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I've been keeping this blog for nine years and now there are over 1200 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

Need help with an Atlanta area swarm? Visit Found a Swarm? Call a Beekeeper.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Saga of the Small Size Swarm Hive


Well, as we all have agreed, the queen in this small swarm was killed by her own bees who "balled the queen" when I moved the hive and changed its position. Left queenless, the hive needed to have either the resources to make their own queen or have a queen introduced.

I decided to experiment with trying to see if I could give them the resources to make their own queen. To do this I needed to take a hive with good growth and remove a frame of new eggs and young larvae and put this in the hive. The bees will then feed the eggs royal jelly and develop one of them into a queen. With the eggs already laid, a queen should be in the hive in 16 days. Then she still must go on a mating flight and return....so the whole endeavor is fraught with failure potential.

I opened the swarm hive to find it only amounted to 3 frames of bees. I had thought the dead queen was a virgin queen and this was supported in that there was no evidence of brood in the hive frames. I called Cindy Bee, a reknowned member of Metro Atlanta Beekeepers and the Georgia Beekeeper of the year, to ask her advice. She said with a swarm this small, I could shake these bees into one of my existing hives to up the numbers. I told her I wanted the experience of trying to make a queen, and she then said for me to put two frames of eggs and brood into the small hive. She also advised that I begin the process of moving the hive to the location where I want it to be. (I'll post about this move later)

Now the drama begins! I decided to take a frame from the deep brood box of Mellona since the bees there are doing so well. I took the five boxes off of the hive. In the deep box, I could not find a frame of mostly new eggs and brood. I believe the queen in this box has moved to the box above. So mainly I made the bees mad and gave up on this hive. I did this because the new swarm is in a deep box and it would be preferable to take a frame from a deep to add to the swarm hive.

Then I went to Proteus and went into the deep. The first frame I looked at seemed to have mostly capped brood, so I decided to try another. I picked up the second one and tried to hold it at an angle to the sun to see if there were eggs. As I did this, the comb broke in half and half of the brood comb fell to the deck. Horrors! I was so upset. Honey and goo everywhere. I ran inside and got my bag of long rubber bands. As quickly as I could I rubber banded the comb back into the frame and put it back in the hive. In the process I dropped honey laden rubber bands all over the deck. I shut Proteus back up. I had done enough damage there.

Since I was determined to make this experiment happen, I decided to look in Bermuda for eggs. This hive is all medium frames. I have always been able to see what is going on in it. Sure enough, I immediately found a frame with larvae in all stages. There was some very tiny larvae and I think I saw eggs in the cells next to that, but I wasn't willing to hold a frame up to the sun again and risk the same mishap.

I pulled two frames of very young brood from the medium and put them in to the new hive. I sprayed the bees in the hive and the ones on the introduced frame with sugar water flavored with vanilla. Cindy suggested that I do this to keep the bees from killing each other by "messing up their smellers."

Now the small hive has five frames in it - the original three deep frames and two medium frames in between that are brood and hopefully the resources to make a queen.

I do hope this all works out. What an adventure beekeeping has turned out to BEE!

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