Saturday, August 12, 2017
Reversal of Fortune
These two beehives are the smallest in the beeyard this year. They each have an interesting story.
The pink hive is a split from a larger hive [the blue and orange one in the back] that was bearding heavily and just decided to start building comb under the hive boxes. Bearding is when you get a collection of bees hanging from the front entrance or sides during hot, humid days. It's normal.
Bearding all night long, and then for days, and then weeks and building comb UNDER the boxes is not normal. It meant a lot of pissy bees outside and a lot of extra pings for the beekeeper this season.
Eric and I decided enough was enough and we spent a miserable couple of hours removing the bees and their comb from under that hive and putting them in their own box to make themselves a new queen and new colony. They did not come gently.
Every week for 4 weeks, I put a new comb of brood and eggs from another colony in there for them to make a new queen from. They finally did. And then that blasted queen refused to mate. I checked on them week after week and finally 2 weeks ago decided to just write them off. I couldn't find the new queen and was tired of stealing brood for them.
The green hive is a swarm we caught this year from our own hives. It was small. We put them in the box and they started doing what they do. The queen was doing great, laying fine, drawing comb, etc. Only thing was - they weren't storing any honey. I figured they'd get the hang of it since they were increasing in size. We are still in a flow. There's time.
And then I walked out last week in time to see another swarm 30 feet up in a tree, very much out of reach. Eric and I threw together a swarm trap and waiting. The next day they came down to the trap but wouldn't go in. They flew off again. Then they flew back to it again. I'd had enough watching and just put them in there.
They didn't act happy. So I put in a frame of brood from another hive to anchor them until they got happy and then I noticed that that little green hive was awfully quiet. Sure enough, this new swarm was that old swarm, which had absconded leaving three perfectly good frames of brood.
This is not good. So I fed them a lot of sugar syrup and waited to see what they'd do.
Reversal of fortune. I checked both hives today and wouldn't you know they've done a complete reversal.
The pink hive has a laying queen! She's fat and beautiful and doing a great job. Multiple frames of brood. They're storing plenty of honey and pollen. This queen came from my favorite hive. I'm hoping to see her build up and make it through the winter.
The green hive is languishing. The queen is there, but laying multiple eggs in a cell, which the bees will take care of, but it's weird. I put their old comb back in the hive so the could focus on laying and raising brood instead of building comb. I'm still feeding them a lot of syrup. I don't expect them to make it to fall, much less through the winter.
It's funny how things change. In spite of my predictions, the bees will do what they will do. They don't read the books or pay attention to the experts, or me. They'll likely surprise me.