Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blink and They are Gone

I will call myself a “Beekeeper” if I’m able to pull off my spring management without much of a snag. I’m fully aware of what is about to take place, the goal of most beehives in spring is to multiply by swarming (old queen and most of the workers leave taking most of the honey crop in search of a new home). What I’m not sure about is the time table MY bees and nature have in mind. Beekeepers in the state can tell me of their usual swarm dates, but their dates don’t necessarily coincide with my area.

I’m very dependent on one single date..... the delivery date of the new queen destined for my split. I’m getting somewhat concerned that the bees may swarm earlier and for all practical purposes jump start the gun.

Here is the reason why. This is the view of the hive on the fist week of January.

The bees sucked dry the feeder over the weekend. The minute it was dry, mold began to grow, and small hive beetles began sneaking in. I decided to remove the feeder to give it a good scrub down, and take a quick look on the progress by just looking down the supper frames. I’m truly amazed at how things can change if you blink at the wrong time. I fed them a total of 3 gallons (1:1 sugar water) for 2 ½ weeks. This was the view of the hive this afternoon.(6 weeks after 1st picture)

Is looking too healthy this early in the year a problem? I need to delay them for less than 4 weeks to the weekend of March 15th. I’m going to postpone feeding for now. I want to literally tear down the hive for a meticulous inspection. I'm going to remove any old queen cells from last year so that there is no confusing any in the next few weeks, and to confirm if they are progressing as good as I think they are, and check brood patterns (drone cells being a priority). I did get some awesome shots today like this one (see them all here)

There are two positives on my side as of now. My queen is about six months old. That's way too young for most queens to think about swarming and so far there are no live drones to be found. New queens need drones to mate. I know that and the bees know that, but blink right now and you can overlook the whole thing.

Side note, my TBH is in place. It needs a landing board, needs to be secure to the stand better, and needs started strips on the bars. I also hate the color, I'm looking for my never ending yellow paint can.

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