Busy As Bees

It’s been ten mostly cloudy, unseasonably cool days since we set up our beehive. Yesderday was bright and sunny so we thought we’d add the rest of the frames into the beehive — we were rushing to get the hive together before the swarming bees found another hive, so when we set it up we only had 4 out of 10 frames ready. [Note: see www.beeeducation.com for a good anatomy of a beehive.] Well, to our surprise and chagrin, the bees had already filled the empty cavity with honeycomb! We did manage to get a queen excluder and a super on the hive with its 10 foundations.

Bees

Last spring we discovered that we had honeybees living in our bedroom wall. They were getting in via a gap where the siding meets the chimney. Now, we saw this as a sign, since Kirsten has been talking about getting bees for several years now. Last spring the colony swarmed — this is when the colony splits into two, the queen leaving her daughter behind and taking half the workers off to a new nest. Seeing this inspired us to mail-order a beehive kit over the winter. [Continued next picture …]

Bees [Continued]

Well, two days ago we noticed around noon that the bees were again swarming. So Eric hurredly assembled one hive body while Kirsten read up on how to get the swarm into the hive. Here you can see that the bees choose a nearby spruce tree to swarm in while looking for a new nesting place. For a fascinating look at the complex communication system that bees use to choose a new nest, see this recent article in Medical News Today). [Continued next picture …]

Bees [Continued]

The technique that we used was to set the hive body on the ground next to the tree, then cut the branch with the swarm and give it a good shake to dump the bees into the hive. (Kirsten has the proper hood and some other equipment from when she had bees before.) It appears to have worked as the bees are quite active in their new home. Now we just have to complete the other parts of the hive and decide exactly where we want to locate it. We may get some honey this fall, but most likely we will need to wait until next year. Mmmm … honey!