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We are really new to keeping bees, I got my husband a set up for Christmas and we installed the bees about a month ago. They have been foraging well and filled the bottom levels with brood.Yesterday, we removed the feeder and added the second level. Today, while I was working in the garden I heard a strange humming sound and looked over by the hive. I think every single bee was outside flying around madly. Nothing had disturbed the hive and they never went very far (it's not like I wanted to investigate very closely...) This went on for about 40 miniuts or so and then they all went back in. A couple hours later, I looked up and they were all out again. Now, they are not.
What in the world are they doing? Could they have made a new queen and it's a mating flight? I haven't seen any grouped anywhere, just flying about in a cloud. Thankfully they aren't acting agressivly or I would be out of there, but I'm not going to go knock on their door to find out.
I'd appreciate it if anyone can tell me what they are doing as I can't find it in the book. (Oh my gosh, can I sound any more like a greenhorn?)
I just went out to check the bees. They have swarmed and are all in a ball on the apple tree. Now what? I hope there is somebody out there right now who canhelp me. Can I put them back in the hive or do I need annother hive? Emergency!!
Ok, no emergency any more. We used the internetnet, divided the hive boxes, made new parts, dumped the bees and everybody seems happy. Now I just have to get some new frames and boxes and wait for the new queen to come out for her mating flight. I hope I get to see it. the whole swarm thing was facinating and we feel a little bit more experienced now. Good thing as now we will have two hives instead of one. (I think I prefered one.)
We fed the new hive tonight. It has almost twice as many bees as the other one. I guess they would need more bees as they are starting with no brood for replacements. I need to make a new feeder for the old hive and then we will check for the queen cells tomorrow. They were already trying to make new comb on the inside cover so I hope our new frames and supers come quickly. We ordered the one piece plastic frames this time. Has anyone else used them? We will build our own supers and brood boxes and thought the plastics would be the fastest to fill them. I did make sure I got the wax coated ones. Sitting there coating the others with beeswax was a pain in the neck. (well actually fingers)
I'm also wondering if the bees completely deplete the honey reserves before they swarm. That's why I want to make sure I put out a feeder for them tomorrow.
Everybody seems happy outthere now. The new hive is about 1/4 filled with brood already. I have been feeding both hives, but today noticed lots of bees foraging around the yard. We ordered new plastic frames from Mann Lake that come already coated with beeswax. They smelled so good when I opened the box! Last night my husband built the new brood boxes and supers, so tonight we will add on to the old hive as we think this was the reason they swarmed. In a week a couple of weeks we will add to the new hive. I am still not sure on the timing of this. If I add it too soon, will it make a diffrence? And how do I know when to stop feeding them? Since I'm not sure if the swarming had to do with running out of room or because I stopped feeding them, I don't want to go through that again.
Usually bees will not gather pollen so close to their hive. If the bees are foraging in your own yard, they are probably scouring the area for any water they can find.
Given how prolific your hives probably are, I wouldn't bother feeding them anymore. Maybe you could just add some water to the feeder or set out a good local water supply for them.
It's not unusual for hives to swarm this time of the year. I have a hive that has swarmed twice already this year and swarmed once last year which means there are now three healthy feral hives out there somewhere. This year must be a great pollen year for them. What's great about that particular hive is that they are very resistant to mites. We didn't medicate them at all this past year and experimented with the confectioner sugar method. The result is a healthy hive with very few mites.
I have tons of honeybees foraging for pollen in the clovers that are currently all over my "lawn" (I use the term lawn liberally here because about 75% of it is made up of clover and dandelions, LOL), but I doubt they are my bees. Possibly a few of them are, but most are bringing in a yellow pollen right now which I don't think comes from white clover. Everything I've read on the subject suggests that honeybees do not gather pollen that's in the immediate vicinity of their hive, but I could be misinterpreting what that means given that I've never sat down and observed any of my own bees gathering pollen.
The clover isn't in bloom here yet, that's why we were told to feed them. It stays cold up here longer. They have lots of water as we have artesian water in the yard and there is a big mill pond and creek less than an acre away. With all the activity I saw around the hives today, I think that they must be foraging and there was about a thousand of bees in the white locust trees about 200 feet from the hive. These may not be mine as we have had healthy populations of wild bees in the past here. We have been going by how much pollen we actually see on the bees at the hive, but maybe with all the food I've been giving them, they just didn't feel the need to go out to eat. They do seem to have full pollen sacks tonight.
We do have two bee books. One is Beekeeping for dummies,( I don't think they realised how dumb we could be.)
I find it interesting to read that honey bees won’t forage for pollen close to the hive. Why wouldn’t they. It has been my experience that bees will not travel any father than necessary to gather what they want. A large portion of the bees working the locust blossoms you mentioned could very well be form your hives. I doubt if you will see the bees bringing in much pollen from this tree. Their primary purpose will be to gather nectar to convert to honey. The adult bee does not eat pollen. The only use the hive has for pollen is to feed the larva. The adult bee only eats honey. If there is a heavy nectar flow, the bees will not take the sugar solution (I’m assuming you are feeding a sugar solution) you are providing them.