Friday, May 23, 2008
Be careful the things you wish for, you just might get them...
My brief news spot last week landed me in something I am not sure I was ready for. I got a call a day after my big news story from a lady in Huntsville who had a colony of bees take up residence in the column on their front porch. This was my big chance to move into the beekeeping big leagues, so I had to take the chance. Besides, if I didn't get the bees out, they would have poisoned them. What's a self-respecting hobby beekeeper to do?
So I built a bee vacuum, did a lot of reading (props to Basic Beekeeping for the detailed description of how to) and thought the best way to learn is to do.
Friday morning at 0700 I cut into a column of bees. The ten foot column was about 8" diameter at the top and about 12" at the bottom. Comb ran from the top to about 3 feet from the bottom and there were bees everywhere. They told me that the swarm had only been there about a month, but they were a strong colony. I pulled a lot of brood comb out of that colony along with a bunch of honeycomb. The honey tastes great, but because it wasn't all capped, I will remove it from the comb, collect the wax, and put the honey back out for the bees. Waste not, want not, right?
I built a top bar beehive to house the new colony because I am interested in comparing both types of hives and right now I am not sure if they have accepted their new home or not. They are inside, outside and all over it, so I may have bitten off a bit more than I could chew. I did throw brood comb in both the top bar hive and the langstroth in the hopes that if I don't have a queen in either colony (I never saw the queen from the colony I removed from the column) I will hopefully be lucky and let the bees raise up a new one.
CJ is tired of bees right now. Preparing for the colony removal has consumed almost my entire week from Tuesday night until Saturday and she's just a little jealous of my attention to the 100,000 ladies I have brought home to roost. I think I will enter a hands-off beekeeping stage right now. I have an observation window built into the side of the top bar hive and I'll check it nightly, but beyond that, I think I'll give the bees a week or more to just settle in.
I will pray a little for their success. My ineptitude and lack of skill may just prove too much at this point, but I will certainly hope that the bees are more tenacious than that. I mean, they've survived far worse than this, right?
For the record, I got stung on the forehead after all of the major work was done. I was cleaning up the honey, comb, sawdust, bee, tool, etc. mess after the removal and one stray worker bee figured (rightly) that I was responsible for the destruction of her home and she exacted her revenge by stinging me. That makes three stings that I have felt: two on the day I collected my first swarm and one yesterday. None of them have been all that bad, but they certainly aren't pleasant. Hopefully I will gain some immunity to the venom and the swelling (which isn't bad right now) will be even less. What I really don't like is the itching for the days after...