Sunday, June 16, 2013
Sunday Reading - Fathers Day? I call it Swarm Day!!!
I am guessing at this point most of my theories about the lack of swarm activity were wrong. What I am seeing this week has convinced me that we were just a month or so behind normal activities as the bees have been building themselves back up to comfortable levels.
Late this morning while checking my hives and looking for swarms I saw massive activity at that same swarm trap that has fooled me over and over this season. There were even more bees coming and going than I have seen to date. Then I looked over at my actual hives about 20 foot away from that trap and saw the largest swarm I have ever seen. The thing was at least two basketballs in volume.
If it came from any of my hives it could have only issued out of Plymouth colony. To be honest it has been almost a month since I looked for swarm cells in that colony's brood chambers. It had grown so large that it really had too many bees to manage effectively but this morning I did notice the traffic seemed to be down somewhat but I thought it might be because I had removed the pollen trap yesterday before the rains came in and reduced the traffic jam or maybe the weather was keeping them all inside.
Where ever this swarm came from it was huge as I said. I cut the branch it was on and I almost could not hold the thing off the ground with one arm at the angle I needed to. I carried it maybe 10 feet and put it into a brood box. Maybe a 10th of the bees (about the size of the picture above) went back to the small tree they had been in while the rest remained in the new hive box. I sat in my truck and watched them for about an hour and it didn't take long before the split off group took flight and settled in to the new box with the rest of them.
I had to remove all the frames from the box I put them in just to get them to fit properly. I then put about 5 frames back in and will add the other 5 this evening or tomorrow. I don't want to over crowd them too soon or they may take off for better real estate.
After returning from this happy hiving I took a stroll down to the trap I have out in the back of my hay field only to discover the second largest swarm I have ever seen attempting to fit themselves into that trap I have down there. They looked like a size 18 trying to squeeze themselves into a size 6 and I am not sure how many of them were already inside yet.
This tells me that I am seeing the prime swarms from the bee colonies that survived Winter. If I had missed the prime swarms these ones today would be just after swarms and they would be much smaller. It appears we are simply running about a month behind the season of the last few years, at least locally. I haven't checked the traps I have out about 10 miles South this weekend so who knows what they might contain.
The tanglefoot ant repellant appears to be making a huge difference as well. The two traps that were occupied this week so far were the ones I was having constant ant issues with but not anymore it seems!!!
Anyway I now have twice the work of producing medium supers for these new swarms than I had last night and I also have a nuc that is about ready to graduate to a full hive as well. As it stands right now all of my Winter losses have been replaced overall and I have actually grown by one hive. The final tally still rests on St. John colony and whether they can get built back up. So far St. John is not putting on the numbers near as fast as it should. I may have to pinch off their queen and just add those bees to one of my nucs.
Happy Fathers day everyone. Looks like I am going to miss it this year as I now must go into the shop for painting and banging together more bee equipment.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!