For all ya’ll that do things in a timely manor, this is not for you. But for all ya’ll others, this is something to read and rejoice with me about. I have now joined the ranks of beekeepers that gets things done.
Remember I have been telling you to get your equipment ready and in shape so you can just pick up and go at a moments notice. Well…I did it finally. Last week I went to a young couple to take some bees off their hands. I just picked up two nucs, with frames, bottom boards, top boards and went. Didn’t even have to look and look.
Wednesday, I got a call to capture a swarm. I just picked up a brood box, bottom board, and top board and went. (Frames were already in the BB. When I got to the site, my friend, Roy, met me there and since I didn’t have drawn out comb, he loaned me a nuc box with five frames of comb.
The ideal scenario is to have a frame of brood in the box when putting the swarm in. The swarm will immediately start caring for the babies as if they belonged to them. Even if some of the bees don’t want to accept the box you give them, the nurse bees will not leave the babies. That will entice the other bees to set up housekeeping.
In my case, since I didn’t have a frame of brood, brood-comb is the next best thing. If bees used the comb for babies, then it is “good enough for us”. I set the swarm box up in my back yard with all the others and left them for 24 hours before I did anything. Today I got three empty nucs and and a deep super, put on my armor (bee suit), veil, smoker, and hive tool and commenced to put second stories on the three nucs and one full hive.
The way I did it is simple and also lets the bees know that a new cavity has been added to their homes. I pulled a frame of brood up into the second story into the center slot and replaced it with a foundation frame. The bees on the frames I pulled up will let the others know there is another room available. Since all my colonies are in the process of making babies, this was my best bet. If I was just putting on a honey super, then I would put a frame of honey in the new super in the center and score the top of the capped honey so it would drip down and the bees would then follow the honey to see why it started to run. They would repair the caps and start drawing out wax for more honey.
The reason I used deep nucs is that is all I have, except for one honey super for a nuc. I don’t use nucs for honey. I use them to make babies and when I get eight frames of babies and two frames of honey, then I put everything into a 10 frame brood box, unless I decide to split them and start a new set of colonies. That’s another story.
The reason I used a brood box for the ten frame colony is because I want the bees to draw out some more comb for later splits and swarms. Wet comb is a great enticer to stay for a new swarm also.
I still have to super one more colony and that will be tomorrow. I will probably put two honey supers on that one since I don’t get to visit it as often as I would like. I am not putting Queen excluders on as I am wanting bees at this point. I plan to make several splits this year to expand my colony count.
Now remember, I leave a honey super on the hive year round. Only in the first honey collection do I use that super. However, since I am wanting bees this year, I will probably not get too much honey this year as I am having the bees to draw out foundation and putting up enough honey for Winter.
Now I will be making plans to build some screened bottom boards to replace some that have deteriorated and at the same time make some more top boards. My nucs have no screened bottom boards at this time so I will probably make some screens for them too.
Ok, that is enough for now. I can talk all day about what to do but like some of you, I have to have someone to push me to get me started “practicing what I am preaching”.
I wish you a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day.