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 …
Sometimes the “Just-In-Case” notion pays …
We cleared and stored all our outdoor furniture in the garage, took down hanging plants, sheltered potted plants in the oak-well, did all that was necessary on our hurricane checklist before heading for the airport to enjoy our vacation in Singapore and Australia, Just-In-Case. Well, while in sunny Sydney where it was the start of Spring, we sat & watched US news channels of Hurricane Matthew blowing through Florida.
Not much we could do ~ just enjoy the vacation and accept whatever mess Matthew decides to leave behind, right? Upon our return, we didn’t give it much thought during the 1st 2 days of clearing and performing CPR (Crucial Plant Resuscitation) but then we suddenly remembered: we had decided to hang up our Swarm Box a day before leaving, Just-In-Case some Queen and her entourage needed shelter.
The “Just-In-Case” Swarm Box
On Day 3, we checked … and … Yo! Her Majesty did take refuge, perhaps to hide from Matthew(?) and decided to stay on.
Action in the Swarm Box!!
We’ve decided to leave them alone, let them make themselves at home but to bring out a spare Top Bar Hive and place it close to the Box, to let them get used to the scenery.
Top Bar Hive in position.
Our neighbor’s hurricane shutters are still up but we are hoping 2016 hurricane season has ended, even though it’s only the 1st week of November. Did this swarm come from our other hives? Or our neighbor’s hive? Did Hurricane Matthew contribute to their settling in this Swarm Box? Whatever the circumstance, we’re glad we had hung up this contraption and even laced it with Lemongrass oil … Just-In-Case.
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.
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.
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.)
Update on our May 1/15 Bee Moving (from Compost Drum to a DIY Top Bar Hive.
The royal entrance to the Queen’s Abode ~ no confusion, no disarray … they know their in’s and out’s. Definitely a better move compared to our first one.
Today, the weather permitted us, the Accidental Beekeepers, to move our bees comfortably and hopefully for them (bees) too, our treasured self-invited Honey Bees. For a month, we were ready but had to hold back because of weather conditions, visitors, county mosquito spraying, etc… etc…
But today, we did it! Unlike the 1st time moving, when things were quite disorganized, today we were more prepared and everything went smoothly. The job took only 2½ hours and we even handled some curved combs with no panic. 😀
From my Compost Drum to the new DIY Top Bar Hive.
Drum’s screws were undone earlier; now to do the last 2 holding all together.
There they were, even building new combs.
Drum’s top half was removed; now the combs’ move begins …