Friday the 17th was another exciting day in my short time as a beekeeper. I will have to give you the lead up story though. I usually take a look at my hives after dinner almost every night. I don’t open the covers, but just take a look in the entrance and check on the dead bees in front of the hives. On Wednesday the 15th it seemed like a good idea to put my ear next to the hive and listen. Hive #2 ( Kashyyyk) had a nice hum one side and on the other it sounded like a lot of bees trying to scratch their way out! perhaps this sound was because that was were the plastic frame feeder is. Hive #1 (Coruscant) had the same hum but beneath that i could hear what sounded like a duck or bird quacking! I had read about Queen bees “Piping” but had never really heard it before. I listened for a while, quite excited that there was now a virgin queen hatched and if all went well and she mated and made it back to the hive there would be eggs visible in a week or so! Here is a link to the Piping sound that the queen bee makes. I have read a few different reasons that the queen makes this sound/vibration but most seem to say its a call out to any other queens in the hive to come and battle.
Friday my daughter called me at work around noon to tell me ” I think your bees are swarming again” I jumped in my car and blasted home not knowing what to expect. I pulled up to see a large swarm starting to settle in the same tree as the prime swarm 2 weeks ago. The only problem was that the swarm was about 12 feet up the tree this time. I gathered my equipment and went and checked on Hive #1 where the swarm had come from while it settled in the tree. The Bees seemed a little dazed and the population seemed low. After managing to capture the swarm by shaking it into a box that was lying in the alley and then transferring the swarm into my beesaving nuc box (again) it was back to work by 2:00pm.
After discussing my options with some fellow beekeepers at our annual field day on Saturday I decided to do a paper combine and see if i could reunite the swarm with its parent colony. I opened up the hive #1 and removed each frame and shook the bees into the box, moved behind and away the hive and as my partner Larrisa held the frame I cut out the swarm cells that remained.
2 sheets of newspaper was placed on the top of the bottom box and a queen excluder on top to hold the paper down. Then the 2nd box was placed on top. We then took the swarm that had been in the Nuc box for just over a day and dumped them in the top box with the drawn and empty frames.
We shut the top and hoped that the bees would eat through the paper and combine together and become one again. I also took one frame of fresh eggs from Hive #2 and put it in the top box.
We will check the hives in a few days to see if the combine works.