Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Beeing in the Dark

I hived a small swarm last night in the dark. The glow from Farmville, 5 miles away helped. I spotted them at twilight on my way home from putting up a neighbor's chickens. They were just a dark blotch on a white dogwood and looked like a piece of trash that'd blown in. By the time I'd gathered my stuff and got back it was full dark. I found out a few things: Bees don't like to fly in the dark, but they will if pushed. When the branch bends down, the bees crawl up. Making sure you have the queen in the box is harder in the dark. Flashlights make the bees fly more, but do help. A branch full of bees is heavy, and a controlled fall may be all you can manage.
They eventually got into the deep I'd brought. I put them under the shed, closed them up with a feeder and went to bed. This morning I found most of them clustered on the front of the box. They'd gotten out, but couldn't get back in. I put them all in again and left the box open. They've stayed, and have half emptied the feeder.
I figured I'd better find the mother hive. I'd already set today as the bee working day, so I loaded up, and went looking. I found one in the driveway apiary that had about 3-4 hatched queen cells and 3+ unhatched. I opened a ripe-looking one and the biggest, sleekest, black queen walked out that I've ever seen. As big as a fully mated queen. I put that frame in a 5 frame deep nuc that I had almost full of honey, pollen and brood and will hope for the best. I hope the new queen of that hive looks as good as her sister. If the swarm came from there then it should have a marked queen.
I was surprised at the strength of a couple hives. One had 6+ medium frames and 4+ full deep frames of brood. In a couple weeks that hive will swarm. I gave them a super to draw out and expand into.

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