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And Then There Was Two...

June 07, 2011

[caption id="attachment_292" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="this is the size of a large watermelon"]swarm of bees[/caption]

Sunday was an exciting day.  Experienced my first swarm and my first swarm capture. As witnessed in my previous post my hive decided to split and lucky for me they landed about 30 feet away and at eye level in a tree.  After calling as many people who could help me, only Melanie, a fellow urban beekeeper came to assist. We figured the swarm was about 8-10 pounds,  but not having the experience to really tell I can attest to it being a whole lot o bees.

Melanie had brought  some garden clippers so we could cut the branch off and dump the bees that by now, had bunched together. They were all waiting to head out when the scout bees had found a new home for them. They seemed very mellow and although I used gloves, Melanie did not. Her hive had swarmed 2 weeks earlier but she couldn't retrieve them before they disappeared. We grabbed one of the 2 plywood Nuc boxes I had made in March when I had some spare time. I encourage every new beekeeper to have at least one of these on hand for times like this, as swarming will happen to you eventually. [caption id="attachment_295" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="mellow bees"]mellow bees[/caption] [caption id="attachment_306" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="getting box ready"]getting box ready[/caption] [caption id="attachment_302" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="5 frame nuc with swarm"]5 frame nuc with swarm[/caption]

We suited up and  cut the large branch off and with the help of Melanie we just shook it off into the box. The bees seemed to be mellow and stayed in the box (mostly) We then cut off the smaller branches with clusters of bees and dumped them in the box. The whole process took about 15-20 minutes and was a lot easier than expected.  I was fearful of the queen taking off again  so the lid was put on after brushing the bees off the edges.

There was a lot of bees still flying  out around so we left the box for a while hoping to have some of the bees come in the box. [caption id="attachment_294" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="waiting for more bees"]waiting for more bees[/caption]

The bees didn't seem too interested in going in the box, perhaps because there was no room! The nuc box was taken up to the spot on the roof where the new colony would be so the bees would orientate to there rather than the tree area.

[caption id="attachment_298" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Nuc on the roof"]Nuc on the roof[/caption] [caption id="attachment_299" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Marching in"]Marching in[/caption]

The 2nd Nuc box has some sugar-water sprayed inside and placed at the area where the swarm landed in the hopes that the would go in the box and then be  taken up to the roof to be combined with the other Nuc box. We made a ramp with a piece of cardboard and they seemed to be flowing into the box, although it looked like a lot of them were just coming straight out again.

After quickly calling  Urban Bee Supply  (Thank you Lindsay!!) to get some new boxes and frames as well as bottom board and lids, I jumped in my car for the 50 minute drive there and back. On the way home I stopped to watch my son's little league game and got to see him hit one of the 2 home runs he had that day! I built one of the new boxes and prepped the area to set up the new hive. First thing though was to do an inspection of the original hive.  I wanted to see if the queen cups had developed into queen cells. I took the top medium off and there was 3 almost full frames of honey. I lifted the 2nd deep box off and it must have weighed about 80 lbs.  Looking at the top of the bottom box there it was, a queen cell. My heart dropped looking closely at the cell where it had ripped open when I pulled the boxes apart.  The pupae looked like it was close to hatching as well.  Hopefully there was more than one queen cell. The frame on the bottom box where I had originally located the queen cups still had them and they were uncapped but from what I could see there was only one that had larvae in it. I could not locate any other queen cells.  The rest of the Frames contained a mix of brood/honey with one frame of fresh eggs. only 1 frame had empty cells on one side.  I'm hoping that I missed a swarm cell or the queen cup develops into a queen or the colony will be queenless and possibly just fade away as the bees become foragers and die. Below is a pic of the missed and damaged queen cup/cell from the previous inspection of May 27. [caption id="attachment_310" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Queen cell missed and later damaged"]QUEEN-CELL[/caption] [caption id="attachment_300" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Into the hive"]Into the hive[/caption]

The middle box contained at least 2 frames that were fully capped honey on both sides. Man those frames where heavy. 2 frames had pollen and nectar. The rest of the frames were brood capped and uncapped with capped honey surrounding them entirely.  I'm thinking that the hive might have been honey bound although with 8 frames of brood on the bottom and 4 on the top and a 10 frame honey super as well I thought it should have been OK.  I will know now what to look for.

[caption id="attachment_291" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="2nd hive"]2nd hive[/caption]

After taking a frame of honey and a frame of pollen/nectar and placing it in the new hive box I opened the nuc and dumped it in.  Replacing the other 7 frames and a frame feeder was tricky with so many bees but taking my time i managed to get the frames in and the lid on. The 2nd nuc box was brought up as well but when I opened it there was only a handful of bees in it. Either they managed to find the Nuc with the queen or they just took off.

On a side note I forgot to fill the feeder so did it the next morning and when i checked that evening they had finished off about 1 1/2 liters of syrup!  I'm hoping for the best and that the original hive requeens itself and the new colony sticks around.

Here is a short video of the actual swarm capture. If you want to meet your neighbors that you never see, just have a bee swarm. They will all come out to see what is up.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz7NojjeObs]




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