Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mini Me

‘A swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; but a swarm in July is not worth a fly’.

Between rain storms the other day, Stella and I picked up the tiniest swarm. A neighbor had called - they were in his pole beans. He knew bees were in crisis and didn't want to hurt them, but also didn't want them in his garden. Completely understandable and we were glad he called.

Between the bad time of year, as small as they were and the awful weather they'd already been exposed to, we knew they weren't really worth the trouble. With another bad storm getting ready to roll through though we didn't think they had much chance of getting out of there alive without some help. Our bees have been good to us and we were happy to be able to "pay it forward".

They seemed pretty happy to find a nice dry box. I can't believe there are more than 350 bees in here and this post is mostly to document how small they were just in case they do make it. And you never know. Stella's (not quite as) small July swarm last year has produced the most honey of all our hives this year.

Because they are too small to move into a regular 10 frame deep hive body, we modified another nuc box like the one in the pictures above - 5 frames. I cut the bottom 1/2" off of the front board to accommodate a front sugar syrup feeder. I then cut a large hole in the bottom and stapled screen wire over it to simulate a screened bottom board. We built a miniature inner cover with some screen wire across that hole as well. Ventilation is our number one concern and we like to prop the top cover up with a stick year round.

Normally the hole in the inner cover is open so the bees can go in and out. With so few bees in this hive though, they are going to have trouble protecting their territory and our thinking is to give robbers fewer spots to break in until they get better established. I also stuffed some hay in part of the front opening to give them less area to defend there as well.

We'll see.


DayPhoto said...

Great post! Although I love bees I have never learned how to be a bee keeper. Therefore, I really enjoy following along with you and Stella.


Alice said...

Great stewardship of bees, you and Stella! The little factoid I learned about wax melting at 96 deg. may explain the demise of a hive with the sustained heat we have had this summer. I also did not realize that bees use water to cool their hive. What an amazing industrious, innovative insect they are!!

Christine said...

That is so cool. You just might make me fond of the buggers yet.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Apparently heat doesn't really bother them. They keep the hive a consistent temp by using water and wings. They definitely are neat.

Eleanor P said...

Blessed be the keepers of the peaceable kingdom--you so qualify!!!!
Every creature has its place in the master plan and it's up to us to do our part.

Ed said...

Very cool, so they just up and moved to the box without any coaxing?

flowerweaver said...

Nice little swarm. Let's hope they make it and become your big honey producers! said...

Your swarm/bee posts are just fascinating. This is something I've never known about before, love learning more! :)


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