Bees don’t read the books


It’s Mother’s Day in the US and rather than go out to eat, which is the norm, I wanted to stay home and work in the garden. Good thing! I was just about to head in for lunch when I looked out at the hives and saw bees EVERYWHERE. And I really mean everywhere, as in a 15-20 foot radius around the hives. I ran over, holding my hair down to keep bees out of it and stood just within that radius. The orange hive looked like it was bearding but I wasn’t sure if it was a swarm, because it didn’t coalesce at all, or if it was just loads of bees orienting (they were flying the way they do when orienting and then going off into the distance). My hunch is that they were not swarming.

Anyway, I geared up PRONTO and with my husband helping we started with the orange hive. Can I even tell you how many queen cells we found? Capped and uncapped, PLUS we found eggs and 3-4 day old larvae. If you read the books, they’ll tell you that when the bees are preparing to swarm, the bees will keep the old queen from laying to trim her down and make her “flyable”. That was not the case here. We looked in 3 out of the 4 hives and found loads of capped and uncapped queen cells in the orange hive and the pink hive (same genetics mind you!). We couldn’t find the old queens in either hive and decided to just make 2 splits. Took 2 frames with queen cells on them, another frame of pollen and honey and put them in my homemade nuc, dumped bees in there hoping some would stay. So I now have 2 nucs and the 4 hives.

As for the purple hive (we didn’t go into the aqua hive), it may actually be queenless as I found capped worker and drone brood, one uncapped queen cell but not a single egg. I’ll check it again in week or 2 and see what the deal is.

I had mentioned using the Taranov board, I need to make one to have it ready. To have a hive open, then close it, go make the board and open it again is just too much. Having whatever you may need, ready to go, makes all the difference. I am so glad we made that nuc box a few weeks ago; though today was extremely chaotic, it would have been much worse without that nuc!

I’ve been wanting a garden cart to haul my gear to the hives. Normally I have to carry my smoker to the shed, light it, get my frames and boxes ready just in case I need to swap anything out or add something. I carry all this separately to the hive stand and then reverse it after the inspection. Now I have this:

Hnady dandy garden cart! See the frame rest hanging off the back?
Handy dandy garden cart! See the frame rest hanging off the back? This is wide enough to hold my hive bodies. It’ll make harvesting honey easier too!

Just load it up and pull away, cleaning up was so much easier.

As for the new set-up, I have no idea if the nucs will work or not, but if they end up succeeding I’ll have to find a different place for them.

I sincerely hope they didn’t swarm, one of the neighboring beekeepers set up a swarm trap…

Two nucs in one deep.
See the nuc between the blue and pink hive? Two nucs are in that one deep.

While we were in the midst of some extremely unhappy bees, I heard one buzzing around my head but she sounded awfully close. I asked my husband to check my hood to see if she had latched on to the cloth and was readying herself for an attack on my head, turns out she was inside my veil! She had just attached herself to my hair via the HOLE that formed in the cloth! Thankfully hubby got her out before she got me, but then he grabbed some duct tape and closed the hole for me until I can actually fix it:

Stymied the attack bee!
Stymied the attack bee!

I’ll keep you posted on the nucs, I don’t think I can manage more than 4 hives, it’s just too much work for the little free time I have available. If everything ends up working, I may sell these. I also have some pictures of the garden I’ll post soon. I hope everyone is having a great bee season so far.


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