Hive inspection

Swarms, Splits, and New Queens

I never know exactly what I’ll find when I go to the bee yard.  My goal today was to see how the splits we made  were doing and to check in on the queens in the other hives.

Black Locust in bloom

I’ve always been interested in nature, but keeping bees in North Carolina has made me super aware of the trees and plants blooming.  Last year the Black Locust trees got burned in a late frost but this year they are blooming and are beautiful.  So the first thing I did (after making sure Lady, the dog had her treat) was to admire the Black Locust.

Crimson Clover

In addition to the Black Locust, there is other stuff in bloom.  Aubrey is a great bee advocate and makes sure that the bees and other pollinators have good things to feed on.  Near the farm house, he has a big area of crimson clover that he planted as a cover crop.  But it’s blooming now and there were bees in it (even though I’m not very good at capturing them).

As I approached the bee yard, I notice bees flying around the cypress that stand behind the bee hives.  We sometimes get swarms landing in the cypress and they are always up high and impossible to retrieve.  This time they were low and I was able to easily get them.  I believe they came from my really huge Purdue hive.  I had pulled the queen out of this hive when I started to see swarm cells (and she’s doing fine in another hive in the yard) so the hive must have multigenerational swarm cells and the first queen to emerge must have decided to swarm.   I shook the bees into a cardboard nuc box, added some nice smelly frames and a frame with some brood and food, and put the lid loosely on top.  After a while all of the bees were in the box.  I never saw the queen but they clearly thought she was in there.

Swarm on low branches of cypress tree

Everyone went into the box

While the swarm bees were busy going into the nuc box, I checked on a couple of the splits. One of the splits from my hygienic italian hive had a new queen. I think she hasn’t been out to mate yet because she still looks small and she wasn’t moving in a queenly fashion yet, so I’m anxious to see how she’ll do. I was easily able to find the opened queen cell I think she came out of.

New queen from hygienic italian hive

Open queen cell – I think this is the one the queen came out of. Swarm cell on the bottom of the frame.

I didn’t get through all of the hives because of dealing with the swarm, but I’ll be back tomorrow to check on the rest.

The swarm is now in a hive at my friend-nemesis Dave Mudd’s house. Dave calls me “the Crazy Bee Lady” and he’s probably right.

Leave a Reply