Friday, June 29, 2012

Sweet Summer

-Posted by Isaac

It's been really dry as you know. I don't think we've had a meaningful rain in six weeks. This means that flowers conserve nectar, thereby limiting the summer honey production. This is what I'm seeing in the hives-- some honey, but not a huge amount. I'm glad our hive count is up this year.

Some plants do well in dry conditions. Lavender is one. This is a row Jayne and I planted three years ago:

We went to a lavender festival in southern Ohio a couple weeks ago, and watched women in Sunday dresses snip little sprigs of lavender. For me, it's much more enjoyable to watch our own naked ladies sample the lavender.

                                                 Wow, can she use her tongue!

I was on the phone with Jim North (friend, beekeeper, Jedi master) and noticed a cloud of bees moving over the cornfield. As I watched and talked, I observed that the swarm was directing itself toward one of my very own hives. Walking out there, sure enough, they were moving in!

 I told Jim what was happening, and he said that sometimes you get a "hostile takeover" of a small hive.  That's exactly what I witnessed. This was only a two frame split, and apparently the swarm decided that there was plenty of unused space in there. I checked on them yesterday evening, and the box was full of bees-- swarm bees. We had a few casualties out front, but all in all I think I'll take the swarm.

Speaking of swarms. We caught number thirty of the season a few days ago. They moved into a trap, I brought them home, hived them, and the next day they were out on the limb of a small locust tree. I guess the home I gave them didn't suit. Later that morning I noticed that the scouts were checking out the very box that they had originally been trapped in. So I put the trap on top of the trellis to see what would happen:
 They moved in! Right over top of the fire pit. This makes Jayne a bit leary when we have company, but I think it's a nice conversation piece. Who wouldn't want to watch stinging insects fly home right over one's head?

We're making more splits using Koehnen queens from California. Carniolans. I've been noticing that hives with these queens do much better then the Georgia queens.  Makes me think of that Beach Boys song... "Wish they all could be California... girls..."

Mason helped me with the cork and candy plugs that go in the cages.
Mainly, he seemed more interested in the candy plug.

The bees got a little help from our sweet tooth.

Summer honey is right around the corner.

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