Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bee Keeping 101 (Part 5)

Check out parts 1, 2, 3 and 4!

Splitting the Hive

In the spring the bees have a natural tendency to expand and they with swarm. This is not swarming to harm as seen in some movies and tv shows. 

The queen and half of the workers will leave the hive and go en masse to a location such as a tree branch or side of the house. From there, scouts will be sent to find the best location for their new home. 

Some bee keepers will have an extra hive with bait (sugar water) to attract them if they swarm. The bees tend to be very gently and can be tapped into a bucket and moved to a different hive.

You can also manually split the hive in the spring (this is especially helpful if you have lost a hive over the winter) and you want to do this before they swarm. To do this, pull 2 frames of eggs and a couple frames of honey and place in new hive. 

The new set of bees will be in turmoil for a time but the nurse bees will then feed special enzymes to babies in order to create a new queen in a very short time (sorry, I forget the exact amount!)

Protecting Your Bees

One benefit of registration with the state and also joining the local beekeepers association is notification of spraying for mosquitoes, flies, etc. 

Since bees do not fly at night, close the entrance to the hive with wire cloth (with holes too small for the bees to escape) the evening before the spray day and then re-open it the day after.

If there is any other spraying going on from companies, ask for the MSDS sheet and try to be there when they spray to encouraging spraying as little as possible.

On a personal note, you should also avoid using bug sprays and pesticides on your property and avoid planting genetically modified crops (as the pesticides and literally within the crop- including the pollen and nectar which the bees eat, as their stomachs will explode after eating).

The wire cloth is also beneficial during the winter to keep out mice from the hive. However this wire cloth needs to have holes large enough for the bees to get out in the event of a nice day but small enough that mice cannot fit inside.

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