April 12, 2014 at 1:23 pm #8317
I picked up a gigantor swarm at the last Honeylove meeting. My first swarm of the year left after a few days.
This swarm was large. It filled a whole box and took almost a minute to spill into the hive.
They have been with me about 3 weeks now, and I am impressed. I opened the hive today to take a more dedicated look. I have opened the hive twice, and I am doing all I can to bee hands off. I put them in two hive boxes with foundationless frames. So they had their work cut out for them.
Here is an interesting tidbit. I picked up the swarm the same day that Bill spoke to us at Honey Love. If some of you remember, he suggested using at least a couple of frames with foundation when putting a swarm into a new hive without comb. I took his advice and put about 5 foundation frames in the hive. I kept them out of the center frames, but I did put three in the upper hive box and two in the lower.
I opened the hive last weekend and did not move too much around. The bees were in a major comb construction mode, and it just felt wrong to break up the work. They were literally hanging down on about 3-4 of the center frames on that inspection.
Today I opened the hive again and promised myself I would poke around a little more. Here is what I saw. I was surprised what they did in just three weeks:
They had built out comb on both sides of three frames already. They were still building on the outer frames. THEY DID NOT TOUCH ANY OF THE FOUNDATION FRAMES-yet. Only one frame had some honey, but they did have about a 3 x 4 inch square of comb with uncapped honey. I have not done the hard work of trying to locate the queen yet. And I did not see any brood. But I was still trying to be as hands off as possible. Next week, I will really pull all the frames and have a very good look.
For the experienced–I wanted to share a move I did. They were in two hive boxes, but they were only working in the top box. the lower hive box had nothing in it. I took the lower hive box out and left just the one hive box. I am thinking I will wait another week or two–until the rest of this hive box is built out. They I will put the hive box back on top. Does that sound like the right move?
That is all the buzz from my hidden hive location.
Thanks all for your mentoring and advice,
EApril 13, 2014 at 9:11 am #8320
Eric—I would not be so “hands off” First, are they in deep boxes or mediums? The mediums will fill faster, of course.
They have been there 3 weeks so they could be doing some mischief with all the extra room you have there. Bees will build comb FROM THE HIGHEST POINT in the cavity. I would pull off the extra boxes until they get a good brood nest, with straight combs, going in the bottom box. Since you took off the other box, you inadvertently did this anyway. Just keep in mind the way bees draw comb—from the highest point. Do this work just before sundown so that the bees are eager to do what they do at night anyway—stay in the hive.
You do not need to “do the hard work of finding the queen” You need to get familiar with the evidence that she is there—-finding the eggs and open brood is that evidence that all is establishing well. You should be always looking for ALL stages of brood—eggs, open larva, and capped brood. These brood will be in the center sections of the brood nest.
I think the bees become familiar with their keeper, and working with them encourages them to recognize you as NOT the enemyApril 13, 2014 at 3:29 pm #8324
You are a great mentor Susan. Sadly, it was your swarm that left my hive after a week. I live in the valley and just figured those Manhattan Beach bees did not like the valley.
Thanks for your advice. They are in mediums. As noted I took off the bottom box since it was still empty.
At this rate, I expect to be putting it back on top within the next week or so. And I will take a more involved look for brood on my next inspection.
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