In the last few years, I’ve started my primary beekeeping management activities around mid-March. This year, the weather was so horrendous that I did not get a good start until March 31. Since then, it’s been a 5 star Spring. I have created about 80% of the Nuc’s that I plan to do this year, gotten supers on all hives and done various other management activities that are important at this time of year! I’m feeling good, but wary…
There are so many things to relate that I’ll never get it all in one post. But, I will start on ‘swarms’. I have had 4 swarms so far. Luckily, I was able to take advantage of two of them. During the first weekend in April, I decided to tackle the three full hives that I keep in my backyard. The first one that I opened had capped queen cells on frame TWO!!! Needless to say, I was not pleased. I went ahead and created a couple of Nuc’s with a few of them and made sure to leave several in the donor hive. While I was putting the hive back together, I glanced over at my ‘swarm tree’. It’s an evergreen where tons of my swarms seem to like to land. Lo and behold, there she was! A big fat swarm, sitting there on the tree! After finishing with the hive, I dropped that baby into a box and let her roll. One down.
The next hive looked great – I created a couple of Nucs off of this one too and set it back up with some drawn foundation for an eventual move to the country later in April. The third one was the wildest, however. It also had a bit of a learning experience for me.
The second I opened the last full hive in my backyard, bees started to pour out of it. Primarily out of the entrance, but some out of the top. In my experience, this typically means that I’m about to get lit up by a cranky hive. I braced myself….but nothing. I kept waiting, as I watched them pouring out of the hive like it was on fire. Hoping nothing was wrong, I went back to the inspection. It finally occurred to me that these bees were swarming right now! The air was alive with bees and a low hum. I kept an eye on them as I went through the hive to find swarm cells.
Now, this is the interesting part – I found a few queen cups with royal jelly in them, but none were extended much less capped. I had been told that the bees swarm when the cells are capped – this is clearly not the case. I’ve definitely seen the queen STILL in the hive with capped cells (so, they were going to swarm well after capping) and now I found them swarming well before the cells are capped. As with everything to do with bees, the rules are simply not ‘black and white.’
That swarm landed nearby and was easily captured too. The other two hives that swarmed (I’m pretty sure one was actually a supercedure, based on the low amount of bees in the hive, one open queen cell and the few capped brood about) did so outside of my view. Regardless, I’m pretty happy about how things are progressing. I’ve been in tons of strong hives that were used to create Nuc’s and now have 1 or 2 honey supers on them.
There have been tons of other adventures (and a few weak hives that I’m watching), but that’s it for now.