7 responses

  1. F. Elms
    May 2, 2013

    So THAT’S where the honey bees have been coming from around my crosusses. I thought perhaps there had been a swarm last year that you missed and has become naturalized. Nice to see them around, I had thought we wouldn’t see them any more since you moved your hives out of the city.

  2. Phillip
    May 17, 2013

    Whenever I feed the bees honey, they attack it, devour it, with more at least twice as much enthusiasm as they would with even the sweetest, most attractive sugar syrup.

    I decided to feed my bees last year’s crystallized honey. The hive in the city that I don’t want to swarm hasn’t received any sugar syrup this year. I can’t risk overfeeding them. But I did give them left over comb honey that I didn’t eat from last year, and today I took pint sized Mason jar full of crystallized honey, put it on its side with the mouth of the jar next to the inner cover hole, covered by a honey super, and the bees have been going at it like mad.

    I figure it’s just as good as any sugar syrup. Maybe not, but close enough.

  3. Phillip
    June 18, 2013

    I performed an artificial swarm today as explained in this video…


    …and like all things on the internet that make a beekeeping procedure seem peaceful and easy, it’s a lot harder than it looks. I hope it works.

    Note to self: NEVER feed the bees past the month of May, or maybe just don’t feed them past winter anymore. I barely fed my bees this year and they still created swarm cells. I can deal with it, but I’d rather not. Tearing apart a 3-deep hive packed with bees ain’t easy no matter how Zenfully blissed out you are.

    • Phillip
      June 20, 2013

      I asked around about this method for dealing with swarm cells (i.e., preventing the colony from swarming) and a straightforward answer I got was: “Move the queen to a new location.” That’s it. Move her with some other bees, some honey and pollen, etc. — but no swarm cells. It’s a simple move that emulates what happens during a swarm and supposedly works every time.

      What I don’t get is this: If dealing with swarm cells is so easy, why doesn’t everybody talk about it? “Got swarm cells? No problem. Just put the queen in another location. Done.”

      Why is that not the #1 tip for all new beekeepers? EVERYBODY is going to deal with swarm cells eventually. If moving the queen is so simple and effective, why isn’t it common knowledge?

      Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if I find another hive full of swarm cells this weekend. If so, I’ll just move the queen and see what happens.

      • Rusty
        June 24, 2013


        That’s a really good question. In my opinion it has to do with equipment. Moving the queen is the same as making a split and lots of beekeepers don’t have an extra hive sitting around, so they try to prevent the swarm by removing the cells or making some other hive manipulation.

        Also, if someone is trying to maximize honey production, they may not want to split their hive. Some beekeepers may be more willing to try an alternative method, even though they risk losing a swarm, in order to try for that extra production.

  4. Phillip
    June 23, 2013

    The artificial swarm worked. It’s nice when something works.

    Then I had to dig into another 3-deep hive today and discovered it was full of swarm cells. What a headache. I should have just left it alone and let it swarm. Instead I performed another artificial swarm and the bees were not happy.

    For now on, the only time I feed my bees sugar syrup is in the fall, to top them up just before winter. Any kind of spring feeding to give them a boost is not necessary. It seems to be a guaranteed recipe for swarms. The bees do well enough on their own.

    I also had to transport a mating nuc full of bees today in my car and the bees got out at one point. I eventually removed the mating nuc, but it took hours to kill all the bees that stayed behind in the car (they wouldn’t leave). Another headache.

    Anymore beekeeping days like today and I’m pretty sure I’d give it up. Beekeeping is supposed to fun and peaceful. Today was treacherous.

  5. Phillip
    July 4, 2013

    My hidden city hive, despite being queenless for at least the past two weeks (a new queen will emerge from a supercedure cell soon, I hope) — it’s now the largest hive I’ve build. It consists of 3 deep brood supers, a shallow honey super and 2 medium honey supers. THAT’S BIG. And nearly every super, including the deeps, is full honey. It’s kind of nuts.

    I suspect the bees are into honey-making mode because there is no queen and no new brood. By default, with nothing else to do, they collect pollen and make honey. Or perhaps the city has so many sources of nectar, they’re just in the middle of a massive honey flow. (I will never feed my city hives into the spring again. If this is any indication, they don’t need any help.) Whatever is going on, I had to add another honey super today so they might free up the brood area and give the new queen (if she mates successfully) some place to lay. It’s getting a little crowded in there. I’ve never seen so much honey in a single hive before.

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