Sunday, July 13, 2014

Just another Friday night....

We had big plans to sit around the campfire Friday night and eat, relax, watch the boys play, relax some more, etc.

I was getting supper out to the fire, around 5:00 and Rod tells me to come out back, he heard a noise.  I walked over and from the garage door we could hear our bees in the field out back!  We walked back and thousands of them were circling around and around together right around the corn field behind the hives.  Then they gravitated over to the tree and began to swarm.  Oh shucks, that's not what we want!

In short, bees are programmed to swarm (leave their current hive to find a new home), but it's a bee keepers job to make sure that it doesn't happen.  They swarm for a couple different reasons.  One being if another queen hatched within the hive, the old queen leaves and many follow, causing the swarm.  Another reason is if the hive is too crowded the queen again will leave, causing a swarm.  Their ultimate goal when they swarm is to find a new home.  They would leave this tree within a day and find another home.

Well, once you have bees you feel like they belong to you and you're not willing to let them up and leave.  Well that's my take anyway.  So we captured the swarm, and put them into another hive.  You should never put a swarm back into their original hive.

This was so fascinating!  We called a couple people, got some advice and a friend/fellow beekeeper came over for moral support and to provide us with another hive to put our swarm in.

I operated the backhoe and Rod cut down the branch with the bees on.  They were up pretty high.  They are not angry after swarming because they don't have a home and therefore have nothing to protect.  We walked  them over to their new hive, set them down right at the entrance and they eventually all went in on their own.  Rod did scoop some of them in to get them started.

We looked for the queen, and couldn't find her.

And then I walked over to the tree where they were, and saw the remaining bees that were left behind swarmed again.  This time it was a much smaller ball.  Thinking the queen might still be in that ball of bees, we had to go up and cut the new limb down with the bees on.  This time i went up and got them.

After these bees went in, we felt like we had almost all of them into their new home.  And so far, they are happy in there.  The old hive, hopefully has a new queen in it already, or the workers may be "making" a new one.  If they don't, the bees will all eventually leave that hive.  Every hive needs one queen and they know if she's not there.  To make a queen, the worker bees need to feed a female larva a substance they make called royal jelly, this makes the larva bigger and she hatches out as a queen, vs. a worker.

Such a learning experience with this.  Apparently this is a big year for swarming.  Hoping the other hive doesn't do the same thing.  It's very full of bees!

So our chilling out by the campfire started later then expected :)  the boys camped out in the barn overnight and Rod and i hung out at the campfire from 10:00 on.  better late then never.

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