Every year I try and outsmart the bees. I think the chances of that are 70-30 with me being the 30, and I am giving myself a lot of leeway.
This time it is trying to make a hive think that they have swarmed…
I have taken off all the winter garb, the 2 inch insulation, the black plastic to absorb solar heat off all the hives. That was two weeks ago. And I went through six of my eight hives. They looked good. I added a super box on two hives and two more got a queen excluder and a box.
Today while I was out trying to go gardening…I noticed that the three east facing hives were doing a lot more than orientation flights. Perhaps preswarm flights…. So I donned a bee suit.
The first hive was one that although I had taken off the outside wintering gear—but it still had a super full of insulation above the hive and a shim board for feed. They had of course taken advantage of the extra space of the shim board and made wonky wax and the queen had laid some drones.
So I got rid of the shim, sacrificing the drones cells and wax. And added a queen excluder and a medium hive box full off last years empty frames—a couple that had been been extracted and frozen—those were full of left over honey dregs.
The second hive that looked swarm-y took two hours to go through. Thankfully it was only 75 degrees out as being in a bee suit for two hours in 90 degrees is torture. The hive was comprised of three box hive boxes a deep, a medium and a short. After going through the top two hive boxes, and finding a good amount of capped cells a ton of drones; I finally found a capped queen cell in the bottom deep hive box on the bottom of a frame.
So I am hoping that I tricked them into thinking that the hive swarmed. I made another hive area facing north. I divided the frames up between the two hives. I went through every frame searching diligently for the old queen—and I could not find her. I knocked off most of the bees on the frames into the new hive (hopefully with the old queen) so that hive would be “home”. The new hive and the new queen also got enough stores to last through the next two weeks. They will also have the benefit of all the foragers coming back to that hive space.
We will see what happens…