Went in to check hives again today and opened up the first hive... Here is the results; plenty of bees, very obvious signs of a queen and 20 frames that look just like the one in the picture. If they weren't fully capped like the one in the picture, they were certainly close. We are discussing entering a frame or two into the fair. If we win then we can say that we have award winning honey.
So about the monster swarm... Well i am happy to report that they are doing great! I checked on them today and what a wonderful site to see what the girls do when you mess up and forget to put 3 frames into their respective slots in the hive. Well these good little girls went an pulled down three beautiful combs from the inner cover. It was amazing, beautiful straight, stark white comb. Good girls! I never would have imagined them using the inner cover as a top bar. How funnny, and no, I dont expect to get that lucky ever again. they could have just as easily put in some nice cross comb for me. I was able to carefully cut it off the inner cover and then gently put it into some deep frames that I had on hand. Wired it in and I think that all is now good. they should re attach it to the true top bar and no one will ever know. As sheer luck would have it, as I was getting ready to cut the last piece of comb, I thought to myself... I might want to get the bees off just in case this one has the queen. It had the most bees on it and I thought it sure would be difficult to spot her with the light fading and I really didn't want to kill her. Plus I hadn't sen her on any of the other frames I examined or the two frames that I had already cut off. Well as I picked up the top cover to get ready to brush the bees off guess what... I just happened to glance right at her. Wow, total fluke, but there she was. So I snapped a couple of pictures of her. If you look you can see she is just left of center in the picture at right. So no question now she didn't get killed with the fire extinguisher.
What a beautiful swarm.
Have I mentioned before that it is swarm season? Maybe I have also mentioned that they dont usually stick around long...
Well, just incase we needed a subtle reminder of either one, today gave us just that. Well being the day after Mothers Day and being the favorite son (Ok, so I am the only son, but shhh, dont tell my mom), I thought that I should take my mom to lunch. Now, before you go acusing me of being a day late, you need to understand that she was out of town yesterday. So anyway, we are having lunch when I get this swarm call. Sounds like the perfect storm, er, swarm. It's about the size of a basketball and about five feet off the gound on a young maple tree. So I am very excited. I call Jeff and let him know that we have a live one... He gathered up his equipment and headed that way. Unfortunately, when he called to double check on the way they were already gone. You can see from the pictures that this swarm was just beautiful and looked to be very easy to catch. Oh well, better luck next time.
This might be a good time to remind everyone what areas we cover for swarm removal.
Ozarks Honey Company covers these Missouri towns
and the nearby areas for bee swarm removal:
Battlefield - Billings - Boaz - Bois D’Arc - Brookline - Chadwick - Clever - Diggins
Fordland - Forsyth - Fremont Hills
Galena - Highlandville - Linden - Marshfield - McCracken
Nixa - Northview
Oak Grove Heights - Oldfield - Ozark
Republic - Rogersville
Saddlebrooke - Seymour - Sparta - Strafford - Willard
as well as the following Missouri Counties: Greene, Christian, Webster
Dont forget the swarm removal hotline - 417-501-5009
Small cluster on the left, just above the large cluster on the right.
Here is a large swarm that I got a removal call on just north of Springfield, Missouri in Greene County . When I got there this morning the swarm had actually split into two clusters with bees on two adjacent branches, one slightly above the other. In the pictures above the smaller cluster was just above the 2nd picture which is of the larger cluster. They were neatly tucked into a lilac shrub.
These pictures do not do this swarm justice as (although you can't see it in the picutre) the second larger cluster is about 8 inches in diameter and about 2 feet long. The smaller cluster is about 6 inches in diameter and 1 foot long. The size alone is what interested me in catching this particular swarm, since it was a bit far from my home. Based on the call I knew this swarm was not a samll one, so I prepared a hive body and a super to be able to hold the large quantity of bees.
Upon examining the swarm, I could immediatly tell these bees were not acting in the normal doscile manner of most swarms. They were very touchy and became even more so as I proceded to remove them from the shrub. Aparently the homeowner, before calling me, had sprayed them with a fire extinguisher trying to get them to leave the location. I am thinking that may be what led them to be so aggravated. This is the first swarm that I actually put my bee suit on to get into a box. See me in the picture below.
These girls were crazy mad at me. Notice them all flying arround. Not your typical swarm.
In the picture you can see all the bees on top of the hive surrounding the small twig that I just placed on top. At this point the hive box already had a large amount of the bees inside, and there were still twice as many on the shrub. Most interesting was that although they seemed to like the hive body and moved in there were not large amounts of bees fanning their Nasonov glands as most swarms do. The majority simply climbed inside and checked out the boxes. The rest, well they kept trying to tell me that they didn't want to be bothered and you can see them in the pisture above flying arround, not happy with my presence.
After about 3 hours of cutting, removing, more cutting and removing I finally got the most of the mass into their new home. I covered the hive and let it sit next to the bush so that all the straglers could come and join thir sisters. I then came back later in the evening to collect the boxes and the colony.
You can see the bees still on the branch next to the hive and the mass that has made the boxes their new home.
Well, the bees were a big hit at Classical Conversations (Liv's home school). She got up and sang the whole 1st verse and chorus to "I'm In Better Hand's Now". It was just amazing! I am so proud of her, she said, "well, I was a bit nervous dad, but I just sang anyway." How awesome, spoken like a truly beyond her yeas 5yr old. Tracy finished up the song, while Liv did her own "interpretive" dance to the music, then joined back in on the final chorus. It was great.
