This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What is happening in Mid May in the hive

Black Locust trees usually bloom in late May. They are a great nectar source.
Now it is mid May and we have had some nice warm weather over the last week. The warm weather has made it possible for the bees to expand their brood nest. This came at a good time.
 Package Bees: The 2 lb and 3 lb packages are building up quickly. 2 lb packages should have on their second boxes by now. 3 lb packages should be very close to having a second box. Don't get hung up if the bees have not drawn out the very outside frames in the lower box. Bees are reluctant to draw out the outside frames in a hive because of the temperature differences along the outside edges of the hive. If looking at a single deep and you are unsure if you should add another box or not. If you are thinking, "Wow, there sure are a lot of bees in this box" If that statement crosses your mind then add another box. A frame of drawn comb can be moved down at a later date. If the hive is too crowded they will swarm.
 Overwintered Hives: Overwintered hives are packed with bees right now. Many of these colonies have put up a super or two of honey already. The crowded colonies should have or should be divided. Swarming is going on and I have heard of quite a few swarms already.
 This rainy weather will lock the bees in the hive for many days. The bees will feel very crowded and the swarming impulse will be kicking into high gear. This swarming impulse will be in all strong colonies and swarm management should be in place.
 Checking for swarm cells every 7-10 days is in order. Checking all the boxes for swarm cell and cut out any uncapped swarm cells. Usually if you come across a capped swarm cell the hive would have already swarmed. 
 If the hive has swarmed you should notice a decrease in activity at the front door. There should be a noticeable reduction in bee arrival and departures. There still will be a large population of bees in the hive. But the foragers will be the bees that have left. You normally don't see the foragers in the hive in great numbers during the day because they are out gathering. So an inexperienced beekeeper would say their bees must not have swarmed. 
 If there are capped swarm cells in the hive and the hive has swarmed, it is better to pinch the swarm cell and buy a queen then it is for them to make their own queen. It works best to pinch the swarm cell. Sometimes cutting a capped swarm cell, there could be a queen just hours from being released. If the cell gets opened  with out squashing the bee inside, a virgin queen can pop out and jump into the hive. This virgin queen can be very difficult to find. Installing a purchased queen into a hive with a virgin queen, will result in the demise of the queen that was just purchased for $31.00.  
It is best to purchase a queen, at least from May through the month of June. After the month of June. Purchasing a queen isn't going to influence the outcome of the nectar flow. By the time new bees start emerging the nectar flow will be mostly over. Make sure a queen is available to purchase before the swarm cell is pinched.
The fruit bloom: The fruit bloom is coming to an end. Most of the flowering trees and shrubs are done blooming and even the dandelions are on their way out. The bees will now be coming to a time of a dearth in pollen. There may not be large amounts of pollen for about two weeks. Pollen patties should be on hives for the short term. The next nectar flows will be Black  Locust in Late May, and alfalfa and the beginnings of the first clover blooms in early June.
Black Locust can produce a large amount of nectar if there is a large amount of these trees in you locale.
Everything is moving in the right direction. The main nectar flow is about a month away. Keep your bees from swarming and this may be a good honey year for all..