2018: Bee hive swarms, colonies, lessons, etc.

CLSranch

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Congrats to everyone's good build ups.And Yes Soars it is cold in OK on a low eleavation. Had a few weeks of sub zero temps (very rare) this last winter. Worse it was 60's the week before.
And babs I agree with chooks. Before I started keeping bee's I had A feral hive in my yard. A lot of wild plums 200yds away and never seen the bee's on them. But go for a ride (horseback) and they were everywhere.
 

CLSranch

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Also it's warming up finally and I have one tree (maple) blooming in my yard, and the bee's were hitting it hard Sunday. Days after setting up swarm traps. Also a few nice wild flowers. An old house is abandoned but the nice flowers have spread across town.
 

soarwitheagles

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Sure hope your flow picks up soon dear Oklahomians!

Here, a couple of miles away, a massive wild mustard flow...yellow flowers as in square miles of it...but...

It caught me by surprise...and yesterday I discovered nearly every one of our hives is filled to overflowing...and that is not good at all...

Nearly every hive has large numbers of capped or nearly capped queen swarm cells...

Now we are in scramble mode...surgically remove queen cells, make nucs, and install these queen cells in each nuc...

Darn, I wanted to make the splits much more carefully...at our leisure. Now, that is not gonna happen.

I am beginning to suspect that last swarm was from our own bee yard. I will not know for certain until tomorrow when we go in a look for the queen. If she is painted with yellow, it is a swarm that originated from our yard...
 

CLSranch

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Soars How did the splits go? I was reading your thread on beesource. It seems the experts say you may be well on your way to having the numbers you want for your almond contract.
 

soarwitheagles

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Soars How did the splits go? I was reading your thread on beesource. It seems the experts say you may be well on your way to having the numbers you want for your almond contract.

CLS,

Well, considering I made what I consider some massive blunders, I feel we did well.

If not for a good friend and master beekeeper, I would have been in big trouble.

JRG came over and helped me for most of the day...and he is considered one of the best master beekeepers in our area. So I am super fortunate to have a friend like him.

Also, I shared my dream of launching a bee pollination business and now we are considering being business partners too. His knowledge of bees and his overall level of intelligence far exceeds mine, yet the guy is humble as can be.

He doubled my number of hives in less than a day. I worked all day in the bee yard, he worked nearly all day. The guy also has an ability to cut queen swarm cell cups off of frames like a professional surgeon. Three quarters of the way through our work day, I began to struggle with focusing, concentrating, and thinking through the implications of moving frames, checkerboarding, cutting our queen cells, etc. To be 100% honest with you, ya gotta be 100% there mentally when you are working with bees...and I wasn't. You can tell a true friend when they see that you are struggling, yet they remain kind and gracious, and get the job done, yet have zero thoughts and feelings of pride, arrogance or superiority. So that being said, he is a true friend and a treasure.

Here is my post at Bee source...

Go to work we did...

I worked the bee yard all day long. Began with setting up new ant proof beehive stands. Slapped the wheel bearing grease in the inverted PVC caps, installed the upper rails, and away we went!

Huge, huge thanks to master beekeeper and friend JRG. He came over and did most of the work while I did my best to watch and run to set things in order such as grab new boxes, new SSB's new tops, frames with honey, frames with pollen, frames with comb, etc. I feel watching him work with bees is better than any beekeeper class I take. Wow, I have done well over a few hundred hours of reading and studying up on bees...but watching a master beekeeper at work...there is simply no substitute. Best of all, he encouraged me to work with him in handling the bees and setting up nucs, etc. For me, this is the best way to learn...by doing it!

Thanks again JRG for your time, patience, incredible knowledge, and your help that not only saved a lot of colonies from swarming but thank you for multiplying my bee yard more than double and all that in less than a day!

Thanks to all here that also contributed to the thread by sharing your ideas and concerns.

We did many, many splits as people here recommended. I also watched JRG cut out sealed queen cells with a surgeon like precision and install them in various nucs. Other nucs, we were able to simply install a frame with the sealed queen cups on the frame.

My biggest take away lessons are these: I cannot afford to neglect colony inspections during a large flow and the 80% rule sure is a good rule to know and follow.

I was looking too much at the lack of clover flowers and the lack of eucalyptus bloom. Also, in my mind, I minimized the massive wild mustard bloom a couple of miles way. There are areas where it is solid yellow blooms for a couple of square miles and that is what I believed launched the bees on a large scale, very fast build up.

