I was a bit nervous, and I forgot to talk about a lot of things I wanted to talk about. Please let me know in the comments if anything needs further explaining or clarification.
If you’re from the East coast of the United States, you know about the recent invasion of the spotted lanternfly from China. It is causing all kinds of problems here. I live at ground zero for the pest, as it was first discovered just a few miles from here. Some places, they fly across the road while you’re driving like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I recently noticed my bees lapping up their sugary waste products, which rain down from the trees and collect on leaves below. Spotted lanternflies are very similar to aphids, only much larger. The excrement of aphids is called honeydew, and bees have been known to collect it and produce a honey-like substance. It seems that lanternfly waste is similar in composition, because I discovered my bees collecting it excitedly, along with bumblebees and butterflies.
While inspecting some colonies today, I could see the uncapped “nectar” of these bugs. It was as black and shiny as motor oil, and filled every available cell. This is a brand new thing for me, so time will tell how this odd source of sugar affects the bees, and whether spotted lanternfly “honey” will be a hit.
I had suspected that this colony was unsuccessful requeening itself after swarming 2 months ago. The activity had declined noticeably over that time. Now they are being robbed at 6am by several colonies on my yard. Once the event is over, it will give me a chance to take the spool apart and see what’s inside. Thankfully, I have many descendants of the original queen that came along with this colony, including the atleast 2 year old queen herself in a booming healthy colony.
I knew this swarm would have an unmated queen, so I brought them down with a mated queen.
I haven’t posted in awhile, because I’ve been so busy with bee stuff. Splitting, inspections, swarm chasing (mostly my own), and doing cutouts has taken up all of my spare time. I wasn’t sure how many colonies I had, so I finally walked around and counted them. 55!!! How the heck did this happen? And I’ve sold a bunch, and gave away just as many to close friends (who don’t treat). I have 2 more cutouts scheduled this week, so I’m going to need to find them a home. Anyway, I took some video of a swarm I shook off of a low tree branch at home. This was a secondary swarm from my overwintered feral tree colony that swarmed a couple weeks ago. This line of bees has very red looking queens, even though the workers are various colors. I thought she was going to take flight, but she quickly turns around and slips in. To me, it looked like she was surfing.
You can’t tell by the photo, but it’s raining, and these bees are soaked. I’m almost positive they came out of my fiber pot swarm trap in the background. But they may have come out of the spool colony. I’ll be able to tell upon closer inspection, since I marked hundreds of bees from the spool colony. If it had been a nice, sunny day, I would have shook some of these bees into a hive and watched the rest march in. But I decided today to just snip the branch, and lay them (twig and all) inside a nuc.
Two days ago, I collected a swarm a few miles from my house that issued from a nearby tree. I have a soft spot for tree bees, so I’ll be keeping them without requeening them.
Finally, I went to the house of a friend of mine to clean up a deadout and get it set up as a bait hive. Too late. A swarm had already moved in and they were dragging dead bees out, and bringing tons of pollen in.
Sorry for the hideous upright video, but my first swarm of the year was from my spool colony (if you can’t tell by the title). I had a feeling they were ready because of all the bees hanging outside overnight. They landed on the same short tree that previous swarms landed on, so it was an easy capture. I’m just glad I was home. If last year is any indication, they should swarm again in 9 days. Then again 9 days after that.