It's been a typical Spring here at Seedpod Farm. The rain has come in spurts, peppered with glorious days of sunshine. It does help you to live in the moment- when things change so readily. I was going to mow.....but will wash windows instead. (I'd rather mow).
I had mentioned in a recent post that we had brought four more hives onto the farm. One of the four was a nuc. In simplest terms- the nuc is five frames with an accepted queen that has already been busy laying the next generation, whereas a box of bees and a sequestered, mated queen is successful only if the newly released queen is accepted by her accompanying bees and she begins to properly lay eggs. You're rolling the dice....and it takes time to get up and running. A nuc allows you to have a head start having gotten past the "acceptance" piece. We've already added another box to our nuc affirming the fact that it was worth the extra pennies to get an established hive.
Just prior to getting stung- when I was still the chief mower of the hive area- I had shared with Adam that it appeared that one of last year's hives was "bearding". This is a sign that should spur action in a beekeeper. It could mean that the hive is just too hot (very unlikely in April) or that the bees are uncomfortably cramped. It is a sign of an impending swarm. Now if you're lucky enough to see them go- you may be able to catch them- but you're far better off keeping your lovelies happy.
As Adam and I talked it through, we thought it very unlikely that they would be ready to swarm. It's April after all! I must have misinterpreted the cluster of bees- being a beekeeper of little experience. As Adam did another hive check after reporting that the two older hives were not feeding on the syrup we were providing, he expected to see a mite problem or something to indicate a distinct lack of vigor in our hives. With the grumpy weather, he hadn't been able to really take a look inside the hives for some time. We were disheartened at the possibility of losing our hives and began to problem solve what we might do to save them.
However, monopolizing on a sunny day, he decided to really take a look inside the hives. What he found instead of dead or dying bees, was frames full of honey....and a hive tired of tripping over each other. Honey!....on the 1st of May! In order to make room for the bees- and head off a swarm, Adam removed 6 frames of Seedpod Farm's first crop of honey! All I could say was "Honey, Honey?" to which he replied "A swarm in May equals a ton of hay!".
Thank you lovely bees......we look forward to a great year! No swarms please....I'm planting plenty of flowers to keep you happy!