July update

Well it’s been a busy month for both us and the bees.  The nectar flow has been great. The original hive has 2 supers on it, one of which is full of honey and they are starting on the second one.  They have also filled the top box with honey almost entirely which is a good sign for their ability to make it through the winter.  I know, I know, only in Maine would we be talking about winter in a July post, but  the overnight lows are going to be in the 40s in much of the state tonight, and this is the warm season, so you can imagine how much fuel it will take to keep them alive through the cold season.

The middle hive is doing alright as well and they have several frames of honey done in the super. We are almost certain that this hive has swarmed, a few weeks ago there were just a ton of bees in it. The last inspection also revealed many swarm cells as well as one superceedure cell.  While we put out several swarm traps (and old super with lemongrass oil on the picnic table as well as the all-popular beer box hung from a tree) none of them have caught anything.  I didn’t realize how lucky I was to actually see the swarming process last year.  If our girls have left, they did it while we were at work. At any rate there appears to be plenty of them left.

Finally the corner hive, our lazy hive is still slow going.  They have done a bit of work drawing out comb in the upper super which is good. They are just a really slow hive from what we can tell. The bottom box looks healthy, nice brood pattern, full honey on the sides but they just aren’t going very fast.  Despite the nectar flows we added the feed back on top – I know, I know, spoiling the kids, but who wants sugar when there is clover anyways? We were told at the beginning to leave the feed on until they drew out the upper box…. which we didn’t in this case. We left the feed on until the OTHER hive had drawn out the box. Lesson learned, each hive is different.  I think we had a very strong hive off the bat last year, but didn’t know it since we had no comparison.  Now we have small, medium and large hives.

There is one drawback to  large hive(s) which we are about to face- moving.  We have bought a house (yea!) and the bees will move with us.  I seem to take to pets that are hard to move. With a dog you just say “c’mere dog!”  and into the car it goes.  My last pet was tropical fish that had to get left in Utah (to a happy home) as cross-country travel does not suite them.  While many migratory beekeepers would defend cross county travel with bees, we will only be going about 15 miles and I’m not sure I’d want to go further! To cliche it, the first step is hardest,- in this case getting them loaded.  A full layer of honey is NOT light and we estimate the largest hive is almost 200lbs. Our current plan is to move them Saturday night in a U-haul.  While we have a truck, the Uhaul will have a dolly and ramp which will make moving them a lot easier.  (We need the Uhaul for the couch and bed as well, so it’s not just the bees, and furniture will go first, then back for the bees)

We’ll let you know how the move goes! It will be an adventure and hopefully we can have photos.  The camera and computer are both back in order, but between buying a house and moving the spare time to download the process good photos is limited!