Friday, July 19, 2013

We have been busy and haven't been able to post for awhile.  There is a lot of news to tell.  The bees in the hive farthest away from the cabin swarmed while me and my dad were at camp.  Once I got home we contained the swarm and got rid of the queen cells.  They swarmed into a tree about 30 feet away and 6 feet in the air.  The swarm measured about 1.5 feet long by 1 foot deep by 6 inches wide.  There was probably around 8000-9000 bees in the tree.  

My mom and another local beekeeper caught the swarm because me and my dad were at a camp in Wisconsin (Tomahawk).  They found an empty super and then mom cut the branch while the beekeeper shook the bees into the super.  They left them below the tree until we got back.

My bees swarmed in a tree

Then we carried the supers full of the swarmed bees over to the hive that they swarmed from.  We had to decide if we were going try to move the swarmed bees to a new hive or try to put them back in there old hive.  We decided to put them back in their old hive because the swarmed bees wouldn't have enough time to gather honey and pollen before winter and would likely not survive the winter.  Also we didn't have any extra hives and we would have had to buy more.  

Dad bring the swarmed bees back to the original hive
When we brought the swarmed bees back to their old home we put a piece of newspaper between the two hives to prevent them bees from fighting.  This turned out to be a bad idea because the bees would just tear through the newspaper.  Once they saw the queen cells in the old hive they would probably swarm again.  We called Jim from Nature's Nectar to ask how he would do it.  He was very helpful.  He suggested that we combine the bees back into the same hive.  To do that we needed to switch the newspaper with plywood to keep the bees separated.  He also thought we should turn the hive around to try to fool the swarmed bees into thinking that they were in a new hive.  

Our first attempt at bringing the swarm back to the old hive.
Then we were to leave the swarmed bees on the plywood and give them an entrance facing the opposite way.  Dad made up a couple of boards to lift the hive so that they have could come in in and out.  About a day later we replaced the plywood with paper to to slowly unite the hive.  The paper had a small slit in it to let the bees go into the old hive.

Swarmed bees are on top of the old hive
Slit to let the bees into the old hive

Before we could put the swarmed bees on the newspaper we had to go into the old hives and look for queen cells and destroy them.  If we didn't the bees would probably swarm again or the new queens would come out and fight and kill the good queen.  There can been only one queen in a hive.

This is a queen cell on one of the frames.  The workers feed a larvae royal jelly to turn it into a queen.

More queen cells.
Jim from Nature's Nectar thought the reason the bees swarmed is probably because they were hot in there hive so we made them a bigger entrance by taking out the entrance reducer.

Taking out the entrance reducer

Bees coming and going from the old hive that swarmed

Hopefully the bees won't swarm again.  When the bees swarm they gather in huge numbers outside of the hive.  They also pig out on honey before they leave the hive to hold them until they find a new home.  That means less honey for me.  It also could mean less honey for the bees for over wintering.