Saturday, April 30, 2005

Bees survived the weird winter

My 16 hives got through the winter with only 3 dead-outs. The survivors were split between April 1st and 11th into about 28. One was strong enough to split into 4. I did shook swarms with the old queen and let the splits raise their own second generation queens. Most of those queens are laying now. About 4 are either out mating, or haven't started laying yet: No eggs, but ragged queen cells in the hives. I lost two weak survivors that I hadn't split to a short cold spell. One was from a fall swarm that had too few bees, and hadn't built up this spring, the other kept going queenless through the mild winter and into the spring, having had several queen cells and brood added. Just bad luck? Lots of honey and pollen in both.
I went into all of them Thurs, 4/27/05, and checked queens and brood. It's prime swarm season and I need to establish new hives or have them swarm. One may already have swarmed, but I can't be sure. It superseded at least. Still strong, though. My Bee Buddy came over to look at them and we stampeded into them. No smoker lit, though I usually don't use it I keep it handy for the occasionally hot hive. He's a commercial guy and I like to pull up a chair and really look, going slowly. So he broke open the first hive with a loud "Craaack!" and started into them. They rose in a cloud, looking for the bear. My veil wasn't on tightly, due to my hurried dressing.... Soooo classic case of Bees in the Bonnet! Lots of bees. Good thing I'm acclimated to stings. I figure that I got about 25-30 on my face, neck and especially in my hair!
I walked off from the hive, after muttering to BeeBud and got far enough away to jerk off my bee bonnet trapping the stinging bee in it. He left not long after, deciding that I have really bad tempered bees. I went into the rest of the 28 hives with almost no stings, in my usual slow, plodding way, all the way down to the bottom board.
New Purvis mite resistant queens arrive this next week. They will be shipped UPS overnight on the 3rd, Tuesday. I have to run up to DC to sign papers for my brother's company's sale, so I'll dash back and install the queens asap after. Rain is predicted off and on into next week. I'll make 5 frame nucs out of the strong bees and temporarily enlarge the operation until I rejoin the nucs to 10 frame hive bodies.

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