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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What a Crazy Swarm Season

Things have been a bit crazy since my last post.  We have been getting quite a few swarm calls that have taken Dawn and I all over the area from Casey to Altamont to Effingham to Newton to Neoga.  One day we had four calls and captured three swarms (the other moved on before we got there).  I'm not sure how many swarms we have captured but the farm looks like the making of a science fiction movie...Invasion of the Hive Boxes!  At last count we have 3 hives in the north beeyard (however, two somehow lost queens, so something has to be done there), 10 hives in the primary beeyard, and 11 hives around the house area.  Like I say, it's been crazy.  Yesterday's bee call was from Kenneth Wolf near Neoga.  They have had multiple swarms from the hives in their apiary and have run out of empty hives, so they have called me twice to collect swarms.  The swarm was way up in an apple tree, and Keneth's older brother, Herman, a 91 year old WWII vet lifted me up in the bucket of a backhoe!  That's a first for me!!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Casey Swarm Capture - Take 2

Yesterday I had the please of taking my lovely wife to Terre Haute for the I could get a root canal.  The procedure went well and on the way home we stopped by the Ramsey's to look at their bee situation.  We had removed a swarm the other night, but the day before they had another swarm come to the same tree.  Well, this swarm moved into the same hole as the first swarm, were building fresh honeycomb, and the foragers were bringing in nectar and pollen.  I vaccuumed up the bees that I could (actually quite a few bees), and I sprayed the remaining bees and inside of the hive with insecticide to hopefully end this nusance bee problem.  I always hate having to kill a swarm of bees, but the location was not going to work being it was 10 feet from their garage door and a few yards from a school yard. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Up Close and Personal

Here is a photo of a bee from last night's swarm capture....a bee in mid-flight.

Creating Mating Nucs

No swarm calls was all about Queens.  I received a call from Michelle Barnick, Treasurer for the Crossroads Beekeepers, and relatively new beekeeper.  She had two hives going into winter, but one died and her surviving hive lost it's Queen.  My grandson, Elijah, and I met Michelle at the farm this evening and swapped a frame of drawn comb for one with eggs and day old larva on it.  Hopefully her hive will grow a new queen from some of the larva.

Next I tore into my Buckfast hive that I received from Lonnie Langley last year.  I removed the Queen last Wednesday, and the hive started raising new Queens with many cells on five frames.  I divided the frames and hive into five groups: four I placed into mating nucs, and the fifth I left in the original hive.  We'll see how they do with raising their Queens.

I also took a photo tonight of my top-bar swarm trap.  We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's Swarm Season!!!

It is finally here...Swarm Season!!!  Bees have been building up their numbers and are swarming.  I received two phone calls yesterday resulting in both swarms being successfully captured.  The first was over my lunch break; I received a call from Brad Hibdon about a swarm on a bush in Effingham.  Brad and Amy were there to watch, and it was probably the fastest swarm catch with the vaccuum ever!  Dawn ran the swarm to the farm and placed it in a hive, but when we checked on it in the early evening it had moved out of the hive and back into the bee-vac box...apparently the queen was one of the stragglers in the box.  We put it back in the hive where it belonged!

Next received a call from Casey regarding a swarm trying to move into a tree.  Dawn and I got there after dark and vaccuumed the swarm from the side of the tree and from the inside of a small hollow area.  Somehow I managed to get stung on my left arm....what a surprise!?!?  I wonder if there will be any calls today?


Monday, May 6, 2013

Baby Queens on the Way!

Last Wednesday, May 1st, I attempted to graft Queens with what I thoughts was poor success; however, today I discovered my efforts had some success!  Grafting entails using a special tool to remove 1-day-old larva from a cell and transfer it into a special cell cup for the bees to finish off into a queen cell.  You have to have good light to make this work, and both my flashlight and the sun were not cooperating.  I attempted to graft about 6 cells and gave up.  I had moved the queen to a nuc box with 3 frames from her hive, placed the grafts into the original hive and hoped for the best.  Today when I checked on the hive I found one of my grafts took and is capped off, and I have multiple queen cells on 2-3 other frames!  I plan to return on Wednesday or Thursday of this week and divide the hive into mating nucs.  Sadly, the original Queen from that hive is on an apparent protest, because she has not layed a single egg since the move.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Terry's Bees Get New Home

Today I received a text from my friend Terry Hopper and decided to call to get an update on his nuc that he overwintered.  He stated that they were busting with bees, so I strongly encouraged him to get his new hive and get them transferred before they swarm due to congestion.  At 5:30pm he texted stating "Got a hive.  On my way home."  I met up with Terry and we transferred them into their new home.  They look strong and healthy; the Queen has a good laying pattern.  Terry sure looked like a proud beekeeper!!!

Grumpy is Gone :-(

It's been a few weeks since my last post.  Spring "appears" to be here and the bees are very active gathering nectar and pollen.  Eleanor, a bee inspector with the Dept of Agriculture, came out and gave the apiary a clean bill of health, but noted that two hives were without evidence of queens.  I checked back a couple of days later and placed a frame with young larva in one hive, but when I came to the other there was only a small number of bees remaining.  This was a very sad time for me because that hive was "Old Grumpy", one of my two original hives.  When I started beekeeping in 2010 I started with two hives, known as the West Hive and the East Hive.  The West Hive had much more of an attitude than the other and as my number of hives grew and fondly referred to her as "Old Grumpy".  Old Grumpy had an important role in the development of my apiary.  The Queen was a great layer, and I routinely pulled frames of bees out of her to help start or build-up other hives.  I also used her for bees when I created my starter hive for queen rearing a couple of years ago.  So, goodbye old friend (whom I cussed more than once for the stings she gave me).  I divided her two deep boxes and added them to two other hives. 

I was up at the farm yesterday, and I can't believe the large quantities of drone cells!!!  It's incredible how much crazy comb is between the boxes or going wild on fresh foundation.  They must be up to something!!!  I also set up a top-bar style swarm catcher with pheromone in it.  We'll see what happens.