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March Swarms

So, here I am, fairly confident that we are only about 2 weeks ahead of schedule in my beekeeping world and a buddy pings me with a large swarm caught in New Kent County, yesterday!!! For the most part, I have to tell myself that Mother Nature knows best, but having seen hives swarm in November (0% chance of success here), I know she sometimes is just experimenting…

Regardless, I took a few hours off today to dig into some of my Henrico hives to see where they were. Based on my findings, there are a few walking drones about and, maybe, a few flying, but I cannot believe this is a good time to create a Nuc yet. I created one, off of a very strong hive, just for kicks, but am thinking that this Saturday is going to be my first big Nuc day, with the following two weekends being even bigger.

For me, the main focus right now is prepping for April. I want lots of frames with foundation and a good bit of prepared drawn comb for the coming weeks. In general, I have found that placing foundation in hives (in March) does nothing to increase space in a hive. The bees do not seem to really draw out those frames – all I have accomplished is to reduce the number of frames that they are working! But, come mid-April, all of that changes and they readily accept the foundation.

The final oddity that I will mention is that I discovered that one of my queens had somehow gotten above the queen excluder over the Winter… Things like this turn an inspection from a 20 minute “breakdown/clean/level” to a 45 to 60 minute “hunt for the witch”. Fortunately, I found Her and she was marked Blue! Argh! There goes the “they must have had a late 2016 swarm and the virgin moved up there before she became big” theory! This one was my fault. My note taking has become somewhat lax or exists on multiple pads or scraps of paper (never easy to find!) So, I bit the bullet and started to use Hive Tracks. We shall see how it goes.

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