Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Are the Girls Thinking of Swarming?

Building comb on the inner lid cover
Two of our three hives have been so active we decided we'd take the first good warm day (today) and check them out and divide. Well, we went in today and Queen Madeleine's kingdom was booming but no signs of imminent swarming except for the fact she's laying many, many drones. No backfilling, no queen cells.

Since there were lots of fresh eggs we decided to divide anyway and let the bees in the queenless box raise a new queen.

We split up the bees and moved Madeleine (She's a pretty gal!) and company to the back of the yard where we are starting a satellite bee yard. We closed the hive to keep the bees in and gave that hive about two quarts of sugar syrup. We'll give them a few days to get acclimated to their new location and then open up the door. We'll call the new Queen Lauren when she appears.

When we opened Queen Rachel's hive we found all kinds of comb built in the shim space where we feed. Most of it was empty or filled with drone brood so we took it out and left it out of the hive. We decided not to split because although there were lots of bees there wasn't that much brood. So we put the bottom box which was mostly empty frames on the top and the new box which was going to become part of the spit underneath it. The two boxes with brood, nectar and pollen are on the bottom.

yellow, pink, and cream colored pollen coming in
Bees like to move up and Rachel's colony obviously preferred to build new comb in the penthouse rather than go down to the bottom of the hive. Hopefully switching box order will cure that and we will look to split if they show signs of swarming.

We didn't have any energy left to examine Queen Bianca except to open the top and see that she still has some hard sugar on top. That community is the weakest of the hives, but still looks good. Bianca is a 2015 Queen. Both Madeleine and Rachel are from 2016. So all three hives have relatively young queens and we hope to be in good shape for a great honey season.

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