Thursday, March 29, 2012

Swarms and hurt feelings

Yesterday I received 4 swarm calls in 2 hours! The first one was in downtown Stone Mountain.  When I was en-route to the swarm the St. Mt. police called to tell me that the swarm had moved apparently found a better home and left.

While I was on my way to St. Mt. Daniel called from Oakhurst Garden to say that those bees swarmed as well and would could I come get them.  I turned around after the call about the St. Mt. bees leaving and headed to the garden.  It was a nice sized swarm that was about 25' in a tree.  After several attempts, with the John Jones famous bucket, I got the queen and the workers were fanning Nasonov pheromone to say 'hey everybody, the queens in here'.  I left them at the garden to let everybody get in, since I needed to go meet my son's bus.

Leaving the garden, I checked my email and had a email from another beekeeper about some bees in John's Creek.  That is quite a trip for me, so I passed them on to a friend in that area and it turned out to be a cut out.  So she called another beekeeper with lots, and lots of experience is going to do that one.  Whew!

After getting Max off the bus I got another call about a swarm in Grant Park.  I packed up more gear.  Stopped at ace to buy a new pole.  The pole I was using was collapsing on me. Daniel put a screw in the one at the Garden, so I could use it.  I hate technical difficulties. The bees were about 17' up a tree and easy to retrieve.

I stop back at the Garden to pick up that swarm.  Drive to my house to put the Oakhusrt swarm in a 10 frame with the three frames of drawn out comb I used during the removal and 7 frames of new wax foundation.

Then I drive to my friends to install that swarm, since I'm out of space in my yard.  All seems well.

This morning I checked the hive from OG in my yard and they are gone!  Just gone!  I think, what was not to like?  Drawn comb and new foundation, good view of the chicken coop in my yard, nice neighbors.  This is only the second time I have had a hive abscond. The first time was in a TBH that I never could get to work out.  My feeling are a little hurt.  I wonder why they didn't stay?  What could I have done different?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The decline of CSX queen

Several years ago I caught a swarm at the CSX station.  This hive has been a great hive, productive and calm.  Going into winter they looked fine, but coming out of winter I thought that perhaps I lost them.  When I checked a couple of weeks ago, the number of bees was very low, but I did find a small number of eggs and larva.  I reduced them to one deep and hoped for the best.  Yesterday, when I took a look I saw no eggs and this supersedure queen cell.  You know it's a supersedure cell since it's in the middle of the frame, not the bottom of the frame and well, the queen has failed.  I don't think the workers caught it in time.  The queen cell doesn't look big enough. The must catch an egg no more then 3 days old to make a queen, I think this may have been older then that.  To try and save the hive I pulled two frames of eggs and larva to give them another go at making a better queen.  Not sure if the bees might be to old to produce enough royal jelly to do it, but we will see.

Friday, March 23, 2012

CNN filming at Oakhurst Community Gardens

I was honored to have Wes Light and Natalie Snedden from CNN come and film my beekeeping 101 class.  To me, it was really interesting to see how the process works.  I must say they did a great job filming and editing, since I was extremely nervous and was having a hard time finding my teaching zone.
CNN at Oakhurst Community Gardens

Monday, March 19, 2012

Swarm in action

Today, as I was frantically getting equipment ready for Farmer D's, I heard the hum of a swarm.  I looked up and yes, sure enough, they were off and going.  I follow for a few mins, but really I was already running late for a day packed with important appointments.  I have already add one or two boxes to every hive and rotated the brood boxes, but once it's in their intent to swarm it's to late to stop it..

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I learned something new about swarming today.

Meridith Ford Goldman contacted me today about a swarm of bees from her hive at her parents house.  When I arrived Meridith told me that her mom said they had started the behavior of landing in the wisteria tree and then making a clump on the ground about 25' away on Tuesday.

The couple of pounds of bees on the ground were a first swarm and the smaller swarm on the tree looked to be a secondary swarm.  But why was there bees on the ground and why would the swarm in the tree start to join the bees on the ground during the day?

After doing some reading on this while eating lunch, I learned that sometimes the queen is too fat with eggs to fly far.  So even though the workers wanted to land on a tree, her highness just was not able to do it.  I know that this was the first swarm since she's a mated queen.  I did get her I believe and hopefully the rest of them will march into the 10 frame deep with drawn comb we put out for them.

The bees in the wisteria seemed to be less organize and had a bit of a temperament.  The virgin queen was doing a really good job of hiding in the vines of the wisteria and even after cutting and brushing I know that I didn't get her.

So I believe that swarm in the wisteria was drawn to the mated queen on the ground, but had a virgin queen in the tree and just didn't really know what to do.  Hopefully the bees in the wisteria will join the other swarm.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

New queen cells

It's that time of year where the strong hives make a new queen and the old queen leaves the hive with about 1/2 the work force to find a new home.  Swarming is natural and a good sign that you came out of winter strong.  So why try to keep them from swarming?  Losing half your work force right at nectar flow is unfortunate.  Not the end of the world, but a bummer none the less.
That cup is built in that position and in a 1/2 peanut shape in-case the colony decides to make a queen.  The cell was empty.

Several queens are raised at once when swarming is impending.  If you scrape all the queen cells off thinking you are going to stop the swarm, if the old queen has already flown off,  you could have no queens at all now.

If you look carefully in the cell you can see her future highness floating in royal jelly and being attended by the nurse bees.  The cell will be capped in about 3 more days and she will emerge about 8 days later.   

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Swarm kit list

Three swarms yesterday and more to come this  week with the warm weather.  Are you ready?
Swarm Catching:
  • Have your regular gear (veil, gloves,  smoker, hive tool ect)
  • White sheet, to catch a clump on ground
  • Box to put them in
  • Nuc box, if you have piece of dark comb to add that helps.
  • Cardboard box with close-able flap on side.
  • Swarm bucket with extension pole.
  • tape for cardboard box.
  • hedge clippers.
  • ratchet strap to keep nuc together
  • hardware cloth, foam or dish town to close entrance
  • stapler if hardware cloth
  • ladder
  • camera
  • red light flashlight, bees can’t see red.

  • Questions
    • Address, special directions?
    • Where is the swarm?
    • How high is it?
    • How big is it?
    • How long has it been there?
    • Has the swarm been spayed with anything?

  • Tell the customer how long till you will be there and reassure them that bees when swarming are very docile and that you will relocate them.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Frazer Center

The Frazer Center is going to have two new hives this year.  One from complete scratch and another one from a die out last year.  Amy is also going to have two hive at her house and two hive at Twin Lakes Camp.  So 5 complete new hives, frames and foundation to prepare for the upcoming April 2 pick-up date.

You can do it Amy!

Friday, March 2, 2012

First swarm of the season

Anne-Marie, AKA, the Celtic Gardener called yesterday after witnessing a swarm from one of her hives.  It was a two person job for sure.  They had swarmed across her yard to a very ivy covered hill and up a tree about 8'.
The bees weren't the docile bees that a swarm usually is.  I think it's because they were only in the tree about an hour before removal.  No time to let the homeless state of their situation to sink in.

When Anne-Marie swept them into the bucket, I have never smelled such a strong banana odor in my life!  The first attempt I don't think got the queen, but completely filled the bucket!  After looking for the fanning sign of having the queen we once again endured the very agitated bees to try to get the queen.  We got her the second time.

Thank you to Anne-Marie for letting me help her on her first swarm.  She was a trooper!