June 19, 2011


All indications point to our bees having swarmed. Which basically means that the queen and half the workers thought they could do better somewhere else and took off. I have not been able to find a definitive reason why bees swarm. There are several factors that seem to relate in an equation of hive-space vs. bee population vs. honey supply vs. time of year vs. mystery.
I can't help take their leaving personally and am a bit hurt. I looked around the property but could not find any clues to their whereabouts. The bees that were left have already made some queen cells and we are hoping that if we leave things alone everything will be back to 100% in a couple weeks, new queen and all. If the new queen isn't up to the task we will have to run out and buy a queen in a hurry.
We figured the watch-n-learn approach would be the best which is why we have not bought a new queen yet. I now see the reason to starting the bee keeping hobby with two hives however. The books I read sated you should do this so you can compare the two and in case one dies. What they did NOT make clear is how a healthy hive can help an ailing one. In my case I worry that there wont be enough good (genetically diverse) drones for the new queen. If I had a second hive this would not be a worry.
There should be at least twice as many bees on the frames and a lot more brood.
If a new queen works out and the bees can get their population back up we might get a little honey in the fall. If things don't pick up they may not have enough food to last the Maine winter and we could lose the hive. Yipe.


Aaron Hobson said...

What a bummer! We're routing for a full recovery and will be watching for updates.

kay said...

Hey Kert and Ilana!
We had a swarm one spring.......the neighbors came over and told us that 'our bees had gotten loose and were in one of their trees'. Rob got a box with a lid, shook the swarm into the box, covered it, and put it back into one of the hives. We didn't know why they swarmed either...we were taking good care of them!? Hopefully, the hive will recover by fall and all will be well for overwintering. Such is the life of a beekeeper....never know what's going to happen. Fun reading your blog......brings back alot of memories and nostalgia for bee herding. love AK

kgilg said...

Thanks for the comment, Kay. It's nice to know we can bring back some good memories. It's still not too late to take up bee keeping in Virginia!! Give it some more thought...