The population of a honey bee colony can explode in no time once the weather warms up and everything comes into bloom. (That’s right about now, by the way, at least in my little corner of the Isle of Newfoundland.) All that nectar, all the pollen, all the warm air, all that sunshine — the next thing you know, the bees are getting ready to swarm, or they’ve already swarmed. It seems to take only a few days for the bees to get that message when the conditions are right. As a general rule, when I open a hive and see bees over the top bars of every frame, I add another super, another hive box — I give the colony room to grow. They may not need the extra space today or tomorrow, but when they do need it and it’s not there, boom, off they go in a giant cloud of bees that will fill the sky, also known as a swarm. This video shows what it looks like when it’s time to add another super to the hive (at least for me it does):
00:00 — A deep super (and frames) cut down to a medium. 00:40 — Bees covering the top bars (time to add a super). 01:10 — Dispersing the bees with mist instead of smoke. 01:27 — Adding the super. 01:48 — Adding a foundationless frame (for comb honey). 02:38 — Putting the hive back together. 03:10 — Confused bees looking for the new entrance. 04:52 — The bees already reoriented to the new entrance. 05:10 — A problem with a 9-frame brood chamber.
And some bonus material for those who can hold out long enough.
P.S. #1: I mention in the video that’s it’s June 21st when it obviously isn’t. That’s my pandemic brain jumping up and saying hello. Everybody and their cousin Bob is losing track of the days.
P.S. #2: Some would look at this video and think I put another box on too early, that every frame in the hive should absolutely packed with bees for adding another box. Maybe. But when a nectar flow is about the kick into high gear, I prefer to play safe than sorry. There are advantages and disadvantages to everything. Putting a box on too early, like I may have done in this video, can result in the bees not really filling up any frames. They spread everything out and none of the honey frames get filled to capacity. However, it reduces the likelihood of swarming. Waiting until more bees to cover the frames can have the opposite effect, more honey packed into the frames but greater risk of swarming.
Here’s a honey bee colony that seems to have benefited from dandelions that weren’t mowed down.
00:15 — Burr comb beneath the inner cover. 00:47 — Fresh comb made from yellow from dandelions. 01:00 — A frame of capped brood. 01:34 — Beautiful brood pattern. 01:49 — Close up of capped brood. 02:10 — Open brood (little white grubs). 02:25 — A closer look at the queen. 02:53 — Yellow burr comb. 03:50 — Honey bees scenting. 03:55 — Close up on fresh eggs in burr comb. 04:18 — Summary of inspection.
Plus some bonus material for those who bother to watch the whole thing. Continue reading →
I pulled this funny looking 5-pounder of comb honey from one of my hives yesterday. No humans or bees were harmed. The honey extractor known as a “Flow Hive” would deprive me of this experience. Beekeeping, for me, is about being close to the bees. Honey is the bonus.