It’s August and it’s that time to begin harvest prep for our 2016 honey season. I like being outside this year more than many others, preparing my hives, as it’s a bright and cheery alternative to the political news of candidates running for President. Even with our ranch in New York, the home state of both party nominees, I choose to skip the excitement and head for the woods (or bees, to be more like it.)
Many who follow our blog know we have many different farming activities in our farm operation including livestock (sheep, dairy goats, alpaca, chickens, ducks, horses, worms and bees) as well as value added products (wool, fiber, timber milling, maple sugar bush start up, organic soaps, medicinal salves and specialty candles). But, my favorite of all our farm’s products are honey and dairy (goat milk) related.
Our 2016 bees are doing exceptionally well and so much so I have a swarm that I am going to show you how to capture, for all you bee keepers. Sooner or later, your bees will swarm. So, what do you do?
First, here is what a swarm looks like.
Swarming is the process by which a new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees. Swarming is the natural means of reproduction of honey bee colonies. So, it’s always good to catch them and introduce them into a hive. So, here’s how you do it. First, you want to make sure that all the hive components that you need are ready and where you need them. Below you can see the new hive is open to the left where the swarm will go. Along with that are new boxes/frames that will be added to the other hives that need more space for the bees to expand their honey flow.
First, you want to clear the branches around the swarm so you can easily drop the swarm into a box. I use one of my bee boxes I carry live nucs in.
Next, I clip the branch with all the active bees on it and set it in the nuc box.
At this point I place the branch and bees together into the nuc box and close the lid. I then carry the nuc box over to the hives to begin the next phase which is to install the bees in their new hive.
Here I have opened up the new hive body and dumped the bees into the hive. I am checking frame spacing to make sure the queen is inside and has the right spacing between frames. Then, I leave the nuc box open in front of the hives so other bees can follow the queen in to the new hive where she is located. They will find her.
After the whole mass of bees are placed inside the hive body, I leave the emptied nuc box open and outside the opening of the hive. This will allow straggler bees to find the queen by flying into the entrance of the hive. You can then close up that hive by placing the lid on it.
Next, I move on to check my other hives while I am there in my bee suit.
I begin to open up my other hives and check for health and overall productivity to determine when I will begin to harvest the honey for our 2016 season. This takes place in the next few weeks then again later in September/early October.
As you can see in the picture above, the comb is now being built up onto the escape board. This means that the bees are out of space and need more boxes and frames. Inside, the bees look really great and are producing tons and tons of honey.
At this juncture I add two more boxes with frames so that the bees have space to continue their work. Upon completion of that inspection with frames added and rock replaced to assure closure of the lid and no blow off due to wind, I move to the next hive. I do the same inspection of assessing bee health, honey flows, etc. Then, I add more boxes and frames.
Upon completion of the swarm installation into the hive colony and box/frame additions along with bee health inspection, my time is done for the day and I opt to quickly get out of my bee suit due to the HEAT! I leave the re-assembly of the protective electrically charged fencing to my husband to replace after I depart from inside the enclosure. This is of course critical as we live in the Adirondack Mountains and have bears. Vacationers don’t see them often but having had my hives attacked by bears I speak from experience. One can not ignore big claw marks through your honey supers and hive frames EVERYWHERE! Bears. Gotta love’m.
Bee keeping is a wonderful farming enterprise as it allows us to learn so much about nature, pollination, and a great deal about the powerful healing capabilities of honey. We sell our honey, wax, salves, and soaps all made from our HiBar Ranch honey created by nature in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. And, indeed it is the best honey in the country. Hands down.
God Bless! L. Davis