Thursday, April 26, 2012

April swarm from top bar hive

They finally did it!  The bees from my top bar hive swarmed.  And what an amazing swarm it was.  They say a basketball sized swarm will do well. This was at least 3 basketballs in size!  Unfortunately they swarmed in the neighbors backyard.  She, for good reason, was freaked out but calmed down when we assured her that bees are the most docile when swarming.  My 9 year old son Fin demonstrated this by standing below the swarm and gently cupped the bottom-most bees.  He is fearless when it comes to bees and has read every beekeeping book we have, so he is a good bee advocate.  My younger son Asher's appreciation of the bees runs more towards their honey-making capabilities.
The neighbor was kind enough to allow a large group of on-lookers to congregate in her yard taking photos and running around wildly (my 2 boys).  She also didn't make a fuss when fellow beekeepers came by and sawed the large branch of her tree in order to catch the swarm.  Thanks so much!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bees Galore

Welcome back Spring!
It is nice to get back to posting after a long break. The winter seemed especially cold to me since this was our first winter with bees, I fretted for them every cold snap but they seemed to get through it like champs! We winterized the hive as suggested by Backyard hive and I peeked with trepidation through the observation window every few weeks and wondered how an insect smaller than my thumb nail could survive weather I could barely manage with many layers of clothes, and probably not a small layer of fat.
In February we had some warm days and the bees started flying. By the last week in February they were actually returning to the hive with their pollen baskets full. I could not for the life of me find anything in bloom except a few daffodils, but the girls were very busy.
The hive was growing very rapidly and by the end of March, the hive was so full I had to take the last bar of comb. Their numbers were so great that they started bearding and stayed out every night despite the cold temperatures.
(some of the pictures above I photo shopped an accidentally stretched them out. Now the bees look like runway models, sorry girls!)
Then we noted drones. Lots of drones, and I knew that any day they would swarm. I have to keep reminding myself that the purpose of this hive is to increase genetic diversity and allow the bees to swarm. I just want to make sure that they don't end up swarming on a neighbor's eaves. I want them to be safe and successful