I keep honey bees in Reading, Bernville, and Fleetwood, PA without treatments. I love to garden and observe Wasps, Bumble bees, and ants. I also raise mealworms for my Eastern Spotted turtle and myself.
I was called about this colony last fall. I explained to the homeowner that removing these bees during the fall would very likely kill them. She agreed to wait until spring to have them removed. I was very excited to get the call a few days ago that they had overwintered.
They were in a relatively easy place to access, in the roof of a balcony.
The queen was located pretty easily on the second to last comb I removed. They were preparing to swarm, as most colonies are this time of year, with full combs of drone brood, and a few swarm cells just starting.
All of the combs fit the entire frames, except the last one, so I used that frame to band the queen cage into. I will release her after a few days.
There was still quite a bit of honey and bees left in the cavity when I was done. So I smoked them all away, and left the hive right underneath. The bees will rob the remaining honey. It will be much easier, and less sticky to finish cleaning up once they are done.
It was 53°f today, after many weeks of cold and snow, so I took several dozen strolls around the yard to look at my bees. All but a late swarm that starved were flying and bringing in a small amount of pollen. I think we are in the home stretch for spring, but I expect a few weak colonies won’t make it. If I were to put syrup on them now, they would definitely get robbed. I’m not worried though. I still have their sisters’ and mothers’ colonies to split and repopulate the equipment if they don’t pull through. Below is a video of some of my colonies, including the spool colony, now in its third year, left completely alone.
I was invited to speak at the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association in Skippack, Pennsylvania about acquiring swarms. It was my first ever PowerPoint presentation in front of an unfamiliar crowd. I was very nervous for weeks before the event, but after a few minutes, I calmed down and felt pretty good about it afterwards. The next day, an attendee sent me links to videos of myself on YouTube. I didn’t even know anyone was filming! The angle and resolution of the video are a little off at times, but it’s the only copy I know of right now. So here I am, in all my glory:
OH MY GOODNESS! (Full disclosure: These are not my pictures.) I had no idea that artichokes looked so beautiful when left to bloom. It is obvious why honeybees seem to love them. Artichokes are in the same family as thistle, so I assume their pollen and nectar supply is similar, as in very good. Now I just have to get a hold of some seeds or young plants. Has anyone ever let artichokes flower before?
It’s looking like I might have a banner year as far as surviving colonies goes, even with the polar vortex we just had. I won’t have as much equipment to devote to swarm traps, so I’m making a bunch of fiber pot traps. I already know they work really well, but the ones available in the catalogs are pretty expensive.