Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Bad. The Good and the Swarm!!!!

So the Bad. Well as you all may know I had like six small hives die out this Winter due to lingering long term drought conditions. Mostly the girls just stopped building up last Summer and didn't have the numbers needed to keep a good Winter ball going and retain/make heat. One or two of them starved to death even though I was feeding them constantly they didn't have enough numbers to store and make the syrup into honey and we had way too long a Winter besides.

I am over the tragedy of the drought/harsh Winter and bouncing back now but what I have is about six hives worth of drawn comb on frames with even some honey and pollen still stored in them.  I have managed to use two brood boxes of drawn comb already with the new survivor hive I got back in April and the recent first swarm of the season I captured last week but that still leaves four full brood supers and three small supers of drawn comb and the ants are just dying to get their grubby pincers into them.

I hate ants.... They are VERMIN!!!!

Anyway. Since this is still Spring and I wasn't punished enough financially by the truck transmission going out the Spring Maintenance Fairy (who steals my money) decided this was a good time to put a curse on my freezer. Yep it died and I had no choice but to buy another one or watch my precious comb be invaded by ants.

The Good. Luckily I don't really need a huge freezer like I was using so by scraping out the old freezer (which weighed a ton... OK half a ton) I was able to partially offset the price of a the new one and managed to find one on sale to boot so it only set me back 100 bucks or so. Still that comes out of my prepping cash and the pot is beginning to get a bit low right about now.

More bad. Now it is once again mowing time. Scratch another two days of getting anything done but mowing grass.

The Good. Down the road a bit the small town puts on a big Memorial day show and makes sure their town graveyard is perfectly mown with NO left over grass clippings. I happened to be driving by with my nifty new freezer in the truck when I stopped and offered to let the mower guy leave his clippings at my place. SCORE!!!! I got more grass clippings from that then I can collect my normal by hand way in a month. I got a heaping truck bed, although NOT the ultracool eight foot bed like in my truck but a six footer at least, full and over flowing with grass clippings!!! That will save me a bunch of raking and wheel barrow hauling after they dry a bit.

The Bad. I got so excited over the grass clippings that I miss measured my frame boards for the new cistern cap and cut them too short and had to make another run into town. Someday I will finish a project without making more than one run for something I forgot or screwed up... I swear it!!!!

The Good. Last year I attempted to make a small nuc box that would hold only a few frames for queen breeding and making new splits. Well I can't really use it this year as I don't dare weaken my recovering hives so on a whim I placed one on an old tree stump at out in town property. Believe it or not a swarm moved into this box sometime within the last week. I didn't check it on Monday like I did the others and sure enough it has bees. I have no clue how much comb they have built in there yet but at least I have more bees!!!

This is the fifth confirmed swarm from the city I have heard about this year so far, and the only one I have captured. As I suspected the in town bees must have had a much easier time of it than the ones out in the country as my traps out here do not seem to be drawing in the swarms like they did last year. My guess is the in town bees had more watered lawns to forage on during the drought and mostly hive themselves inside houses and buildings so had a much warmer and sheltered Winter as well.

Just a theory but it fits the observable facts so far. Guess for some species towns are better than the country side.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. Loved the good/bad post..reminds me of an old song...ends with him landing in a haystack. Anyways, your town bee theory sounds solid.

    1. K - Thanks man!!! It's been a real up and down week so good/bad seemed fitting :)

  2. Ants are horrible here. I bought some new top feeders for the swarms I captured and the ants love it. When I put the extractor out in the apiary for the bees to clean I set each leg into a bowl of water. NO ANTS but plenty of stuck love bugs...I hate them too but at least they don't bite!

    congrats on your town capture. I got to get busy and re-bait my traps or put some in different locations. The bees seem to have lost interest in them but at least I have 3 hives going now that seem to be OK. I would love many more!

    1. MB - I tried actually putting my stand legs in oil pans and such but found the ants were still managing to get around that and once they got a foot hold they wouldn't leave.

      I hate ants.

      I am up to seven hives now, still three to go to get back to where I was and I really wanted to be at 15 this year.

  3. My Nuc' comes this Saturday. Should be interesting.
    My brother is up to 2 hives now. Says if anyone had told him, he'd enjoy working with bees, he would have told them they were crazy. Now he loves walking out and checking on his "girls".


    1. Leigh - I constantly go out just to watch my working girls coming and going. I finally moved most of my hives to out yards and only keep one big hive near the house along with whatever small growing colonies I am giving extra care to.

      Later in the season the girls start getting a bit less forgiving about intrusions and would chase me back into the house.

  4. What kind of bees do you run? We went with russians this year and have been VERY happy with them. I am going foundationless and just added a third medium super to two of our hives. We have only had them for less than two months and there was NOTHING blooming for at least two weeks of that.

    1. Gracie - I only have Mutts. Local bees ONLY for me. No packages, no straight races. I occasionally will order a queen but only from states North of me. I follow the Michael Bush philosophy of bee keeping and am aiming for a type of survival bee keeping. That being said I have mostly plastic frames for their longevity. The girls don't like em as much but once they are built out they don't care and they can be reused forever.

      I also am dabbling in a few top bar type hybrid hives I am building that would be easier to make in a grid down situation.

      I should do a post tonight on survival bee keeping.

  5. I feel sorry for what the ants have caused! Yes, they are everywhere, and the worst part is that they attack in colonies that can leave you hopeless. Anyway, I hope you'd find a way to save your honey from another ant attack.


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