It may be too early yet for people to start thinking about bees, but they’ve been busy already this Spring!
Last Thursday afternoon I performed the first hive extraction of the year, and I was extremely surprised at how active the hive was so early in the year. The hive was healthy with thousands and thousands of bees, I found capped brood, larva, eggs, and so much honey I didn’t know what to do with it all!
What is a hive extraction, you might ask?
When hives of bees swarm in the Spring, they will collect in a cluster (or ball of bees) on a branch or other horizontal surface. They hang out there for a day or so until the scout bees find a suitable new home for the hive.
In urban areas, this often ends up being a hollow spot on the outside of someone’s house. They seem to prefer pillars and overhangs, but I’ve seen them go into hot tubs, grills, cars, and even once, a Shop Vac!
When a swarm of bees is not caught before they move in, it is up to a skilled beekeeper to safely remove the bees from a house. This involves carful planning, demolition, sometimes heights, sticky tools, and pissed off bees.
If the comb and bees are removed properly, most of the time the hive can be saved, and relocated to a proper home. Quick work and due diligence are required for the bees survival, and not all of my extractions have been successful, but it is an incredible feeling when they do survive.
So, the first extraction of 2017 was (so far) a success. There were about 8 sheets of comb that had brood in it, in all different stages of development. As I carefully removed those sheets from the hive, I made sure to watch for the queen. She was easy to find, as I traced the stages of the brood development from oldest to newest.
I was able to save most of the sheets of brood by securing them in empty frames with rubber bands. As long as you put them in the right way, the bees will be able to fuse the pieces of brood into the frame, and continue to raise the young that were not damaged in the transition. After saving all the brood I could, there were still two frames left, so I filled those up with a couple good chunks of honey comb and called it good.
It’s been nearly a week since the extraction and tomorrow will be a nice warm day to check on them – will update you when I do.
So long, and Bee Mindful!