Sunday, October 01, 2006


Last spring I was thinking of reviving my beehives, but the cost of packaged bees made me think twice. So, in June when I heard a swarm in the air, I scrounged up some old beehive parts and hurriedly put them near where the swarm was scouting. I knew that the bottom board I'd found in my rush was deteriorating. And, still in a hurry, I put the hive directly on the ground instead of on a hive stand.

Still, happily, the swarm did choose my hive. All summer the bees struggled with the grass growing in front of the hive and I procrastinated about fixing it. Now, with (dare I say it) winter approaching, I wanted to see if the bees have enough honey to survive and to get the hive up off the ground to give them a chance in the snow.

Good thing I checked. They've barely started filling the top super, which should be full before winter if they are to make it through.

If this super were full, it would weigh about 45 pounds. So I move them one at a time.

Knowing that the top super isn't full yet, I can provide some diluted honey for them. They will store and evaporate it just like they do with nectar. So, although we will not get any honey from them this season, I have high hopes that they'll be in good shape to start working early next spring.

Folklore has it that "A swarm in May is worth a load of hay. A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon. A swarm in July isn't worth a fly." The idea is that a swarm in May will have time to get established and possibly provide surplus honey for the beekeeper. A swarm in July won't have time to get settled enough to survive the winter. This swarm was in June. I'm never sure whether a load of hay is worth more than a silver spoon. But these bees, with a little care and luck, will be worth at least the $70 that packaged bees cost.

1 comment:

LauraHinNJ said...

I've been hoping you'd do a post about your bees - very interesting!

My friend who keep bees is never able to keep them through the winter, plus he's had trouble with disease. But the honey they make - delicious!

Hope yours will fare well.