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Friday, August 26, 2016

Stella's Big Birthday Surprise

"A swarm in May is worth a load of hay.  A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon.  A swarm in July, let it fly by!"  A swarm in late August?  Oh you know it...  Too Busy Bees is back in business.

It's very unusual for bees to swarm this late in the year.  It's probably a bad sign about the upcoming season(s).  Or maybe the bees are just as confused by this year's weather as we are.  Or...maybe they heard Stella needed a strong hive to combine with her weak hive (a spring swarm we picked up that has struggled all summer) and flew in to surprise her for her birthday. 


In reality, a swarm this late in the year has very, very little chance of making it through the winter. They just don't have time to get adequately prepared.  If anyone can get a late swarm through though, it's Stella.  The bees may have known that (as they probably originally swarmed out of one of her hives from a couple years ago) and knew what they needed to do.  



We backed The Unit under the branch.  I stood in the back and brushed the bees down into our swarm box.  Set the box on the roof (that Unit is darn handy!)...


...and before too long, they had all flown into the box.  You know you have the queen (the most important bee) when they all follow her into the box.  Remember that for later.


Taped up and ready to head for the bee yard.


This is usually the easiest part of the program.  See the empty spot in the middle of the hive box?  All you have to do is take the tape off, turn the box over, dump the bees into the open spot, carefully slide in the missing frames, put the cover on and you are done.  

I missed the hole (the bees were all clustered on one side of the box) and dumped almost all of them onto the ground next to the hive.  
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(Blurring out big girl words that aren't fit for a family friendly blog... ;-)
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And then I got an apiary birthday gift as well!  I looked in the swarm box and saw the queen, still safe and sound and not buried in tall grass never to be found alive again.  WHEW!!!!  I carefully dumped her into the middle of the hive box...


...and everyone (probably at least a thousand or more bees) marched up the concrete blocks and into the hive.  And they did it so fast that I didn't even have time to get a decent video!


Almost all in.


Now they're really all in.


Stella fixed them some sugar syrup.



And we'll cross our fingers (and Stella will work her butt off keeping them fed all fall ;-). 




Then, to make our morning even better, the neighbor stopped by with his new puppy, Skipper.  Quite the birthday week :-D.


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