Thursday, June 3, 2010

Trying to Avoid a Swarm

My bees have been busting at the seams. Especially Hive #1 with the purchased queen. She's doing a little bit too well.

Since I've been told you really don't want swarms this early in spring there appears to be only two ways to stop the bees from swarming. One is to remove any queen cells that they create (which means opening the hive constantly and checking). The second is to keep giving them more room.

I know that if I remove queen cells they'll just rebuild them. I focused on giving them lots of room. Over the last three weeks I have increased Hive #1 by three honey supers and Hive #2 by two supers. As the bees built comb and filled it, I would add another super to keep well ahead of them.

It's the heat that gets them thinking about swarming so early in the season.

Two weeks ago when I looked at the hives, it was a really hot day - around 28 degrees Celsius. There were quite a few bees on the stoop and quite a few had formed some clumps on the left and right side of the hive. I wondered if they were thinking about swarming. I gave them a super to give them more space.

I also put some tongue depressors (like fat popsicle sticks) between the inner cover and the last super to create a space for the heat to vent out.

The hives are in full sun which makes me think I should have planned my bee yard placement a little better. But remember last year I had to remove my bees in a hurry from the swamp so there wasn't a lot of time to think things through.

At the bee meeting, one beekeeper reported that of his 13 hives he had 13 swarms. Others reported that their hives had swarmed too. A beekeeper selling nucs said he had to go to 25 hives in order to make up 15 nucs - all due to swarming.

I'm very suspicious after seeing my bees last weekend that both hives may have swarmed. At some point I'll see the queen on Hive #1 and if she has paint on her back I'll know she's my Elizabeth Queen. If not, then the hive swarmed and the bees made a new queen.

The hive is plenty busy but just doesn’t seem as busting with bees now compared to 2 weeks ago. Dad says it's because they're all out working. It could be. Also, I didn't tear the whole hive apart to look. No need to disrupt them that much anyway.

This summer is coming fast, furious and hot! Let's hope it isn't a wash-out with rain like last year. The bees are loving it and so am I.
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