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A lively Bee Day

May 18, 2014

It was, a very lively ‘bee day’ today. Probably the hottest day of the year so far here on the south coast of Ireland, hitting 19or 20 degrees Celsius.

I spent the morning cutting grass as I knew we had a ‘First Holy Communion’ party to attend this afternoon, come 2pm.

Come 1230pm, I was just finishing up the last of the grass cutting when I noticed some SERIOUS activity over by my beehive. (Quick re-cap from previous posts – my beehive is actually two-hives-in-one, split vertically).

Anyhow, at 12:30ish, it was perfectly clear that the main (bottom) colony was trying to swarm. Bees all over the front of the hive, in the air, everywhere. I’ve seen swarming bees on You Tube plenty of times, but never in the flesh. The noise! Impressive! And boy, are they docile!

But back to the swarm. I figured that either they were trying a prime swarm, in which case they weren’t going very far as the colony’s queen is clipped and marked….or else they had tried that previously and I was seeing a cast-swarm (i.e. virgin queen leaving). I waited.

Happily, after 45 minutes or so, the girls gave up and headed back inside the hive. A prime swarm, then. Seeing as I’d split this colony on the 28th April (see previous posts), I was a little taken aback….but hell, I’m only a beginner, right!?

At this stage I figured that I needed to do an AS (artificial swarm), to keep the ladies in check. So, I wandered off to the first communion party and came back at 4pm when the ladies had quietened down.

Time to roll out my newly painted Langstroth poly-hive (seeing as that’s all I have in the way of spare hives). Thank Crunchie I’ve been painting it over the past week, and it’s ready to go!

So, to cut to the chase…I sealed off the top half of my vertically split colony, and put it to one side. I then took the bottom half, the main colony, and moved it 5 feet away from its former position, replacing it (i.e. in its original position) with my new poly-hive. Next, I cracked open the bottom half of the split (my original colony). Phew. There were queen cells a-plenty. Well, 4 or 5 of them anyway.

Next I needed to find my original queen, so that I could transfer her to my new poly -hive. Bugger. She’s was not to be found! I went back and forth over the frames three times. 30 minutes on, panic was starting to set in! Ok I decided, time to hoic out all the brood frames. Woot! There she was, cowering at the very bottom of the hive, on top of the Varoa mesh. I used a queen-catcher to grab her and transfer her to the new hive, followed by a frame of brood. Next, I shook a further two frames of bees into the new hive, put the roof on and walked away.

I left two QCs in the original colony, put the queen excluder, followed by supers, back on, toped it off with the rest of the vertical split, and headed for a beer!

When I checked back – three hours later – all bees had gone into their respective homes.

A stressful, but enjoyable, day. The next few days should be interesting – will the queen and her cohorts stay in the poly-hive?!





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