Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ignoring the beekeeper "Rule of 2's" and resulting chaos

Since there are really no rules in beekeeping since it's all so different with each beekeeper, the title should really be ignoring the beekeeper "guideline of 2's".  The Chaos part can stay though.

The guideline of 2's simply states if you're going to move a beehive then you should move it less than 2 feet or more than 2 miles.  Anything in between might cause confusion for the bees (and chaos).  Today was moving day for the swarm trap in our backyard.  I planned to move it to the front yard on the stand I built but a little voice kept nagging me saying "NO" .... take them to the bee farm.  Two hives in your front yard might not be a good idea.  And listening to that little voice inside is something you need to pay attention to.

I started the fiasco early but the bees were heavy on the outside of the swarm trap.  After smoking them, I was able to close up the holes and move them to the front yard.  I quickly set up the new hive with fresh frames and the new base.  Of course the transfer from the nuc swarm trap to the new hive was a little chaotic and it got the bees zipping around pretty good.  It seemed to go ok so I put everything away and came inside to take a break.  About an hour later I visited the spot where the swarm trap originally was and saw a good size ball of bees hanging on the side of the wood that just held the swarm trap.  The bees were returning to their old home area ... lots of them.  Bees get a point of reference and use that to guide them back to the hive.  Going only a few feet or more than 2 miles makes them establish a new set of reference points.  At this stage it looked like I would have to move them out to the bee farm unless I wanted the new beehive to be empty in the morning and all the bees sitting out in the back of the house.

The problem with all this was I had to get the new hive, put it in my truck and then find something to hold the pile of bees bearding up in the backyard.  I found a big box to hold the new hive and lamely taped it up.  Very lamely.  The original swarm trap/nuc was used to capture the beard of bees in the back.  The nuc/Swarm trap was something they were familiar with so that made it easier.   Then they were loaded into the truck with all the new pieces of the new hive.  Put the smoker out, take off the bee suit and off I go.

The first thing I did when getting to the bee yard was to move all the hives over a tad to accommodate the new hive.  And of course this gets all the bees in those boxes a little defensive and rightfully so.  Next I grab the screened bottom board to lay on the hive rack and to my horror I noticed the wrong bottom board was grabbed.  The unfinished one  ie a screened bottom board without the screen.  And that will not do.  The smoker is already lit and the only choice I had was to drive home again with the bees in the back of the truck so I could get the correct bottom board.  Another problem with that was the box (that was lamely taped) came untaped and bees were everywhere inside the bed of my truck.  The truck bed topper fortunately kept most of them in there but they were all pretty much hanging on the open box.   The trip home better be uneventful or things will get interesting.  I close up the tailgate, return home and get the correct bottom board.  Then another trip back.  Poor bees.
Newest arrival (far right)

When I finally arrived back at the bee yard, the smoker was still puffing away which was nice.  Getting the box of bees and the nuc into the new hive was a little challenging but it all worked out in the end.  They were not happy though.  And it was a pretty good size swarm I have to say.  With all this jostling and moving around they could very well take off.  We'll see.

I'm worn out and taking the rest of the day off.

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