Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Reading - A New Hive is Born

I have really neglected my hives this Spring. Of course they are not the only thing that was neglected this year due to the pre-Spring dry period being so short, lambing season being so hectic and the grass getting an early kick off. Not to mention this huge fencing project.

I knew Henricopolis hive was getting crowded. They started bearding early during the few 80 degree days we had and when a hive starts bearding that early it's a good sign they are going to swarm as soon as possible. I just really thought I had at least another two weeks before swarms would be kicking into gear.

Boy was I wrong.

While I was hanging the gate for the garden this afternoon Henricopolis kicked out a very respectively sized swarm. I was extremely lucky in that A. I was standing less than 30 yards from it as the cloud of bees came out. And B. The swarm decided to settle on a this branch which was only about 8 foot or so off the ground and easily snipped off with my shears.

I set up a new hive in the old position Jamestown had been in. Gave em half a brood chamber full of frames already drawn out and half a surplus super of drawn frames as well. Then carried the branch over and knocked the ball of bees off into the hive. The swarm ball didn't even have time to send out any scouts and the few stragglers were already marching into the hive entrance within a minute or two. If they stay in there I will have to say it was one of the easiest swarm captures I have ever done.

I will watch em closely tomorrow and if they swarm back out of the hive I gave them I may need to transfer a frame of eggs from one of the other hives to keep em in place. Typically the queen and the nurse bees will not abandon eggs and larva but I am betting I won't have to go tot hat length.

One reason I don't stress over much about Winter dead outs anymore. The real cost in resources and time is in the comb, frames and wooden ware of the hive. By having the ability to put a new swarm into a hive that is almost completely drawn out and ready cuts down on the build up phase. It's also the main reason I shy away from all the top bar type hives too as they are more problematic to shuffle around than solid frames. Not to mention the loss when it comes time to harvest honey.

Henricopolis hive will need to be watched fairly closely now to be sure the new queen mated properly and begins to lay and I really need to open her up and check for any missed swarm cells. After swarms can really hurt a hive even if the primary one doesn't set it back too far to begin with.

Because of the swarm I didn't get any new posts sunk this afternoon but we did get the first section of fence strung and one gate hung. We actually used the 8N with the big bale spike on her to transport the roll of fence. I adjusted the top arm all the way down so when raised the main spike came up at about a 40 degree angle. This allowed us to transport the heavy roll of woven wire and then unroll it like a sheet in front of the posts. It actually turned out to be one the easiest fence stretching episodes I have ever done.

More posts are scheduled for going into the ground tomorrow before a new round of mowing starts tomorrow afternoon. This is one of the harder sections to do so I am looking forward to having this finished within the week if the rain cooperates.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!


  1. I have never fully understood the attraction of top bar hives.

    1. TB - I think the main selling point is that everything inside is as close to au-naturelle as possible. I know for a long while the foundation makers were attempting to make frame cell sizes too big that caused more of a mite problem. Still foundation-less frames for the brood chambers would basically create the same thing and be re-useable too.

      For me it came down to a matter of how best to manage the overall resources. In a grid down situation though we would all pretty much have to go top bar eventually though.


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