We humans may be isolating in our homes, but not the bees. They are out and about in Virginia, enjoying the weather, the nectar, the pollen, and generally just trying to expand the population. Yesterday (Friday) one of my hives swarmed not once, but twice.
I had just taken an afternoon walk on our street and swung by the apiary to say hello to the bees. One of my hives (Pandora) seemed unusually active earlier in the day, so I wanted to see if anything was going on. The cluster on the side of the hive shown in the picture greeted me, and I had no idea what it was. It seemed a little small for a swarm, but what else could it be? I walked around the back of the hives to get a closer look, and found the second swarm at the top of this post. Oh crap, was that another swarm? I had only ever seen swarms in trees, so I was a little confused.
This second swarm was on a top bar hive (TBH) nuc that I made about 10 days ago out of Saturn. I was checking the hive on April 8 and found swarm cells with larva inside. I managed to find the queen so I placed her and a few frames into a nuc to hopefully suppress swarming in Saturn. We’ve had some cold nights since then and I have been worried about these bees, but they seem to be doing fine.
Back to my possible swarms, I texted one fellow beekeeper and called another, and was assured this was likely a swarm. Sigh, I don’t have enough equipment for this! I also didn’t have any frames ready. I also wasn’t wearing a bee suit, so back to the house to make a plan. When I’m in doubt, I always try to step back and make a plan; it’s a good practice.
I remembered that a screen bottom board for a medium nuc was in my shed, and I had another medium nuc box; I also had a few deep nucs that my father (a woodworker) made for me a couple years ago. Next step was to find some frames.
I am fortunate to have my bees near the house, and I use our little red wagon to pull equipment out to my bee yard. With some frames, foundation, and boxes, I was ready. I stuffed it into the wagon and put on my bee suit.
Here is my deep nuc with a frame of nectar stolen from my first swarm, which is now two deeps tall and going strong. In this picture I have scraped the bees from the side of the existing nuc into the box, and am about to remove the blue political sign to dump the remaining bees in.
Here is the result: two new nucs. I created a new row where they would get full sun during the day. You can see the existing TBH nuc and my row of Langstroth hives in the background. I didn’t have a lid for my medium nuc, so a wooden board had to do. I put a piece of foam insulation over each cover, as we were due for a couple nights with near-freeing weather and it couldn’t hurt. On top went a political sign from our last election, to provide some protection from rain. These political signs sure are useful!
So that’s it. Today the weather was sunny and 55 F (13 C), and both nucs were flying. My guess is that one nuc may have the old queen, and one a virgin queen. We’ll give them a couple weeks to settle in and then see how they are doing.
Oops!… I did it again
This title song from Britney Spear’s came to mind as I was scrambling to find boxes and frames for the new swarms. Apparently this is from her second studio album of the same name. Don’t ask me why, these brilliant ideas just come to me.
Stay safe, take care of each other, and may you prosper and find honey.