Friday, May 23, 2014

An Easy Day, If You're a Supervisor!!!

It was so nice in the shade today I don't think my first supervisor got out of her comfy chair all day. Mostly she watched me running back and forth loading up all the stuff I might need for a trip to the apiaries. I was kinda hoping I might be able to get a little early honey off one or two of the hives and there were a couple others that needed checking on to see if they needed a new brood chamber or extra surplus honey super.

The first hive I looked into today was an older one named St. John colony. It had almost completely died out back in the Winter of 2012 and maybe had 200 bees left by Spring of last year. I fed it and gave it a couple frames of eggs and it appeared to be building up well but still has a few frames int he bottom brood chamber that hasn't been drawn yet.

The other hives in that apiary were so light just a few weeks ago I know there isn't any reason to check em out right now. No way they could have back filled all the empty comb they had left over from Winter.

I had three hives over at the West Apiary that needed to be checked but I never made it past the first hive.

South Faulklands colony, which had been an early swarm captured last Spring so it is just now a bit over a year old was first on my list. I had added a honey super to it's first brood box last Fall sonce they weren't quite up to needing a full brood chamber yet. When I checked them this morning the first thing I saw that gave me a start were bees building new comb literally everywhere.

Hmmm... Then I saw the first of these....

There were at least ten swarm cups hanging off the bottom of the middle four frames in their top super. The queen appears to have been forced down into the bottom brood chamber and I really don't want this hive to swarm this year.

Now normally I don't stress on the swarming too much. It seems every time I try and stop em they just go right back to doing it anyway but this time I have a possible use for a new queen.

I grabbed two of the frames and took them back over to the North apiary and put them into the cutout hive that I think is queenless. I figure if the hive isn't queenless they will destroy the cups and the new queens inside them but if they don't have a queen yet, well now they can hatch one out.

Taking the other two frames that contained queen cups I put them into a small nuc box with some nurse bees and we will see what happens.

The way this is suppose to work is the first queen to emerge runs around and kills the other queens except for her mother. The mother then takes about half the colony with her and swarms while the new virgin queen takes her mating flight and assumes the throne. So to speak.

If everything works out right then the cutout hive will now have a queen, the small nuc will have a queen and the original hive will be content and not swarm now. This way I will have three related queens from that excellent building stock of my year old hive.

Ya. My plans never work out that well.

Here's the new nuc placed out in the garden apiary where I can keep an eye on it. I may not have gotten enough nurse bees to keep the frame of eggs and the queen cups warm. It's a bit early for making splits around here yet but we will see.

When I got back home the Supervisor had been joined by the Manager who assumed her own perch to make sure we all kept busy.

She likes sleeping on the roof of my son's convertible. These days she barely leaves her bed on my son's computer desk until dusk actually. I guess she is getting older now not sure how old she is but we have had her going on six years I think. She used to be the only female of any species allowed in the house and honestly I think she actually preferred it that way, so now days she hangs out with her boy and pretty much ignores everyone else. She is the only animal allowed in the son's room as far as I know.

Since the death of the old barn cat the manager is now the oldest Small-Hold pet and she let's em all know it.

Still no rain and the scattered thunder storms they keep predicting are going around us. This is looking so much like 2012 it is scary but there is still hope things will turn around.

I actually got the first section of the garden mulched this evening as well.

The squash and zucchini bed is always the first section I mulch up with dried grass clippings each year and almost always starts on Memorial Day weekend because the local who mows the cemetery dumps me a load of clippings on this weekend. The only time he actually sweeps up the clippings each year. From this point on I will use my own and the barn litter from lambing season.

We try and not waste a thing here at the Small-Hold.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. Good luck with the bees. Hope you get rain soon. The creeks are still running full here from our last heavy rain. The farmers are hitting their fields hard this weekend trying to catch up in their planting. I saw a bee/wasp/hornet yesterday and thought about you and the little ones. Have a good weekend. Don't let management get too pushy.

    1. Rob - We still have water int he creeks but the ground is getting dry once again, or it was anyway. Been raining today off and on.

  2. I have white clover growing all over the place and few bees, I think the farmers are using nasty spray and GMO corn that weakens them plus the global cooling doesn't help.

    1. Sf - I have found that my bees don't start hitting the white clover until later in the year when the trees are mostly done. Then I will see bees everywhere on the clover.

  3. PP,

    Your squash and zucchini bed is looking good. Have you had any squash bug problems this season?
    Sorry to hear about the old barn cat. Your two other cats seem to supervise you well :P

    1. Sandy - I haven't seen one yet but that doesn't mean much they will be around soon I imagine.


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