May 31, 2013

Update on the Warre Hive: One Becomes Four


Just as flowering maples signal the beginning of the Spring nectar flows, drones signal the beginning of swarming season. This is video from late April or early May, and the season will continue into July.

The hive has swarmed three four times now. The prime swarm was on May 16. John, my hivesitter, said it was a nice healthy size, yet there were still bees left in my hive. He could see them through the window in the bottom box, which they still had not drawn comb into. The swarm of course clustered in one of his tallest trees, yet he managed to capture them and hive them in another Warré hive. In two short weeks, they've just about built out their first box. Excellent!

A second swarm issued on May 29. Just as with the first swarm, they issued after John had replenished their syrup. "There must be a strong nectar flow, gang, let's swarm again!" The parent colony hasn't really recuperated from the first swarm though, and this one was smaller. John said they seemed unsure of their new Warré hive, so the following day I gave him the TBH hive tool, so he could take a comb from the prime swarm colony to anchor them. On my way over, he called and I thought for sure we'd lost them. "Did they just fly off?" I asked. Nope! My hive had just swarmed a third time.

The May 30 swarm was the size of "two softballs." I was maybe 5 minutes away but by the time I got to his house, he'd captured the swarm and brought the mail into the house. That's how easy the capture was. Anyway, we discussed the viability of a dink swarm and settled on a newspaper combine of swarms 2 and 3. I'm hoping that swarm 2 has a mated and laying queen, and assuming that swarm 3 has a virgin. We'll see what happens.



So, the recap:
May 16: prime swarm hived in a Warré and building well. Queen laying right to the edges.
May 29: second swarm, hived in a Warré.
May 30: third swarm; newspaper-combined with swarm 2. Acting as one colony w/in 3 days.
June 2: another cast swarm, hived in a Langstroth nuc.

How many can the Warré throw before it kills itself? The parent colony seems to be honey-bound and we need to get it building into a second box. Stay tuned to find out whether we pyramid or checkerboard.

1 comments:

Carolyn ♥ said...

I'm fascinated by the life of bees... thank you for another opportunity to learn about them. What fun you must be having.

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