Saturday, May 12, 2012

Springtime is for Bees.

The warm spring temperatures have things moving along like gangbusters in the Bee Yard.  The Black Locust and Tulip Poplar blooms have come and gone, and the Bees were working hard bringing in nectar and pollen.  The early warm weather also meant an early start to the swarming season.  April was a busy month, and we received about 12 phone calls regarding Honey Bee swarms.  We captured 2 swarms, and referred the others to members of the beekeeping association.  One particularly nice swarm was discovered in Edwardsville, while Angie was at the park enjoying lunch and the nice weather.  I collected this swarm after work, and this hive is doing beautifully!  The Queen is very large, and is laying brood like I have never seen before.  Drawn frames literally FULL of eggs, larva, and capped brood.  Below is a picture of the swarm, hanging out on a limb in a Maple Tree.  This was a nice swarm to get:  Only about 10' off of the ground, right by the street.  I wish they were all this nice, and this easy!
Early April also brought temperatures warm enough to split our strongest hive.  With the assistance of a friend, who is a veteran beekeeper, we were able to perform 2 splits into 5 frame "Nucleus" hive boxes.  One "Nuc" was left to raise their own queen, and we placed a purchased queen into the other.  Both of these splits are doing well, and they have built up the colony to the stage where we put them into full sized hive boxes a week ago.  They are continuing to build up, and we have hopes that they will become strong, productive colonies in the months ahead.

With the addition of the swarms, and performing splits from existing hives, we ran out of room on our hive stand.  Going from 2 hives to 6 hives in a period of several weeks tends to do that!  So, we built another hive stand, and placed it 100' or so from our original hive stand.  Each stand now has 3 hives, with room for a couple more on the new stand.  Our goal is to keep 6 to 8 hives, until retirement time comes around.  It can be a chore to keep up with more than 6 or 8 hives, and with us both working full time, we want to make sure we keep our hive count to a manageable level.  It won't do us, or the bees, any justice to not be able to properly care for our hives.  Below is our new hive stand, with some full sized hives, and a couple of the 5 frame nuc's.
So, that's what we have been up to lately in the Bee Yard!  I'll shoot some photo's this weekend, and update again next week.  The weather continues to be perfect for bee foraging activity, and they are making honey!