Every colony appeared healthy and thriving, but we discovered one colony that had one of those monster queens that drag her abdomen across the foundation as she lays...and this is the colony that was the strongest and healthiest in my mind. I hope to start grafting from that queen in the next few days.

I will try to post pics later.

Have a great day everyone!!!
 
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soarwitheagles

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Oh boy, swarm season has kicked into high gear here...

We had a few storms in the last few weeks [desperately needed by the way], and the storms put a dampener on the swarming trigger of bees here...

This week, clear blue skies, and it is as if some unknown person blew the trumpet for the bees to swarm!

I have placed swarm traps in various locations at our ranch and also in various cities within an hour drive from our ranch...

Bam, bam, bam...swarms are hitting non-stop right now.

Almost as fast as we can build the swarm traps...so this is my new focus...build more swarm traps as fast as I safely can!

And now another lesson...I am posting this so people can learn from my mistakes and ignorance!

Outward looks can be soooooooo deceiving...

I kept looking at a swarm trap for 3-4 days...but there was only a little traffic going in and out...it was definitely NOT like In N' Out burger where there always appears to be a steady flow...

Here's the trap, with very little outward traffic.

Looks can be deceiving.JPG


I decided to take the trap down and look inside...

And my first lesson was learned super fast...because I placed this trap up 12 feet, I had to work on it with a ladder and...I came so close to falling with the trap in my hands up at 12 feet high...I was working alone and had no one to help me. Not very smart. The trap was super heavy. And our balance is not as good as we age...

Lesson learned: keep ALL traps low enough to be able to remove them while standing on the ground.

Next, I unscrewed the top of the trap and lifted the lid super slowly....and...wow, what a pleasant surprise!

First peek.JPG


I did a double take...and then decided to take another photo too just to make sure I was not imagining the entire scene!

Another peek.JPG


Next I pinched myself super hard and...sure enough, I was not dreaming! This was the real deal!

I then proceeded to examine the frames that were inside the trap....

A look at the first frame.JPG


I discovered they were nearly completely full of bees and most of the frames had fresh pollen and nectar!

Another frame.JPG


Time to move these frames full of bees into a real genuine beehive box and make a brand new hive/colony!

Transfer frame to new box.JPG


Then I moved another frame of bees into the new bee box!

Transfer another frame to new box.JPG


Oh my, let's not forget the remainder of the bees in the trap!

Wow look what is left over.JPG


Time to sweep them in, but I couldn't find my bee sweeper! Improvised with a piece of cardboard hoping the bees would forgive me...

Sweep em in.JPG


Last, I put a lid on top, but much to my surprise, I discovered they were bearding at the front of the hive and this was happening on a cool evening...very unusual and I have no clue why they did this...

Not sure why they are bearding on a cool evening.JPG


I will now wait a couple of weeks, then open the box to see if there is an egg laying queen!

Mission accomplished and I feel a little bit like Tom Cruise...
 

CLSranch

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Great catch Soars. If something happened to the queen, their is some young eggs in there to make a queen cell out of. But I wouldn't worry none. There

The swarm season here is on the approach. I have 2 hives set up for them. Swarm traps I don't have to move and 4 others. I will have to leave town soon after our next warm up. Freezing temps this Sun again.
 

CLSranch

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Hope if they go for my NOT hives they do it now or in 4 wks. 10 med frames in a deep (extra deep length lumber I had really) is 2 hives. A 5 frame deep nuc with med frames another and the last hive is a box from work that happened to be the right size but won't fit a frame either direction. So it will be a cut out if it works.
 

soarwitheagles

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CLS,

I hope your weather warms up and I also you can catch lots of swarms this season there in OK!

Here, a few weeks ago, the swarming season kicked in ferociously but I realize now I was not ready for them!

March 13th is when it started. But then we had a couple of weeks of cold and rain [which we desperately needed] and that put a damper on all swarming immediately.

Now we have had a week of clear blue skies and the temps are up to 80F. So swarms are flying now.

I just finished making and then hanging another 4 swarm traps this evening. I wish I had 20-30 traps ready because the bloom is so large in some areas I am convinced the flow will enable strong hives to double in a week or two...and without careful observation, those hives will swarm quickly.

I will pick up swarm number 4 tomorrow. It is located 40 miles south of me where a friend asked me to place some hives for pollination purposes and she also allowed me to install a swarm trap.

Keep us posted CLS!
 
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