Red Swarm 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.

Second swarm at home

Swarm removal honey bees beekeeper

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.

First swarm of 2019 (Spool)

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.

First cutout of 2019

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.

Bee yard update

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.