7.19.2017

you never can tell with bees


a surprise early spring honey harvest



hive at the farm- currently this hive has 3 more supers on it (and it has swarmed once itself!),
and it has been joined by a second hive

view from the hives of the farm cabin with the lake beyond


the current state of our little backyard apiary

one of the swarms way up high

It would be a rather sizable understatement to say that it has been an interesting spring and summer when it comes to our bees.

As of this writing, from our two over-wintered hives we have had nine (NINE!) swarms so far this spring.  And a few of those are swarms from the first round of swarms.  I'm only aware of us ever having had one other swarm in our 5+ years of beekeeping.  We've certainly preemptively split hives early in the spring, and there have been years where by early June we've had 5 supers on a hive, but all of this swarming?  Crazy town.  Of the nine, we successfully caught and held onto three of the swarms.  One we put in a top bar hive here with our other two hives, and the other two are out at the farm where I work. We did catch two others but they didn't stick around.  One of those just wasn't covered in time and they flew off, and the other was a bit of an ordeal.  We saw them land way up a white pine in a neighbor's yard and Mike just couldn't bear to watch them fly off so he donned a full bee suit and got out his climbing gear and climbed up (70 feet up? 80? 100?) with a cardboard box (and again, a FULL bee suit/veil along with his climbing gear) and brushed as much of the cluster as he could get into the box but sadly we think he missed the queen and so....... no dice.

The others just weren't really reachable (or, once we got to a certain point, we had simply run out of boxes and didn't want to go back to the bee supply shop again for more).  One landed somewhere way high up and then left, and the other, pictured above, was 70 or 80' up on the outer branches of an oak, over the power lines.  Another stayed high up in a walnut tree over our backyard for three days (!) before deciding to finally take flight for better digs minutes before friends came to attempt to collect them.  And one of the hives out at the farm has also already swarmed.

We check on the state of things in the hives, we add space as needed- as far as our human eyes can see they've got plenty of room to grow but, well, I suppose these particular bees just have a serious drive to spread their gene pool and get out and explore.  Or something.

That wise old Pooh Bear was right, you just never can tell with bees.





10 comments:

  1. What an interesting, beautiful post. Your pictures and posts are just so fun to read. I enjoyed your last garden/food one, too. And, I always enjoy a peek into your kitchen, while trying to figure out how it doesn't turn into a disaster area (like mine does) while in the process:) Life is grand.
    Again, thanks.

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    1. thanks, Terri~

      and do know that there are plenty of times that my kitchen is a disaster. I suppose I just don't usually photograph it as such ;)

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  2. Wow, it looks so good, best thing you are sure that you are having pure honey. Interesting post, thank you for sharing it and keep posting more about it

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    1. thanks :) yes that honey is delicious!

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  3. You are right about that! You can never tell with bees. We had an old hive abscond yesterday and their vacant box set off robbing from a feral hive! Crazy town here too. Have you ever considered putting but swarm bait boxes? We put two out at the farm and caught one hive and they are the best best bees! They are gentle and always hardworking! They forage in the rain! Nothing stops them!

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    1. I haven't used any kind of commercially available 'bait box', but we have attempted to make our own of sorts by spraying a hive body with lemongrass, etc. and putting it near to the swarms. I'll have to check that out! sounds like you got a great hive there!

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  4. This post was so beautiful and omgg I loved the pictures! We used to get natural honey when I was young but not anymore. I guess you never really know with bees.

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  5. wow! what an adventure! i love the way you documented it all. also, read "the girl you left behind" and loved it. have you read "the moon is down" by john steinbeck? i am pretty certain you would enjoy it. he wrote it as a propaganda piece during world war 2. it takes place in a little occupied town with similarities to "the girl you left behind". the book i read had a bit of history in the beginning about his intentions with the book and how it was smuggled all over europe... fascinating history!!

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    1. thanks, Jenny :)

      So glad you enjoyed that book! I just got the Steinbeck you recommended from the library and plan to start it after I finish my current book. The Nightingale was really good, too.

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thanks for taking the time to read and comment~