Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bees, Bees, and more Bees

I have learned a lot about bees in the last year.  I also know that I have a lot more to learn.  When I first brought my bees home, my hives were small.  They were less intimidating.  They were easier to manage.  They were fun.  It didn't take me long to realize why they start you on small hives.  By last fall, my hives were so big, and literally there were thousands of bees in them.  This would have made me run screaming in the beginning.  Come to think of it, it has made me run screaming.  Usually while being stung, but that is another story.

Due to the mild winter we had, my hives came through pretty strong.  If I thought there were a lot of bees before, I had no idea what they could do.  There were boxes piled up on one another, and there were tons of bees in them.  It had become more than a little difficult to work these hives because of their size.  I knew going into winter that I wanted to split them in spring, going from two to four.  Knowing what I know now, I probably could have split each one into three hives, going from two to six.

It is a lot to explain, but the long and short of it, to split a hive means that you take some frames of open brood, capped brood, and honey and you put them in a separate box.  It is best to move these new boxes a distance from the original hive to prevent all the bees from going back to their original hive.  Once they are moved, you can add a new queen or you can let them raise their own queen.  The opinions are split on which way to go as far as the queen issue.  You will experience a lag in time if you allow them to raise a queen on their own, so depending on the time of year, it could play a part in honey production.

I opted to order new queens this year, and it was quite a chore finding them.  Not to mention deciding on what to get.  I was a little late getting my order in and most queen breeders were already getting back logged.  Luckily, this was the week for my shipment.  To add to the stress and pressure of doing something that I have never actually done before, we were due to have less than friendly weather.  This added a new dimension of stress to the project because I kept going back and forth on how I was going to actually do this.

My queens were due to ship overnight on Monday.  As of Monday morning, I was still unclear on what to do.  Finally, I decided to go ahead and start the process while the new girls were in transit.  I was a little uneasy about this, but with the storms moving in, I thought it would be best.  I just had to hope that Brown would take care of me and actually do what I needed them to do.  I went out that afternoon, and actually started splitting the frames up.  Once this was done, I put the boxes back on the original hive.  It is best to move bees in the dark, closing their entrance with a piece of screen.  I had to go back out there after dark and start the process of actually moving them.  This is were it got a little more than crazy.

I had it in mind to do an even split.

I did not consider the size of these hives.

I realized the size when it came time to move them.

I was all alone.

In the dark.

Time to "man it", and just do it.

Getting them to the truck was really hard.

Getting them into the truck was even harder.

You should really consider the means of holding hives together prior to moving them.

If you choose wrong, they may come apart when you pick them up.

Yes, that did happen.

More than once.


Driving them to their new location...easy.

Getting them out of the truck...not so bad.

Setting them down - ridiculously hard!

Falling into bed after a long stressful day - priceless.

This was only Monday.  

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