Well kind of. I guess if you buy the whole karma bit, maybe I am just getting some back. Goodness know s I have certainly had my share of hives that swarmed off into oblivion….
I got home early enough last night to crack open the hive that had died out this spring. Shortly after I got the “Glowing Bees” post up, we had an unseasonably cold night, and I think the little gals were unprepared. I left the hive in the orchard at first because I am lazy, but then was able to rationalize it as a “bait hive .” Basically it’s like a furnished home for a passing swarm. Way back when we moved onto the farm , I had moved a bunch of empty bee equipment on site in an early trip . A few weeks later, when we were bringing more of our stuff up, Joscelyn said it looked like we had company and, sure enough, a swarm had moved into one of the empty hives in the back yard. They were a little small, and we are in kind of a nectar black hole, so they didn’t last long.
History has repeated itself and once again, when mowing the orchard the other week, I could see more than just a few bees coming and going in the “bait hive .” Great news since packages are about $80, and April was a bit busy for us…. So I dug into the hive yesterday expecting to see about a pound of bees and a new little baby queen with about half a frame of eggs…. Whao ! Glad I fired up the smoker! There was the better side of 8 pounds of bees, two deep hive bodies full! (A hive body is the box the bees live in) , with more coming & going all the time. There is a queen (she looked young but was marked with white, which would be 2007, but more on that in a minute) and 8 frames of eggs… The bees are light in color so they are probably Italian, and were so easy to work (the Carolinian & Buckfast last year were a bit edgy & smoke only helped a little).
So why do I feel guilty? Swarms are a natural part of the reproductive cycle of the hive, it’s how the “grow”. Normally a queen will fly off with about 70% of the workers and leave the others to raise a new queen in the old hive. This is problematic for a bee keeper, as we pay $$ for known genetics, of the queen we purchase. So because this little bug has a dab of white paint on her back, someone possibly shelled out good hard $$ for her. Of course when I lose a swarm, the queen that the left behind bees raise I mark with paint so I can find her. What color do I have to mark them with? White, Red and Green, typically I use a color that’s three or four years old, so as not to confuse myself with the newer queens I have purchased… So really I have no way of knowing how old this gal is. In fact, she could have been spending the last few years jumping from hollow tree to hollow tree, leaving behind little hivelets everywhere!
I plan on moving them down to Duvall, to have them in an area where there is more available honey (Locust & Blackberry) sometime next week. I’ll let you all know how that goes!