Then we talked about the family bees. It sure is fun telling everyone that we have over 1/2 a million bees. The questions are always so fun to answer. It always impresses me how much people know about bees, but I must admit, the parents at CC were especially "in the know." If any of you are reading this, you certainly do your homework when it comes to all natural ingredients, like honey. Although it wasn't the reason that we took the bees, I think that we have several new customers from the presentation. Livy sure enjoyed showing "her" bees off to her friends, and they loved checking them out just a much. It was a very fun time. Lots of compliments and questions.
Stopped by the Home Depot on the way to the house and they had 6~8' Japanese Maples on sale for $80. So, of course we had to go and get one. But first I had to get all those girls back into the hive. It was so nice, Tracy cme to help me. I really liked that! She has been showing more interest in the bees and wanting to learn about taking care of them. So, I was really excited when she asked if she could go over to the hives with me while I put the frame from the observation hive back in. I am going to have to get her suited up soon, so she can look down in a hive while I do an observation.
Where is the queen? Well, after looking for her yesterday in the parent hive of the split and not finding her. I can only assume that she either left with a swarm, or is in the nuc that I made from the hive. As it was getting late in the day and we needed to go if we wanted to purchase that tree. I quickly put the frame back into the hive and will have to check on the split tomorrow.
Happy Easter! Swarm season is here! We besides the two calls for swarm removal that we have gotten. I checked into one of the double deep hives that came from Dave and found 8 Queen cells. One was ready to hatch and we soon should have a virgin queen in that hive within the next 24~48 hours. I checked the hive very closely for the existing queen and could not locate her. So, I am hoping that I got her with the split that I made of this hive last week and these are all new queens due to the hive being queenless.
It amazes me to look inside a hive and then check back a week later to see how much the landscape has changed. The phrase "busy as a bee" certainly is a true one. I found comb almost completely drawn on foundation that was put in only a week ago. Also, please don'e ever tell me that plastic foundation is better than wax! I put 2 wax foundation frames in and left 2 plastic. Here was the configuration: 1W, 2P, 3C, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7C, 8W, 9P. Where W=wax foundation, P=plastic foundation, C=comb, B=brood. Both the wax foundation frames had comb drawn on them this week (just 1 week later). The plastic were still bare. So, I as if I wasn't already... I am truly a firm believer in wax foundation. I have either culled or planned to cull all plastic foundation from the new hives (sorry Dave).
Another thing that i have become a big fan of is running 9 frames in all boxes. The bees just seem to like this configuration better. Of course you do have to watch it when they don't have drawn comb as they will pull the comb out a bit too far on one side if you have it next to a frame of foundation. I have found this only to be a minor nuisance. Flipping the frames 180, or dropping a frame of comb in next to them seems to do the trick when they do get a bit wild.
OK, so the main reason for the inspection... I was pulling a frame of bees for my daughter's school presentation. Tomorrow, is our family's turn to present at my youngest daughter's home school Co Op. It should be lots of fun and I am so looking forward to hearing her and my wife sing. Basically, every family gets one day out of the school year to tell about themselves and present what they like to do as hobbies, work, etc... So, we will talk about our love of music and then the girls will sing. Then I will show off the bees.
Went out to the bee yard yesterday to check bees. Well... sort of. See I started to go out and check the bees, then realized that I better make up some frames first. Had some trouble with equipment, then got some frames built. 50 to be exact! My wife came out and offered to help. What a blessing!!! See she is a very hard worker and really likes to complete a task. Now, I was only going to build a few frames, but with her helping, we whipped out all 50 frames in record time. My daughter even got in on the act and helped mom glue and then later sorted them into hive bodies for later use. After my equipment malfunction, it would have been very late before I would have gotten them put together, so many thanks to my great wife and wonderful daughter. I could have not done it without you!
Well after the equipment fiasco and then getting the frames put together, I finally made it out to the bees. I thought I would just do a quick cursory check on a few of the hives. The first hive I checked was one that we split about 2 weeks ago. I am happy to say that it looks like they successfully raised some new queens, the new queens emerged and the girls seemed quite content. Still lots of capped brood ready to emerge any day. The top deep was almost completely full of honey in the brood area. This is a very common happening when a hive is queenless. So, at my mentor, Jeff Maddox's suggestion I dropped 2 honey supers on top. Jeff said as soon as the mated queen returns the bees will sense that she is ready to get busy laying and they will want to clear that brood chamber for her, so, put the two supers on top and... instant honey crop! Hope this works, as it will provide a wonderful start to our 2012 honey harvest. That means all our customers can hopefully reap the benefit of some early season honey.
OK, so now for the, "oh no!" While the first hive I looked at seemed so great, the second hive I got into was in quite the opposite situation. See this hive is one that I purchased from a friend (mentioned in an earlier journal). Not that in it's self is bad, but the situation is that I haven't checked them yet to see how they were doing, and this hive was ready to swarm. There were already some queen cells built and almost complete. I got worried... Not just for this hive, but for the 5 others that we all new purchased and also unknowns. It was getting lat in the day and I decided that the others would have to wait till in the morning. I quickly split this hive into two and hopefully have averted the swarm issue. We definitely don't want what happened to another hive (pictured above) to happen to this one.