Where Did May Go?

By | June 1, 2012

May 2012 was quite the month which only partly explains why I haven’t written in so long.  Some observations and results for May:

As I predicted somewhere along the way, this year was incredible for swarms.  I read that some old-timers said it hasn’t been this good in 20 years.  Every single hive at the house save the nuc swarmed, and one swarmed at least twice, probably more than one hive swarmed twice.  This got to the point where I was almost afraid to go out and look in that general direction during mid-afternoons for fear of seeing yet another swarm hanging.  I got lucky in that I never found one hanging out of reach in a tree, then again I’m not positive I saw every swarm, I’m sure some just left.


As for the alfalfa hives, I only had two surviving hives there.  One of them I believe swarmed, I haven’t yet dug through it to find a new unmarked queen.  When I do I’ll be sure to mark her.

The Neffsville swarm from last year was one of the biggest swarmers.  It swarmed at least twice if not three times.  The prime swarm escaped me and moved into a barn less than a mile away.  I know that’s where they went because I tried to retrieve them but when I got there they had moved too far back for me to get them with my vac.  Jim Pinkerton came in later and was able to get them using solid (as opposed to corrugated) tubing on his vac for reach.  So he now has that original queen.  I’m going to ask him to raise at least a few queens from her.

Only one hive, the Keeney hive (more later on names, or lack thereof).  That hive just seems to be a dud and I’m unsure what to do.  It’s not really growing or shrinking, it’s just sort of sustaining, which is not what hives should be doing in a spring this good.

The hives right now are in honey mode.  Three of the hives that survived have two supers, one has a single super.  All of these are full or very nearly full of honey or soon-to-be-capped honey.  I should get a crop of at least 100lbs this year, maybe up toward 120.  That would be quite the haul I think.  I’m sure if I would be more skilled at managing hives specifically for honey production I could do much better, but I manage the hives just well enough to keep the bees healthy and hopefully booming in bees.  And speaking of booming in bees…

The drones are just everywhere this year.  The hives that are doing well are just awash in drones.  It seemed that when the hives were getting ready to swarm, the queen would forgo laying in worker cells but still lay in drone cells.  I don’t get it, but I’m not alone.  Others have reported the same.  I’ve made a drone trap but I haven’t yet put it to use.  I may try it out soon just to see if it’ll work, although once I harvest I don’t really care.

So the results of May as it pertains to hives?  I came out of winter with 5 full size hives and a nuc.  I now have 10 hives made up of 8 full size hives and two nucs.  This explains the lack of names, I just couldn’t keep up anymore with the names I had, so it’s back to the drawing board on that.  I’m planning to sell a full size hive which is really only just a single 8-frame medium but is doing well.  This hive is from one of my own swarms that I retrieved.  I have an outside swarm that’s overflowing a nuc.  I want to get those outside bees into a full size hive but don’t want to do so until I sell the swarm from my yard.  In downsizing a little I want to keep those outside genetics.  I like the idea of two nucs for winter though so I’ll start another soon after, maybe with a queen I raise here.

One other venture begun in May was the installation of an observation hive in the environmental center at the Park at Governor Dick.  I did this under the auspices of the PA Backyard Beekeepers Association.  They provided the hive and the package of bees that got it started.  They seem to be doing well and the hive will be dismantled in the fall.  The park was very happy to get the bees, it makes a nice addition to their center.

I plan to harvest in about two weeks.  I’m really hoping the honey that isn’t capped yet will be by then.  If not then I’m not sure what I’ll do.  I’d really like to set myself up to be able to label and sell some, and to do so I’ll need an outside kitchen/building in which to extract.  That’s in the works, hopefully I’ll figure something out.

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