Thursday, April 16, 2009

Win Some, Lose Some

GP took away my strongest hive last week. I have missed it. I still have four hives in the home beeyard and one across town, but there's something sad about saying goodbye to the first colony of bees I ever had.
Of course, that ONE swarm has given me four swarms this year, (unfortunately I haven't caught all of them) so I have the next generation of the original colony in at least two of my five current hives. My problem comes with the condition I let the original colony leave in.
This colony was established in a Langstroth hive, with two deep hive bodies, 9 or 10 frames in each one. Comb was drawn out on every frame, and there was a shallow honey super on top that the bees were just beginning to draw out comb into. When GP and I opened the hive, we found a number of queen cells that we unwisely left intact. Once GP got the hives home, those queen cells opened and the colony swarmed and swarmed and swarmed until now there is very little left to the original colony. GP is a busy man and did not have time to catch every swarm, so he's down to two weak colonies, although he should have quite a bit of brood going in the main hive. I feel bad for not preventing the swarms. It's still early in bee season here, so he has plenty of time to let the colony rebuild, but it may be a weak honey year for him because what was once 70,000 bees is now maybe 10,000. Bummer.
Back on the home front, I plan on opening the top bar hives in my own beeyard early next week and looking for capped brood. I want them to be well underway before I send them to George's orchard, Beeyard #3. Every morning I see a flurry of activity at the entrance to all of them, so the bees have stayed and seem to be doing what they do best. Now I just have to encourage them to build straight comb along the topbars.
One last remark. I continue to get calls about swarms, but lately they are from people in TN. That's too far for me to travel to catch them. I'd love to do it, but I still have responsibilities to fulfill at home and work.

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