Thursday, April 25, 2019

Drama in the hive- Our first swarm!

Kenan had checked the bees yesterday and noticed some swarm cells in a couple of the nucs. They had just been split a couple weeks ago, but their population was exploding and they were crowded.
He had just gone up there to split the nucs again when he noticed the bees in one of the nuc boxes was beginning to swarm.  

 There was a HUGE cloud of bees in the air in front of the hive and the buzzing sound was deafening.  Thankfully they didn't go far, they landed on the fence post a few feet away.

This cluster of bees is protecting their queen who is somewhere in the middle of all this. i didn't get a lot of pictures because Kenan was yelling at me to help. lol. i used a bee brush to brush them into an empty nuc box while Kenan held it under them. 

We brushed in as many bees as we could. Once i spotted the queen inside the box we put the lid on it.  The other bees will follow the scent of the queen and make their way into the nuc box which is now there new home until we can move them into a larger hive. Exciting stuff!

The bees are actually quite docile when they are in a swarm state. We could literally use our hands and scoop them into the box. 

We had just gotten the first swarm caught and in a new nuc box, so i came back to the house and took off my bee gear.  Kenan went back up to split the other nuc that needed splitting.

He immediately came running back to the house and said 'you're not going to believe this, but i think the other nuc is swarming!' So i got my bee gear back on and headed back outside. The second swarm made it into a tree on the edge of the goat field. We had to bend the branch down and cut it, and then shake/brush all the bees into the new nuc box.

 i held the branch while kenan cut it about 99% of the way through and then we switched places so he could support the branch while i finished the cut.

 We held the branch over the box and gave it a good shake, then brushed the remaining bees into the new box.  i again, spotted the queen in the box, so we put the lid on and are hoping the remaining bees make it into the box with her.  Phheeewww! That was some serious excitement!  i've never seen anything quite like it, and to be in the middle of all those bees was a bit nerve racking. We were already planning to split the hives, so they just did the work for us. We are currently at 4 hives and 10 nucs. We've ordered more hive boxes and will get them prepped and ready.

The term “nuc” is short for nucleus colony. A nucleus colony is just a very small colony of bees. It's not intended for honey production like the full size hives, it's more for bee production in case your hive fails. It's good to keep a couple nucs around so that If one of your hives goes queenless, you have another queen ready to go. If you wait for your colony to re-queen itself, the population will drop such that you won’t get any surplus honey for that year. You can also use the bees in a nuc to boost populations of a weak hive. Which we may have to do with one of our hives that is having issues. We will eventually be moving some of these nucs into Hive boxes to try and establish a few more full size hives.

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