them in. As soon as she pulls up not even out of her car they start to leave to wherever they decided to make their new home. Darn it!! It was an phenominal sight, loud buzzing a cloud of bees moving over head. When the bees are in swarm mode they are at their most docile state. My friend wants to see if they will land in her bait box.
In her box is some bait which is lemon tree oil and some honey comb.
They are moving right along.... we are running after them on the ground to see where they are going. We chase them through three neighbors yards and lost them across the strawberry field.
Last Sunday I am in the bee yard checking on the hive and I notice they are acting a little strange.
They are on the front of the hive and flying all around not back and forth like they usually do when they are foraging. I go and tell Dh that the bees are acting weird and I think they are going to swarm again. So we go and watch them and sure enough they swarm again! UUUUUUgh. Not happy, that means my bee population is only a quarter now.
They land almost in the same spot as the other swarm. They are much smaller.
So we knew that since the original queen left with the original swarm that her first daughter would be born a week later which was pretty much spot on with the timing of the second swarm. When a colony decides to swarm the original queen leaves at least 5-6 queen cells behind to secure the fate of the colony.
I am looking at the frames the day of the swarm. This is a perfect frame....except for the queen cells. There is capped brood which are bees getting ready to emerge, nectar and capped honey. Do you see the queen cell below the arrow. That is a swarm cell. If I had gone in there 3 weeks ago I would of seen it.
There is also a Supercedure cell ^
3/4 of the way up. So they were planning something.
I put out two bee bait boxes. I have never caught a swarm before and am afraid to do so so I thought hoping they would just choose one of the bait boxes. Day four last night. Dh texts me and says they are still there. Okay so lets catch them! I get home and thankful it is a sunny day, no drizzly fog which would put them in foul mood. We decide to put the NUC box on a sheet and cut the branch that they are on. I had dh handle the branch and I cut it. I dont think I would of been able to lift the branch with the bees on it. We walk it over to the box, put the swarm clump over the box and hit the branch with a hammer. They fall pretty much perfectly into the nuc box. Dh says how do we know the queen is in there. I says see the bees with their butts sticking up in the air? That means that the queen is in there and they are telling their sisters.... this way.
After we knew the queen was in the box then they pretty much just marched up into the box. It took them about an hour.. Dh made them a sugar water because I know they are starving being up there for 4 days and no honey in their nuc.
So now I have two hives which are pretty much the same size.
The bummer is it is possible that the original hive will swarm again. I spoke to the guy that sold me the nuc and he said to go in there and see if the new queen is laying good and if so then to cut out the queen cells that I can see. If the new queen is not laying good then leave the two biggest cells and cut out all the rest.
So we will see what happens. I could lose them all. The new ones might not like their new home and swarm again. The new virgin queens may not find any drones to mate with since it is so late in the year. Everyone is boggled as to why they swarmed this late in the year.