Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SAD DAY FOR THE BEEKEEPER IN ME


Today is awful. I came to the realization that splitting the hive is impossible. Thanks to the sloppy job done by the landscaper and his inability to fix the mess until two weeks from now we are left with soggy soil which means when I walk out to my hive I sink calf length in mud. With no stable ground to stand on for very long and really no safe place to put the "daughter" hive right now I have to give in to the fact that my bees will swarm and I will likely not get any honey this year :( My hubby has reminded me though that this venture was not about honey, it is about doing our part to keep bees alive and flourishing in this world and also having the wonderful opportunity to walk out and see them working any time we like.

Why split the hive?
In my beekeeping course we were told that splitting a hive is the best way to keep your bees from swarming. Apparently when they swarm only half of them leave with their queen and the other half stays behind with a new queen (which they will nourish until she's born).

What I have is called a "parent hive". It is the hive in which my first package of bees was installed. Two weeks before nectar flow (I'm a little late), we were suppose to split the hive into two. We would take the top hive body and put it on a new stand and bottom board, order a new queen and that would be the daughter hive (just like starting a new package but with bees that I already have).

The parent hive is the honey producer. After the daughter hive is created the parent hive would consist of two hive bodies instead of three and I would continually add honey supers to that hive as needed to create honey over the summer. In the fall I would not prep the parent hive for winter survival. We were told to let that hive die out and only maintain the daughter hive. The reason for letting the parent hive die is to prevent the queen from aging. Apparently, according to my instructors, an old queen (beyond 2 years)is no good. I must admit, I'm not feeling the "let the parent hive die" part.

If any beekeepers have advice on how to keep the bees from swarming without splitting I welcome that information :) Right now the middle hive body is 60% full of honey and about 30% full of brood. The top hive body is drawn out and they are filling it with nectar but no brood. I couldn't remove the middle deep because it was too heavy and I didn't have good footing :(

NOTE TO SELF: Don't keep 10 frames in each deep. Use only 9 with the 2nd parent hive. Trying to deal with moving of frames and propolis is a nightmare when using 10frames.