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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wild hive

On Sunday, I got into my beehives.  I was checking to make sure the queens were laying and to see if there was any honey to extract.
All hives had good laying queens, but no honey to extract.  They were making honey, but there were only a couple of frames that were capped, out of all of my hives, so I didn't extract.
When I talk about honey being capped, see the top of this frame, how it's white-ish.  (If you add "ish" on the end of the word, it isn't as strong.  Ex: It's sort of cream-ish sort of white-ish)   Well the white-ish part is capped.  The bottom is still open.  So it's not ready to extract.  The bees know exactly when the honey is ready to preserve, when the moisture content is perfect, and that's when they will cap it.  But not until it's ready.  Not much different than the way we can food.
That Vickie...always sneaking selfies in on my camera!  And yes she came over to help me for the day, again.  I gotta admit, she has been a trooper.  Most people say they want to help bee keep, but when it comes to it, it doesn't work out.  She has helped for two years now
and is getting braver by the year!
Here is the real reason for this post. 
 I got a call from our local Extension Office on Thursday about a "swarm" which was not a swarm at all, but instead, a wild hive.  It looks like a swarm in this picture.

 Upon closer inspection, you can see the honeycomb.   A wild hive.   I've only seen this one other time since I've been a beekeeper.  I've seen wild hives INSIDE trees (actually, just seen the bees coming in and out of the tree) but this hive is on the outside of an apple tree.  My Shug and I went to look at it on Saturday evening, and to try to come up with a plan of action.
The plan was to put an empty hive body on a ladder and drop the hive into the hive body.  If only it were that easy.  The ladder was too tall.  The home owner had a couple of 2 x 4's handy, so we put two ladders on either side, and put the 2x4's on the steps, then set the hive on that.  If it were a swarm I would have yanked on the limb, and the bees would have fallen into the brood box.  However, they were attached to a very big branch on the back side, which was in the way of putting the hive in the box, then cutting it.  They were also attached to several tiny branches coming out the top, and a few small branches all over.  

I thought about it for quite some time and finally decided to just go for cutting the comb with a serrated knife.  It is not what I wanted to do.  I was concerned that the bees would get REALLY mad.
I gotta tell you peeps, I did not even get nervous.  These bees were the nicest bees EVER! 
I did have help on the ground too, which was very helpful to me.  Since Vickie now knows the names of the parts of the hive and the names of tools from listening to me while we are in the hives, I would ask her for "x" and she would immediately get it. 
It was sad taking this down because a couple of the combs fell into the box.  I don't know if I hurt the queen or not, I hope not, but I'm sure I killed some bees and brood. 
I then tried brushing the rest of the bees into the box, but they wouldn't have any part of it!
There were a couple of times I thought the bees were going to get mad because about a dozen of them flew onto my face shield.  I would never have attempted this without suiting up.

This was the clump of bees that I was trying to get into the hive by brushing.  And when they kept flying back up, I had a feeling the queen was possibly in this clump.  I even tried squirting honey on the top of the frames in the hive, hoping they would come down and eat!
After many failed attempts of brushing the bees into the box, the homeowner (who I made sure was also suited up, got on the ladder and sawed off the entire branch they were on.)  He is a brave man.  Most people who are not beekeepers, are not willing to do something this close to that many bees
We then set about trimming all of the other branches and limbs off.

I put everything in the bee hive.  We put the hive on a wagon and wheeled it to the truck and I drove very slowly home.
Here is the sad part.  Usually when you get a swarm or a wild hive this late in the season, they don't survive.  The reason is there is not enough time for them to make enough honey to get them through the winter. 
Yesterday (Tuesday) I checked on them.  I took the limb out of the hive and put brood frames in the hive.  I was going to try to mess with the comb, maybe see if I could stand it up somehow, but it was completely covered in bees and I thought they had been disturbed enough.  I also put three bottles of sugar water and one bottle of honey in the hive.  I'm hoping to feed them enough that they can put the excess in the hive and not starve to death this winter.  At least they have a fighting chance, in the wild, they would have died for sure.

Cindy Bee


  1. All I can say is HOLY MOOSE-POOPS!...:)JP

  2. You are so brave to do that. Here's hoping that hive survives.

    1. Thanks Fiona. I hope it survives too. I'm doing what I can.

  3. I have a confession; I am now a kept bee woman. no work, just the benefits... I guess I have become the woodland queen bee ;p

    This summer, a bee company out of california asked if they could put thirteen hives on one of our hayfields. They come out, use a forklift, and arrange a semi circle of hives. Then the little pollenaters go to work on the alfafa and sweet clover and my garden and wild sunflowers and my kept flowers etc. to make honey. Then the men come back the end of this month and with the forklift load the bees...once they are done extracting honey, they give me 4 jars and then bottle the rest, and send the bees off to vacation in a warm spot. They will be coming back again because they told us our area is very productive, and we dont keep cows that would push the hives over...

    And I dont have to do a thing. kept, i tell ya, kept...

    *hangs head in catholic guilt same*

  4. forgot to add, you be a bad ass bee woman...


  5. What an amazing series of shots!! Wow. That hive is HUGE!

  6. That was so interesting, I hope so much they survive xx


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