Thursday, April 10, 2014

Splitting the Bee Hives

We examined our hives last week on a nice warm day and, oh my, the queens are doing an incredible job of providing workers for the nectar season. Such a good job that we need to split the hives and hopefully prevent swarming. We sure wouldn't want to lose these two ladies with another good year of laying ahead. So the past few days,

1) Larry went to the bee store to buy new equipment while I played with two little girls whose mommy just had a new baby.

2) Larry and Bianca put the boxes together.

3) Marianna and I filled the frames with wax foundation (sort of like a blueprint for the bees to draw honeycomb).

4)The girls helped us prime the boxes before they went home to love up their new baby brother.

5) Larry and I finished the painting the next day. (I love the green and yellow!)

6) Then we went out to play with the bees and introduce them to their new homes. Lots of fuzzy, healthy looking Spring newbees! We couldn't find the queen and ended up making a nuke with four frames of bees including queen cells with larvae and a frame of capped honey. We left active queen cells in the old hive as well.

7) Next to the last step, take the nuke to a temporary location so the foragers don't return to the original hives and leave the queen and nurse bees without outside workers. My brother's house several miles away makes a perfect temporary home away from home for the new nuke hive.

Bianca keeps an eye on the hive that will house "Queen Bianca" and her court.
(From a safe distance. She knows that, "Bees sting me.")

8) Last step will be to bring them back to our bee yard after a week or two when we see that a new queen is established and laying.

NB. We didn't get into our other hive until the next day when we realized Queen Elizabeth must have swarmed because there were at least twice as many bees in Queen Ann's hive and it was always the weaker colony. We put an extra super on to give them more room, but expect Queen Ann will swarm and hope we will be able to catch her and her court before they disappear. It will be an interesting new experience for us if we do. Meanwhile, the bees are busy as can bee and the early nectar flow is in progress.

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