Disorderly Bees

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by ibeelearning, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. ibeelearning

    ibeelearning Member

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    I am on the road this weekend, earning money for more wooden ware, and possibly to even pay the mortgage and car insurance. Late afternoon, my wife calls and says, :eek:"Your bees are all over the back porch and the back yard. I have have never seen them like this (We are nearing our first full year as beeks, so...). I am afraid to go outside or let the little dogs out."

    I do explain that the bees do not seem to answer their phone or check email on Sundays. I am 800 miles away, and there is really not a lot I can do about this. After some talk, she looks through the binocs and confirms that the hive appears not to have been disturbed. She does observe that today there is a substantial dusting of green pollen all over everything.

    After a bit more talk, we convince ourselves that the bees were just having a pollen party, and that the timing and Hitchcockean appearance was unfortunate.

    Of course, driving the dark tonight, I am having visions of my currently sole hive swarming, bees all over the neighbor's yards and back porches, bees staging an Occupy Yard protest over living conditions, my having to move into the hive with the bees, honey bees challenging our resident carpender bees to massive dog fights, bees chasing animal control officers and carrying off small pets...

    When I checked the hive a week ago, there were a couple of empty frames in the brood box, plus a brand new one that replaced a frame feeder I used to feed/treat in the fall. The super had honey left, and several empty frames to work with.

    So, my question is: Is this normal behavior? Are my tenants unhappy? Should I do anything?
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    One day is excusable. Wait and see if it happens again tomorrow. Then we will know something, one way or the other.
     

  3. bwwertz

    bwwertz New Member

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    can't wait to follow up on this story! Keep up posted, ibeelearning!
     
  4. ibeelearning

    ibeelearning Member

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    Continuing Adventures in ibeelearning

    In my phone conversations with Home Office last night, it was observed that the bees had disappated from the porch, but had opened up a branch office the size of a pine cone in a nearby tree. I invoked all of my book/forum learning about swarming (about a 45 second presentation) and we then decided that, indeed, that might be what we had.

    A local beekeeper was gracious enough to come out with a trap and take a look this morning. By this time the "pine cone" had reduced by about 1/3. His assessment was that what we had was a "virgin queen swarm." Because of its size, it was not really sustainable, even opted not to even attempt to trap. "It's the strange weather," he said. "I've never seen any thing like this." He did look inside my hive-- which is still active-- and pronouced that all was well with the loyalists.

    At the same time, independantly, out on the road just south of Washington, DC, I had been thinking that even when I got home, I didn't have extra hives, traps, or anything else to deal with whatever was going on, or whatever was going to be left. So I Googled up help at http://www.virginiabeesupply.com/Home_Page.html to see if I could pick up some supplies on my way home. After hearing my story, the resident bee guru came to the same conclusion as our guy on the ground in Alabama: virgin swarm; don't rush home, it will all be over when you get there. Again, "It's the weather." He said he was seeing swarms 2 months ahead of when he might expect... including one that had moved into new supers on his sale yard just yesterday.

    So, I am heading home with a new 3 box hive, one of which will go onto the standing hive, the rest will await my new bees which should arrive the 1st week in April. Following the Virginia Beeman's advice-- which I have also heard here-- I also got a nuc and some lure to have around, just in case.

    So, not only have I gotten yet another chapter of learning, but a found a new great bee supply & advice place close on a route I fequently travel (Northern Virginia).

    Here endeth the lesson.
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    OH NO...

    as robert earl keen wrote...

    the road goes on forever and the party never ends...
     
  6. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    The lesson is only beginning.

    Adding a box to your hive that has made its mind up to swarm will more than likely not help matters. Put your swarm trap out and maybe you will catch them, or at least your beekeeping buddy will have something to put them in if you are on the road. that leaves you with two empty extra boxes, how many packages did you order? Better stop and pick up some more boxes and frames and foundation and.............

    You will never have enough bee junk laying around, trust me!

    I would do a split on the one hive that is casting out virgin queens if they have not already swarmed, it is easy to miss and sometimes things can be back to normal in less than 30 minutes and the swarm gone.
     
  7. ibeelearning

    ibeelearning Member

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    LOL... yeah, a full "pine cone" was still up there in the tree yesterday morning. They were taunting me, flipping little cigarette butts at me and saying stuff like, "old men can't jump."

    So I did bait the nuc , put in 3 beeswax frames and a full frame feeder, and set it on a step ladder below the cone with the top off. And, I might have taken a couple of hoop shots with a deflated basketball. The bees got pretty interested in the nuc, and I put the top on after the sun went down last night.

    This morning, the cone is the size of a cigar butt. I am going to go and do real work today before the little hoodlums tease me any more and I start getting the hose out and really making a fool of myself.

    So, you are correct. More to follow...

    I will add another oberservation: the hives I bought in Virgina came with beeswax foundation (my others came with plastic). I am past certain I badly butchered the installation, but the bees love it. A several dozen came out of nowhere and hung around the truck, sweetly helping me build their new homes. As a rookie, I find it so hard to work with, that I'll still probably use a lot of plastic, but I wiil try to mix them.
     
  8. bwwertz

    bwwertz New Member

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    Interested to know how the plastic frames fare for you. My Dad wanted to try plastic frames in his hive and the girls won't touch it with a ten foot pole. They have drawn everything around it - even some capped - but will not even begin to draw out plastic. No idea why. The deep plastic brood frame they drew out over a year ago.
     
  9. ibeelearning

    ibeelearning Member

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    Update: The mini swarm-- as predicted-- could not sustain itself. When I looked in the nuc this week, what I had was a few dead bees. But it was fun while it lasted.

    bwwertz: My beginner's hive last year came with wooden frames and plastic foundations. So, like everything else here, my decision to use plastic was based on ignorance rather than strategy. The bee pack seemed to draw the brood frame well enough, but my unfortunate and misinformed use of a queen excluder slowed them down in drawing the super. Once I posted here and learned not to use the QE, they drew the super out as well and stored well there for the winter.

    But after a year, how would I know normal...

    If they accepted a plastic foundation last year, it seems like they would accept a complete plastic frame... which I think is were I want to end up.

    But then last year, I really didn't give them a choice... and that may be the secret.

    More to follow.
     
  10. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    If a good flow is on, bees will draw plastic foundation with little problem. I think tecumseh even went so far as to muse that they would probably draw comb on a piece of cardboard during a good flow, something that would be an interesting experiment.
    They might prefer wax foundation over plastic but ....."I really didn't give them a choice...and that may be the secret." :wink: