It was a hectic week for us with the ladies 🙂
As I mentioned in my last post, since we only had one hive, two weeks ago we decided to remove the royal cells to keep the current queen in place and avoid swarming.
But, last Tuesday evening we went to check on the hive and everything seemed very calm, too calm, and groups of bees were outside the hive. So, we checked the web cam video (yes, we installed wired web cam, so that when we can keep an eye on our hives when we are not here) and the activity was strange. On a hunch, I went to check the tree in front of the hive, and there they were 🙂
The hive had swarmed and was in the tree, waiting for a new place to go. We cut the branch and recovered the bees in a smaller hive. They were very calm since they stuffed themselves with honey (provisions) before they left 😉 Honey calms the bees. They have 48h to find a new place to live and they send out scouts to look for a new home.
Saturday evening, as planned, we picked up the 3 swarms we had ordered from our beekeeper teacher and drove down to the Ardeche. We set them up in their new spot at 11pm. Before going to bed, out of curiosity, I checked the tree across from the hives with a flashlight and there was another swarm 😎 from the same hive.
*** Bee culture : There are 2 causes for swarming:
(1) In the Spring, the bees naturally raise new queens and once she is born part of the colony leaves with the queen. Generally, the old queen leaves. This ensures the survival of the species. The new queen will stay with the remainder of the colony.
(2) A hive can also swarm because of the weather (too rainy & windy) which keeps the bees inside and the hive gets “blocked” (over populated, with honeycombs too full for the queen to lay eggs) which causes the bees to raise another queen and then swarm.
So, yesterday we captured the 2nd swarm, which makes for 6 hives 🙂 Next week we will check all the hives, to make sure the queens are well and laying eggs, and that the girls are back to their routine 😉 If all goes well, and the weather improves, the colony will grow quickly, and by mid-June we’ll be able to add supers to the hives (the part in which they stock the honey that we will extract at the end of the season) on all the hives except the 2 “bonus” hives, they are not big enough colonies. They need to get stronger. Anyhow, if all goes well we’ll get lots of honey this year 🙂
So, finally that makes 6 hives…