Honey, There Was A Swarm
Since it’s been 6 days since I opened the bees last, I opened them today. My mom bought some burlap sacks at McClendon’s, so I burned a little bit of one in the smoker. The bees were much calmer with the smoke I found.
I was really excited to be opening them up again. I’m looking forward to seeing how they expand into the second box, since last year it was at the end of the season when the bees were more interested in strengthening the one box, instead of expanding into a second. I opened the top box to find one frame (one of the incompletes from last year) fully drawn out and FULL of honey. Every single cell was filled almost to the brim with honey. It had to weigh at least 15 pounds because it was heavier than my littlest dog (and she weighs 10). I had to pull pretty hard to get it out of the box though. I thought the bees had super glued it down or something, but once I got it out I saw the actual source of the problem. The bees were starting to fill in the new space in between the boxes with wax and honey. I spent probably about 20 minutes scraping the wax off from the bottoms of the upper boxes frame and the tops of the lower boxes frames. I pulled out one of the new frames from the top box so I had a place to put the honey and wax. It wasn’t until I’d squished a few of the pieces of burr comb down onto the frame that I realized the bees had drawn the whole thing out about a centimeter. It was solid white and matched the foundation perfectly. There were a few other frames that had been drawn out, but not so extensively as that.
The bottom (and MUCH more full) box had two more full frames of just honey. There wasn’t much pollen at all really. There are a bunch of drone cells being made though. I’m just leaving them alone. The bees know what the hive needs much better than I do, so I’m going to just let them do their thing. They’ve started making a new queen too, which I find weird since the current queen is laying just fine and doesn’t appear injured or anything. There are 5 or 6 frames of brood, but the stuff on the edges is getting more filled in with honey. I took three empty frames from the top box and rotated them with 3 from the bottom, in the hopes it would encourage the bees to build wax in the right places (and confuse them a little if they’re thinking they want to swarm).
Speaking of which, yesterday there was one. Apparently there are some apartments down the street a few blocks which have wild bees living in the wall, and yesterday they swarmed. I was up north for the Sultan Shindig, but F texted me to say that a big cloud of bees had just flown in between our houses. I was worried they were mine, and then I thought F was just trying to scare me by telling me the Animal Control had come by looking for them. When we finally made it home a couple hours later we found out the real story. And the animal control guy said that I wasn’t allowed to have bees in my yard because the lot size is too small. But the hive isn’t visible from the street, and it’s 50 feet from the property line (that’s major requirement) on the side that doesn’t have a 6 foot fence. My hive is positioned at the base of the hill side, which is basically just a straight stack of rocks 10 feet high. And on top of that is a 6 foot fence. The next nearest property line has 6 foot high hedges, which are interchangeable for the fence. My neighbor said that the animal control guy said that since my neighbors are fine with it he’s not going to worry about it.
The swarm landed a block or two behind us supposedly. I wasn’t home in time to see it. I still haven’t ever seen a swarm in progress, but from what I hear they’re a sight to see.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. The hive is doing wonderfully, and apparently there’s a good nectar flow right now. The honey was all pretty clear (which makes me think it might be either the blackberry patch up the street, or the several thousand square feet of clover in the grass across the street). And the wild hives in the area are clearly doing well too. The good news is that if my hive does requeen there’s a wild hive around to get some good genes from.