They (the Honey Bees) are going strong. The hive is densely populated. It’s still summer and they have time to accumulate more pollen and nectar, regurgitate them over and over until a substance called Honey is produced.
On Wednesday, we felt it was a good time to harvest some honey and out of over 20 bars in our top-bar hive, 3 bars of honey-filled combs were all we would be taking. They deserve to keep the rest for themselves.
Apart from just harvesting honey, an inspection was needed to ensure that there wasn’t an invasion of beetles or mites.
We were little worried last week about our busy clumping bees. It wasn’t the usual buzzing around when some housekeeping, or should I say hivekeeping, is in operation. They were just in a cluster which, since it’s Spring, made us wonder if they were prepared to swarm.
Preparing to Swarm???
DH decided to do a quick check ~ to see if it was their space or their population growth that might have contributed to this clump being formed.
Checking the top bar hive.
It was actually quite “full” of comb (both honey and brood) so he added a few new bars and removed some boards, giving them more room to make new comb.
Quick inspection & remedial action done.
Notice in the top photo that an entrance has a stopper. When the hive was young & new combs were being built, space and doorway guidance were helpful, so 2 openings were sufficient, but now …
Sky was clear and air was still. Lots of bees were out foraging for nectar and pollen and we decided that conditions were ideal to do a special check on our “new” hive, which began with a swarm that visited our Swarm Box in early April and were moved to their new home-hive in mid-April. Our main concern today was mites, which if found, we wanted to get rid of at an early stage.
So, the roof of the Top-Bar Hive got removed & the combs were inspected bar-by-bar.
Looked healthy, mite free.
Walls, base, combs looked “clean”.
Apart from mites, we were also trying to spot the Queen …
Lots of nanny workbees, some drones, capped cells ~ but couldn’t spot the Queen.
8 combs build in about 12 weeks.
They were healthy and happy (except during our short intrusion)
We now have peace of mind for these “newcomers”.
It is our hope that one day we will be granted audience with their Queen.
It’s been 6 days since we spotted Swarm No. 2 but how long had it been there before we noticed it is anyone’s guess. Day after day I’ve been watching it closely hoping that the “scouts” would persuade the Queen-bee to move to the Swarm Box a.k.a. Hivingham Palace.
Alas (or should I be filled with glee?), I think they’ve made their decision to live in a Treehive about 25 feet above ground level.
… still up on the tree today.
How did I come to that conclusion? Well, the wind & rain calmed down today and while the workers were out gathering food, I actually saw a comb.
a tree comb!
Is their comb safe on the tree? Will it get heavy and fall off when filled with honey and larvae? I guess Mother Nature will show me how she works on things.
Now, there are 2 Swarms of Bees in our front yard!!
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find…” ~ Matthew 7:7
Our Swarm Box saga, parts 1 & 2 is finally coming to its finale.
Swarm Box on Top-Bar Hive
It has sat on our Top Bar Hive for 2 days and after much advice seeking and deliberation, we felt today would be just right to put the bees (that came to our front yard) where they will bee comfortable (pardon the pun).
Time for their big move …
Roof came off the Swarm Box
1 of 5 large combs built in a week!
No frames! They did their own thing.
The Box and Hive were of the same dimensions so each bar would sit comfortably from Box to Hive, in the same sequence. When 14 bars with their combs were transferred to the Hive, the poor bees were in a bit of a frenzy but fortunately not furious and only for about 15 minutes. So we sprayed some water to persuade them to calm down and head ‘indoors’.
We tried spotting the Queen but did not want to stretch the move unnecessarily long. Finally we left them be, allowing some to find their own way to the entrance of their new abode.
90% of the population in the new Hive
3 hours later
They seem to have adjusted well. It’s drizzling right now so I hope they are comfortably tucked up in their new home with rooms and furniture which they built and are accustomed to.
As I drove on to our driveway this afternoon, hubby came walking out, fast, and said “You won’t believe what’s happened!”. My first thought was “Uh-oh! Did someone die?”
Fortunately, no, it was good news. Well at that point in time it was good news. A new swarm of Honey Bees is in our front yard, about 30ft away from our beezy Swamp Box, up on a tree. Out came the cellphone from the handbag, just in case they disappeared if I was to run in to grab a camera. Wow!
OK, at the time of this post, 7.45pm, the swarm is still there ~ not as active but still there. Will they stay? Is there a way to persuade them to stick around? We already have a hive in the backyard and are now trying to establish one in the front yard. Can we use that green Swarm Box we have to attract them after we move the present occupants to the Topbar Hive which we have set up?
There is something in the front yard attracting bees … could it be the lemongrass hedge?
We have slowly lowered our Swarm Box thrice now, each time about a foot or so.
Believe it or not, we surfed the internet and took advice from experienced beekeepers and did our hive-moving at night, using a flashlight, when the bees were “indoors”. Making it as gradual as possible and as permitted by the curvature and rough surface of the tree trunk, we have now gotten it to manageable height. Our “spare” Topbar Hive has been cleaned and put in place with a garden fork inserted nearby to act as a kind of landmark. I took this short video with my cellphone which (I think) shows the bees are still busy & don’t mind the change of height of their ‘temporary’ residence.
The white band on the tree trunk was about 14″ below the Box’s originally position. We had brushed some diatomaceous earth there to end/break the route of a colony of ants plying up and down the tree.
So now, we wait further before sitting the Box on the Hive …
(Adopt the Pace of Nature; Her Secret is Patience. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.)
I am not a professional beekeeper, plus my husband and I did not decide on Beekeeping as a hobby, the Bees decided they liked our backyard and made it their hiveland. However, when I read this article in the Huffington Post today, I found it very disturbing.
I immediately went to check if our amateurish DIY Topbar Hive was still inhabited.