Tag Archives: swarm

More Bee Expansion….aka I am a Bee Hoarder. Big Update.

19 Jun

So, let’s see….

After the disaster of a crop & chop, which never really shaped up to be anything but a mess, I hived Betty up the hill into a foundationless Langrstroth next to Foster hive.  I had this whole plan about how I was going to put the styronuc into this rubbermaid container I keep all my bee junk in, but it didn’t fit.

So plan B…which I had to formulate on the fly…involved closing said rubbermaid container, rolling my window all the way down, and balancing the nuc on top of the container with the door out the window….and driving really really really slowly with a smoker lit and my veil on. Luckily, I was just driving it from one end of a farm to another, so really less than a quarter of a mile and no real roads.

20130619-190034.jpgOk, there’s sort of a picture….the corner of a white thing in the mirror is the nuc sticking out my window…and then you can obviously see the smoke.

20130619-190051.jpgAnd here’s Foster hive on the left, I really need to combine that down into one box…although I’m tempted to let them sort themselves out.  Then there’s Betty all tucked into her single brood box, and the lavender styronuc waiting to be cleared out totally.  It’s empty now and stored away.

Cleo, at the other end of Scratch Yard is doing great – she’s on 13 or 14 bars and building like a little champ.  I couldn’t seem to get a good shot in the window last week, but I’m headed out tomorrow to check on them and do some other work….

I checked on Miss JuJuBee last week it seems like they’re starting to move down into the second box.  I have fingers crossed hard on that one.  Last year my girls in that hive swarmed rather than move down.  I have seed comb in the second box *and* I put a swarm trap out in the woods a bit just in case.  Here are two pictures of her girls:

20130619-191155.jpgPollen pants!  I love it when their pollen baskets are full and they have puffy pollen pants!

20130619-191204.jpgHere’s looking at you, kid.

Then!!! I got a community garden space (I alluded to that previously).  I’ve been doing a lot of work unearthing it from weed city.  It’s coming along.  They told me I could have a hive there, which I was really excited about and then the other community garden that I was on a waiting list for said I could keep a hive there too!  Two hives!  So I brought the long hive (Daphne) to the garden I am gardening in:

20130619-191441.jpgThis is Daphne in my little plot…in the distance….failing at blending in.

I think we’re up to last Wednesday now.  So I needed two nucs, found them!  Went and got them! Brought them back!  Got a hive for one of them, another foundationless Lang – I’m calling her Eleanor.  Hived her up right quickly on…I think it was Monday.

Today I went into the garden with the intention of doing an actually assisted Chop and Crop…better prepared and on a nuc that was all wood instead of all plastic…look, I’m learning.  Here’s my helpful friend in my spare bee suit:


I pulled the nuc away from where it was, got the HTBnuc that I made (featured in my last post in all its adorableness), and went to work.  I figured, I’d chop and crop into the HTBnuc a few yards from the site of where the other hive is and nuc was so that there would be fewer bees around and that I could just drop the bars into the long hive when I was done with the traumatic operation.

I was wrong, as usual.

First, I’d accidentally switched nucs so there was a plastic frame in there, lame.  I figured I could just put that into Eleanor (the already hived Lang) no problem.

I was wrong about that too.

First things first, I shook the bees off of the first frame and into my nuc, helpful friend cut the bottom, the comb came loose, and then I noticed a little queen cell on it that was opened….so I put the brakes on.

I lay that frame out to be robbed as it was mostly nectar and set about shaking the loose bees off of every frame and into the nuc, figuring I’d shake a swarm into the nuc, check out the rest of the frames, and see what was going on.

When I really got in there and looked there were 6<<<<<<< SIX<<<<<<< queen cells in varying sizes on a variety of the frames.  Three of them were open.  Three of them were still sealed.

So I closed the nuc back up (after shaking almost all the loose bees out of it) and put it back where a mini swarm of returning field bees was congregating on the side of my raised bed.

And then I watched, thunk, and had a little snack.

A lot of the bees from the shaking process ended up outside of the new nuc.


But within an hour they were all into the little nuc and fanning and foraging and quiet.  From that, I’d say there’s a queen in there.

I ran over to my new favorite spot, Cluck!, to get a new hive figuring that I’d just move all the frames with the other half of the bees into a new foundationless langstroth and call it good…but then as I thought about it more, I realized that I didn’t want to waste all of the queen cells and sooooooo….

I hived up almost all of the frames into the new foundationless Lang…who needs a G name…Genevieve and faced it away from where the nuc was facing and I left a different frame with a queen cel in the nuc (alone) and faced it to the side of where the nuc had been facing and stacked it up on top of the two Lang hives that are there figuring that they’d split themselves all up amicably (I hope) and I can take that frame and the bees in it tomorrow morning and take them down to the farm where Alice is empty – chop and crop that one frame, add the bees that are in the box, go get a couple of bars from Cleo and bring them down and call THAT a split….which leaves:

Alice (HTBH at Zephyr, currently empty) with a queen cell, some bees, and a few borrowed bars from Cleo.  Work to do tomorrow.

