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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bee Situation! 2016

 For those of you who follow my blog, or remember Indiana weather in March, 
Easter Sunday was beautiful.  We were outside in short sleeves!
 I had five hives and they were all alive and buzzing.  
Then the following weekend, this happened.
 And it was bad.  My parents, who live closer to town, lost power for hours.  They tried to  make it to our house and couldn't because the storm picked up so much they couldn't see to drive.  You couldn't even see the pond across the road.  In this picture you can still see it.  It would sleet, then rain, then hail, then snow - sideways!
 A few days later I remember trying to beat this storm home.
 Two weeks after Easter, more snow.  You can see in this picture how green our grass was from all of the warm weather, then we get snow and cold, and if it wasn't snowing it was raining, almost the entire month of April. 
This robin looked up at me and chirped, "WTH?" Bee Lady?  
"I know, right."
"It's Indiana."

 Sad to say, I lost four out of five hives during the first two weeks of April.  I called my mentor beekeeper friend because I was so distraught.  He told me it happened to A LOT of beekeepers and there isn't anything we can do about it.  What happened was the Queen started laying eggs as though it were summer.  It felt like summer!  And the bees could not maintain the warmth they needed in their little bee cluster to stay alive. 
 Vickie and I spent an entire day taking down dead beehives and extracting the honey left over from winter out of the hives. It was a long, sad day.  
I had the one hive left and I was praying no more cold weather.  I opened it one day and just wanted to cry because the queen was not laying.  I found out that was a good thing.  She wasn't laying because it was too cold out for the amount of bees in the hive to keep any more brood warm. 
 How smart are these creatures!

So, I had one hive, and I had an empty hive set up with the frames we extracted.  And would you believe a swarm helped themselves to that empty hive! What luck!
So I was back up to two hives. 
Mid-May, My Shug and I decide to escape to warm weather in Florida!
 I'm sitting by the pool enjoying this drink...
And I get a call!  Someone has a swarm! 
Are you kidding me! I'm almost 800 miles away and I get a swarm call.
 Now, my cousin Vickie and I joked about her getting a swarm for me while I was gone.  
I told her she COULD do it!  
We even joked about a 
bee mantra for her to say while she was getting the swarm.

Breathe.... Bzz Bzz
Breathe.... Bzz Bzz

And when the owners sent me this picture of this swarm I KNEW SHE COULD DO IT!
My Shug was floating in the pool, "Don't send her after that."
"She can do it" (My fingers were flying on my my phone e-mailing her)
No she can't, he says.
She can too.....She's helped me for years, I say (I'm texting her) 
I'm begging her to call me.  
She was at work, she had a game to work that night (she's athletic something or another where she works)
and after all of that......

I think it's the third swarm in my history of beekeeping that didn't require a ladder! 
Her husband is helping her! 
  Just like a pro!
Hive number three!
  Then on the way home from Florida I got a text from someone who has bees in a whiskey barrel on their front porch.
 We went to get the bees and decided to come back that night and get the barrel instead.  When you are getting a swarm, it's best to do it during the day when the sun is shining and they are occupied looking for a home.
When you move a hive, even if it's in a whisky barrel, you should do it at night when the bees are inside.  So, we were not even home for 24 hours when we were off getting a whisky barrel of bees.
We brought it home that night, and the next day in the sunshine (when the bees were occupied) My Shug sawed the lid off of the barrel.
 Unfortunately, the comb was on the lid and it fell into the barrel.  Which had apparently housed robins for years and years.  PeeYew! stinky  But look at all those bees!

 I won't go into the details of how I did this, unless there is a beekeeper out there that needs to know.
 But it worked!
 After a few days, no bees in the barrel, and all the bees were in the hive!
Hive number four!
We returned the barrel to the owners and they were happy to not have bees. They were also going to keep the hole to the barrel plugged up.
 And yesterday, Vickie and I split a hive that was FULL!
It took us two hours to find the queen.  Hot, Heavy, Hard work.
When you split a hive, you do it in the sunshine and you do it in hopes that the hive will not swarm from becoming too full.  This was the hive that had just moved into my empty hive body that was in the yard. 
So now I'm back up to five.
(If this split works)
I don't know how much honey I will have this year.  I'm starting with new hives again. And I know, most people want the honey.  I, however, want the bees.  
And I'm going to do everything I can to increase my hives so that I have bees. 
Beekeeping is not only hot, hard, and heavy work, it is also emotional.  I was so excited this year to get into beekeeping again.  Not that I quit, but the last few years I was always beekeeping in a hurry, with the house always on my mind.  
After going to the big beekeeping meeting in February, I was anxious to get started and I want to learn all I can.  I want to try new things.  I remember that day, only a month ago, I was choking back tears, to now, when I'm a happy bee lady once more!

Cindy Bee 

PS. I know, I know...this is not short and sweet.  C'est La Vie as my sister would say.


  1. That's so sad that you lost so many hives, the weather has a lot to answer for, but great news that you've managed to fill them all again and very well done to Vickie, she did a great job getting that swarm.

  2. It is sweet and very interesting! Sad with the hives, great to hear you will have time to enjoy your bees!

  3. Wow!!! The life of a beekeeper is certainly not dull :) I do remember Indiana having some radical spring weather. I love reading about your beekeeping adventures. It amazes me and I am so proud of you for helping to keep our bees healthy and happy. It's a very good thing!
    Connie :)


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