I can’t remember if I told you or not, but last fall I had bees from one of my hives leave. Before we had left on vacation, both hives were doing well. I had inspected them a few days before we were to leave and both hives had a good amount of honey stored up. When we returned though, one hive was empty. No dead bees just no bees at all. Had I killed the Queen inadvertently when I did the inspection? Was it really a weaker hive to begin with and I hadn’t recognized the signs? Was this Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)? I don’t know for sure, but several beekeepers told me it sounded more like CCD. Bees will leave the hive (or swarm)in the spring due to overcrowding, but bees that leave their winter supply of food for no apparent reason is a mystery to many beekeepers and scientists alike.
The one hive I had left was strong. It survived the winter and obviously has a good queen because in March when I inspected, both hive bodies were overflowing with bees.
Fearing a swarm later on, I thought about splitting the hive. I had never done that before and was hoping to find someone to actually come out to the farm and help. Unfortunately, all the beekeepers I talked to were busy with their own hives and unable to make a physical trip to my place.
So, I made an executive decision and decided to add another super on top to ease the overcrowding situation. I put 3 frames of bees from the middle box in the top box and replaced those with empty frames. I’m not sure that’s acceptable protocol or not but what’s done is done. (I have a tendency to overthink and research things to death so this spur of the moment decision is kinda monumental for me.) This addition was done about 3 weeks ago.
The beehive and box in the background is a new group of bees I received last weekend. The white box contains a nucleus (or nuc) of about 3000-5000 bees.
These boxes contain 5 frames of bees with their queen. These frames are transferred into the deep hive body (gray box)
with 5 empty frames so they have ample room to grow. Sugar water is given as a ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ gift and they are left alone for about a week. I’m hoping to get a peek inside this weekend if the rain lets up.
When I installed the nuc into the new hive body last weekend, I also checked the progress of the bee condo. I was shocked to see all frames filled in the middle box and all but 2 in the top. Look at this
It was dripping off my hive tool.
I am so excited! I then realized I will need to get more honey supers ready to add to the top of the bee condo. I had ordered some extra hive bodies a few weeks ago, but wanted each grandchild to paint one with their favorite color. We got both of them together recently, gave them a brush and let them loose.
So much fun!
Our 5-year old granddaughter asked if she could help with the bees, so I’m hoping to find her a bee suit. I think all she really wants to do is operate the smoker, but I love that she’s so interested in learning about them.
There is still a chance the bees in the bee condo will swarm. Sometimes, I’m told, no matter what precautions you take to prevent this, once they get it in there little bee heads to leave, they leave. I’m keeping my fingers crossed just in case.
If all goes well, I hope to do my first honey harvest soon. Some good friends of my dad have given us a honey extractor. This extractor is stainless steel tub with a hand crank to spin out the honey. That’s all I know about it at this time.
I better go overthink and research it.