2013 - What's Happened So Far

By | June 8, 2013

I will label these hives, I will, I will, I will…someday.

All 8 hives survived the winter.  One of these was a nuc.  I sold that nuc to a friend.  One hive then had swarm cells on multiple frames.  I made two nucs from those, both mated successfully.  After it mated I gave one of those to the observation hive I’m maintaining at the environment center at Governor Dick Park.  So a net gain of one 0 after selling the nuc that overwintered.  I gave the remaining nuc made from the swarm cells to my son, so a net loss of 1 with respect to the wintered bees, but all alive, just changing ownership.

I got one swarm call so far plus a package this year.  The package was really intended to go to the Governor Dick Park, but the nuc went instead as it was more ready to go at the time they needed it.

Status right now is 3 yards.  One here at the house, one at the alfalfa field, and a third at a 40 acre plot of CRP land owned by a member of the Lancaster County Beekeepers Society.  I’ve also just recently secured a 4th location in which I plan to put splits in July.  That location is north of me in a little town called Hopeland which no longer has a post office so is officially Lititz addresses.  3-4 hives will go there.

The home yard is now essentially for nucs.  My son wants to be involved in bees so he’s going to try raising and wintering nucs here at the house.  I still have the full size hive on the scale here at the house but I don’t think it’s doing well.  I’m almost positive it’s queenless.  I’ve been giving it frames of brood little by little but they have yet to raise a queen.  I think it’s got some laying workers.  I’m trying to rescue it but I may have to just use those bees w/splits later on.  I may get a super of honey from it this year, I’d say 6 frames at least, but we’ll see.

At the alfalfa I’ve got my usual dud hive that just can’t seem to get off the ground.  I took some pictures today, I’m going to post them online and ask for opinions.  That location also has the new swarm as well as the package that were both mentioned above.  It also has two surviving hives from last year for a total of 5 hives.  I think I’ll get 2 1/2 supers from each of the two survivors for a total of 5 supers, maybe it’ll be closer to 6, we’ll just have to see what happens with the rest of June.

The third yard is at Larry’s.  That’s his name so that’s the name of the yard.  I’ve got three hives there.  These three hives are wintered survivors that were at the home yard but that were moved to Larry’s in early May now that the home yard is mostly for my son’s nucs.  One of those hives at Larry’s is just unbelievably awesome.  On track to easily give 3 supers.  A second hive is doing above average, it could attain 3 supers, will definitely give 2 1/2.  The third hive is terrible.  It’s queenless and barely has any bees.  I found a pile of dead bees outside the hive during my visit at the end of May.  I don’t know what happened, possibly a swarm that hung off the hive and was battered by rain, I just don’t know.  The bees were dead when I saw them, so I wasn’t able to see how they died.  The situation almost looks like a pesticide kill, but there are two other hives sitting right next to it that look so good.  This hive needs torn down and just combined with the other two.  They have what probably amounts to a super of honey, so I’ll put that on the other two hives in some way and shake out the bees in front of those two.  I’ll then bring the comb home and try dry ice as a moth deterrent, then use the comb for July nucs.

All told I’m hoping for about 250lbs of honey this year.  I plan to harvest the first week of July depending on what’s capped and what’s not.

After harvest I plan to keep the boxes off the hives, which compresses the bees terribly, so at that point I’m going to pull bees from the hives to make nucs.  I also may raise some queens for those nucs, but if I’m going to do that I really should plan my grafting date carefully so I can make those nucs at almost the same time that I take the supers off, otherwise I really should plan to give a super back to each hive.  I did that last year, and ended up with hives that wintered with 4 boxes.  I’d rather not do that, because if I feed I then end up with sugar syrup in a box that could be put on the spring to contain honey.  And the bees just don’t need 4 boxes, 3 is plenty since I insulate.

Next post will probably bee either about grafting to produce queens, harvesting, making nucs, or some combination of those topics.

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