Betty, last seen about 10 days ago tucked into her foundationless Lang up on Scratch.  Next check tomorrow.

Cleo, last seen about 10 days ago being blue ribbon and wonderful in her HTBH up on Scratch.  Next check tomorrow.

Daphne empty in Sycamore Yard…but once I get back in two weeks I’ll move her to the other community garden (Brattle), bring the baby nuc over and transfer the bars into it….so next update in two weeks.

Eleanor – foundationless Lang full of happy bees being normal in Sycamore Yard.  Next check in two weeks.

Foster hive – status unknown…but couldn’t be worse than when I found her…next check tomorrow…up on Scratch.

Genevieve – newly hived foundationless Lang in Sycamore Yard, next check in two weeks, although she’s short a frame and I should probably put that in tomorrow…although they were QUITE irritable when I left today.

JuJuBee – Being a darling in Lincoln Yard, I think…next check tomorrow.

Jean Grey – Awaiting a swarm in Lincoln Yard.

And that’s that….sort of a fail…and I got chased from the yard…ha…but also sort of exciting!


Post Mortem

9 Sep


I took the top half box (aka the mistake box) off the hive today and scraped all the comb out of it. It’s sad and empty, but so beautiful. I love the way the natural comb just goes where it will, but there’s no wasted space. I’m going to save a few big chunks for future need and melt down the rest.

It looks like, and someone correct me if I’m wrong, there is at least one queen cup in there.


So maybe they swarmed and then the new queen failed?

There are still a few bees wandering around the hive…like 30 or so workers and about 5 drones…I don’t know if they’re mine or not. I figured I’d leave the other full box on for just a few more days so it’s totally robbed out and then wrap it up and stick it in the freezer until next year.

It’s a sad state of affairs, but I feel like I’ve made peace with it and am ready to start with two hives next year, so that I can more readily diagnose issues and take care of them sooner and not have this happen again.


Finally – visible action in the warre window.

5 May

There were a few weeks where I couldn’t go out and check on the girls – I was traveling, the weather was bad, that sort of thing – but last weekend I was able to finally see them!  They’re working on building out the box they’re supposed to be building out, phew.

They’re busily building building.  I haven’t seen the queen yet, although with this type of hive – obviously, you’re not doing frame inspection, so seeing her walking around would be pure luck and pretty darn unlikely.  I can’t wait until the comb is up against the windows and I can see what’s going into the cells.

The times I’ve peeked in since I took that picture, the comb has been so much more covered with bees, so that I can’t really see it.  Although the feeder was totally empty and dry that day, which means that more bees were out looking for food.  The times I’ve checked with the feeder fuller, the comb has been more covered.  I sort of can’t believe that they’re still sucking down the sugar syrup – but I’ve been told that building comb takes lots of energy – so maybe they will still for a while.



Maybe next time I go out there, I’ll video what’s going on.  I’ll be able to see again Monday.

Oh, also – got my first swarm call on Thursday.  I was super sad not to be able to go to it, I had a shoot in Nashua.  Apparently it was an afterswarm from the home owners’ hive – they’d rehived the first swarm but didn’t have the equipment to deal with this one.

Oh – I forgot – I saw a bee on the outside of my hive the other day that was a different color than I’m used to seeing – blacker all over.  I wonder if the bees being born from this queen are going to be a different color pattern or if it was another neighborhood bee stopping by to say – hi.  I can’t imagine they’d have let her sit there if she didn’t belong, though.

Hilariously, one of my neighbors (she lives downstairs and right after install, all of the dead/dying bees who didn’t transition well were turning up on her covered patio) said she saw my bees down at the corner store going through the trash.  She recognized them because they’re a different color than the feral bees that live down the street.  Girls, I’m feeding you good stuff!  Don’t go picking through the trash!

Rhode Island Swarm Removal – Bee Swarm – Bee Catching!

11 Apr

I’m really hopeful that swarming season starts soon!  One of my favorite threads on beesource’s forum is the “post your swarm dates” thread.  It’s a compendium of swarm dates, locations, and management styles.  It’s a fun read for so many reasons, but I love watching the Northern creep!  I’ve seen some posts from Indiana, Ohio, and Virginia – and a few that noted agricultural zone 6b (which is often how Providence is classed).  I think it’s only a matter of a week or so before we start seeing calls up here.  I’d love to catch some bees this spring!  I have a hive ready and waiting.  Heeeeeeere little honey-bee!  buzz buzz!  (If you want me to come get bees from you – email honeyintherox@gmail.com)

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