Swarms In August

I checked in on the bees again today, this time equipped with some half full feeders (I had a lot less sugar than I expected). I was dismayed to find that White Hive has virtually no honey stores. One solid frame and a couple of super frames was all they had for honey, and there was even less pollen. I pulled 3 of the empty super frames out and put in the feeder I had. It’s just a mason jar with some holes poked in the top. There’s a base that goes with it, so the bees can easily get underneath the lid and access all the holes, but I just propped the jar up on a small rock so I wouldn’t have to remove more frames. They had about 5 frames of solid capped brood.

Green Hive was even worse off. Two deep boxes with bees and only 2 frames of honey. I was horrified to find that the colony had swarmed sometime since I last checked on them. There were about 15 swarm cells that had been used. AND they were in the process of raising more queens! I saw 3 cells with eggs in them. The queen was still in the hive and there were three frames of eggs/larvae. No sign of any capped brood. I rearranged some frames so that as much pollen/ nectar was in one box, and then shook all the bees out of the box filled with empty frames. I’m very tempted to combine the colonies. Green Hive has more adult bees, but White Hive has more food.

I’m really disappointed with how things turned out. I don’t expect that either of them will make it through the winter. Unless I added a gallon of sugar water to each hive every day, I don’t see how they will manage the winter. And this year was such a pleasant year too! There was rain consistently throughout the summer so flowers were regularly replenished.

If I get home early enough on Saturday I will try combining them then. I have a construction project happening on Monday and it will be right next to the bees so I don’t want to work with them on Sunday or Monday and risk getting the construction guys into trouble.

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3 responses to “Swarms In August”

  1. Emily Scott says :

    What a shame. You say the queen was still in Green hive, so presumably they can’t have swarmed with her? Perhaps you inspected just before the swarm was going to leave.

    • willowbatel says :

      There were dozens of swarm cells and they all had been opened from the inside. And the lack of capped brood and severe reduction in brood space makes it seem like they had been without a laying queen for a couple of weeks. White Hive has about 7 solid frames of capped brood, where as Green Hive only has 2-3 frames of brood and it’s all eggs/larvae under a week old.

      • Emily Scott says :

        The bees will feed the queen less a couple of weeks before swarming so that she is light enough to fly. This means she lays fewer or no eggs – could explain the lack of a laying queen. Alternatively perhaps they went queenless and the queen you saw was a new replacement queen.

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