Tuesday, October 7, 2014

fall chores in the bee yard

On Sunday, I discovered a tiny swarm had landed in my back yard, hanging on to the bottom of my top bar hive. 

Several times during the day the back yard had been filled with bees- flying every which way.  This is unusual for my bees.  Their "flight school" lasts a short period of time and is centered around the hive entrance, but these seemed be be like bee storms.  I suspected I might have a swarm, but I wasn't at home to witness either one, so I when I got home, I walked around the yard to check out what had happened and spotted this cluster immediately.

As I knew a cold front was expected to come roaring in- with temps in the 40s and thunderstorms, I knew I needed to act quickly, because the bees would be dead in the morning.  I took my bee brush, flicked them into a plastic shoe box, and put them in the back of my top bar hive.  In the morning, they looked like this- all tucked into a corner, just hanging out:

After I talked to my bee mentor, we figured out that this late swarm didn't seem to have a queen, and since both of my hives were full of brood and eggs, they didn't come from either of my colonies, so he recommended that I spray both the small colony in my tbh and the swarm with lemongrass-scented sugar water, remove the divider, and let them merge.  So I did.

When I was checking my langstroth hive, I spotted the queen (can you see her below? She is in the bottom center of a cluster and has a naturally blackish, hairless thorax, where the other bees are fuzzy and golden) laying eggs, so I knew the swarm hadn't come from that hive.  The honey stores for both my hives are very low, so I made some heavy sugar syrup, to start feeding them.

 This morning I took the top super off of the langstroth (because there was no brood, honey, or anything but bees guarding small hive beetles in "jail" in this super), pitched the lighter syrup, and refilled it to begin feeding them heavily as we head into cooler weather.  I'll continue to keep the feeders in both hives filled with 2:1 sugar:water syrup over the winter.  Summer syrup ratio is 1:1, so this will help build up their stores. 

And here's my little langstroth hive, ready to snuggle in for the winter. It's been an interesting bee season this year.  I've had a lot of swarming and learned so much.  My mentor has moved away and is now a phone mentor rather than a physically-show-me-mentor, but I've learned a lot by working on my own.

I'm making a list of what I'll need for next bee season: a swarm catcher, since I had no less than four swarms in my back yard this year, another bee suit (or at least a jacket and gloves) for visitors and helpers.  I hope that if you're interested in bees, my bee adventures have fueled your desire to keep bees!


  1. Memang benar bahwa lebah suka membuat sarang dimana-mana, apakah di halaman rumah ataupun di atapnya.
    Kebetulan saya bekerja sebagai arsitek di salah satu biro ARSITEK di Bandung dan di kantor kami tersebut bersarang lebah di bagian atas pintu kantor dekat ventilasi.
    Beberapa tamu sempat disengatnya dan akhirnya lebah tersebut terpaksa diusir dengan menggunakan asap dari koran yang dibakar di bawahnya.

    Nice article dan ditunggu arstike berikutnya.

    Eva Maryam

  2. This question is not related to this post but you used to have a video on your Resources page. Can you tell me how to find that again?