Two things come to mind, referring to the title of this blog. One is that I have bees again, and two, I am posting a blog after a long delay.
My phone rang not too long ago and a man said that he had a swarm of bees out by his mailbox next to the driveway. He couldn’t get into his front door and he had to park in the back yard. His kids could’t go outside to play even in the back yard because of the bees. I asked how big the swarm ball was and he said about a basketball size.
Well, I thinks that that is a good size to start my beekeeping again, so I gets me equipment together and goes to his house. No one is there. so I look around near the mailbox and find a swarm of bees in the bush next to the road. I see that it is only about the size of a softball. Where is the basketball cluster? I call the man’s cell phone and he says that the one I found (softball) was the one he was referring to. Rats! I wouldn’t have come if I knew it’s real size.
Since I was prepared for a large swarm and only brought a 10 frame brood box, and I was already there, I shook the pint sized cluster into the big-g-g box. It was a great day in the big outdoors so the bees were sending out scouts to look for a better place to set up housekeeping and to maybe see about some grocery stores in the area. I decided to leave my box and return later in the evening around dusk or later, as it turned out to be.
I got home and left the bees in the back of my truck till morning. I did get up before the bees and moved them to the back yard (I use my back yard for a first aid station). At that time, I opened to see how many bees I had. There was enough to barely cover two sides of a frame. I would let them rest for a day and then feed them, hoping that they would decide that the big brood box was too big and leave.
Two days later, I got a call to get a swarm and I took a five frame nuc to hive a basketball size swarm. It turned out to be closer to a soccer ball size. I retrieved it after dark and decided to take it to the back yard once I got home so it wouldn’t decide to leave because of all the moving around. I had already made some sugar syrup so the next morning, I traded the 10 frame box for a 5 frame nuc ( the weak colony was happy and contented so needless to say they didn’t move), and placed an empty nuc on top of the strong colony and proceeded to feed both colonies.
It took the strong colony 2 days to empty the quart jar of sugar water and took the weak colony four or five days to empty their quart jar.
Now for the”Rest of the story” as Paul Harvey used to say. The little colony has one frame of babies, open and capped brood. Since I did not give them any pollen substitute, they had to find some in the neighborhood enough to feed the larvae. I checked only because they are the weakest. I have not bothered the other hive except to open the top long enough to see that the bees were covering all the frames in the second story. I will be checking more thoroughly this next week. That is when I will clip and mark the queens. This year the color is RED.
If you want to know the International Color Code, then here it is: Years that end with 1 or 6 = Green; 2 or 7 = Blue; 3 or 8 = Black; 4 or 9 = Red; 5 or 0 = Yellow. This way when you want to know the age of you queens, then the color will tell you. If you don’t find the marked queen and you do find an unmarked queen then you know she just hatched this year.
About 12 days later, I didn’t get around to clipping and marking the queens, but I did add a nuc to the weak colony and took the strong colony out of the double stacked nuc boxes and placed them into the 10 frame brood box. They have grown to a strong 10 frame hive. I an going to fix some medium supers and place some frames with foundation in the supers to give the bees something to work on.
I know—you are going to tell me that the bees will not draw out foundation unless a nectar flow is on and we are now at the end of the nectar flow. However, you remember that in the Spring, we feed 1:1 sugar water to jumpstart the egg laying. Well, I am going to feed them so they will think a flow is on and start the queen to laying eggs. In order for her to have place to lay, the bees will have to build wax cells. They can use the sugar water to manufacture building wax. Then when the Fall flow arrives, I will stop the sugar water and let the workers continue on as they would normally. By the time Spring gets here, they will have used and/or eaten all their stored sugar water and will be ready to put real nectar in the pantry.
On a side note, man called me to get a large swarm of bees from in front of his house. He was having repair work on his house and he didn’t want the workers stung. Since I have had no good descriptions of the swarms in the past, I only took a nuc and my wife and proceeded to go to his home. When we got there, My wife looked for the bees while I knocked on the door to keep the repairmen from calling the cops thinking I was stealing from them.
The man said that a girl had already come and collected the bees and just left minutes before I showed up. He said that the bees were hanging down from a branch of the short tree and nearly touched the ground. He spread his arms and the distance was about 1 1/2 ft by alittle over 2 ft. I am glad that They were picked up as I only had a nuc and all I would have done would have been to drive them off to somewhere else.
If you have any questions about honeybees, honey, equipment, or books, make a comment at the bottom and I will try to answer your inquiries.