Sunday, July 2, 2017

It's bee swarm season

It's the tail end of the honey bee swarm time of year; my hives have produced 4 swarms this year; this is the latest.  It's a big swarm; the origin hive was booming and I'm happy to see this queen doing so well.  Here's a video of what it looked like in the fruit tree the swarm chose
 

20170702_170425 from bruce king on Vimeo.
 
To capture the swarm you need a container of some sort.  In this case I had a couple of honey supers (bee boxes usually used to contain surplus honey produced by the hive), but you could use a cardboard box for transport purposes. 
 
What you want to do, the only thing you have to do, is capture the queen bee.  Every other bee will follow.  But I've actually never seen a queen bee in a swarm - there's just too many other bees surrounding her.  So I orient my box below the swarm, and then pull a couple of frames out of the box to give the bees some room, and then give a firm shake to the branch.  Most of the bees fall off the branch, and this next video is about 3 seconds after I shook the bees onto my capture box. 
 

20170702_170826 from bruce king on Vimeo.
 
My goal was to get most of the bees into the box, and I got a big part of them, but there are still a lot of bees outside the box.  So I carefully, gently, put a lid on the box to partially restrain the bees there - there's a big hole in the top of the lid and the bees can enter the bottom of the hive too, and then I watch the bees to see what they do. 
If I've captured the queen - if she's in the box - the entire swarm will go into the box without any further action on my part.  So this video is me watching the bees to see what they'll do
 

20170702_171836 from bruce king on Vimeo.

More bees are going in than coming out, and so I figure that I must have captured the queen.  Now I go away for a couple of hours to let the bees sort themselves out; I'll check the box around sunset; it'll be full of bees and any stragglers that haven't found the hive by then probably won't, so I'll cap the entrance and then move the new hive back to the bee yard. 

My standard hive is two deep supers on the bottom, with honey supers above.  I didn't have any deep supers ready, so I'll disrupt the hive once more when I move the bees from these honey supers to their new permanent home.  I'll probably take a comb of honey from another hive and give it to this hive so that they have plenty of food available, and I'll probably offer this hive new wax to build new, fresh comb with. 

Swarming will cause the bees to build new comb, and while building new comb does take time and energy - honey - having them build a new set of combs for this hive is a good practice.  Nice clean house for them to live in.  I'll provide flat sheets of wax that are stamped with hexagons. 

I don't expect any honey production from this hive this year, but I do expect them to produce enough honey and pollen to keep themselves in good shape this winter. 



 

 
 
 



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