Thursday, March 19, 2015

New Hive outside our living room window

With this last swarm, there came a bit of work.  There needed to build some more hive equipment to accommodate these new arrivals.  They were going to be put on the existing platform at the Bee Farm but instead I decided to keep them at home because they're so much fun to watch.  To do it right the same type of ant proof hive stand needed to be constructed and cement into the ground.  It was built to accommodate  two hives eventually.  All this took longer than I expected but it was done right and looks nice in our courtyard.  The stand and hive base/deep were painted turquoise and the top is lavender.  While I was in cutting, sanding and painting mode the bee vacuum was finished correctly.  The bee vacuum was slapped together in 3 hours and looked a little rough.  Now it looks professional and ready to gather swarms.
New screened bottom board

One of the rules of beekeeping (well not a rule but more of a guideline) is to move your hives less than 2 feet or 2 miles or more.  Anything in between may confuse the bees and it's said you risk them leaving.  Since this swarm was moving about 15 feet we'll have to just cross our fingers and hope they love their new digs (and nobody told them about those guidelines).

While the sun was coming up the anti-ant grease traps and grease covers were installed on the hive stand.  Then it was time to light the smoker and suit up.  The new hive and stand were readied with all the new frames needed.  As I was climbing the ladder with the smoker, it looked like the hive was starting to wake up (actually they never sleep and are just not as active at night).  After a couple puffs with the smoker, I cradled the swarm trap under my arm and descended.  The bees were placed on the hive stand next to their new hive.  The hive tool was needed since the top of the swarm trap was stuck pretty tight (probably with propolis from the bees).  When the top was finally pried opened the sight of a zillion bees was marvelous.  That little swarm trap was absolutely packed with bees.  First thing I did was transfer the completely packed frames.  Then two large pieces of comb were removed from the lid and then the remaining bees on the top were dropped into the new hive. Finally the swarm trap box was shaken upside down and bees were poured into their new home.  Bees everywhere so the top to the hive was installed on right away.
Honeycomb that was on the lid

Next the swarm trap was bagged up so they didn't get tempted to return to their old home (bees are sentimental like that).  The tricky part is not bagging it until all bees are off it so none get suffocated in the bag.  There was plenty of activity and many bees zipping around everywhere.   Complete Bee Chaos.

After removing the bee suit and extinguishing the smoker I noticed the piece of wood in the tree that held the swarm trap had quite a few bees bearding up on it.  A pretty good size clump.  So the bee suit was put on again and the piece of  support piece of wood was removed from the tree (complete with a large clump of bees) and it was gently placed under the new hive.
New home for the bees just outside of our living room window

About an hour later the bees that were bearding on the tree (around where their old home was) seemed to be finding their way to the new hive.  There is still a good amount of bees flying around that area but the good news is there's more bees zipping in and out of their new home so the move looks pretty positive so far.  Hopefully they'll soon stop buzzing around and start foraging.

The size of this swarm is amazing.  The amount of bees around our home is strong.  Providing a home for this swarm in our yard will be beneficial for the bees as well as for us. 

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