I have been pretty sketchy on posting about the bees lately but there has been all sorts of stuff going on. Every year around tax time, I add supers to the colonies in preparation for the honey flow. It’s that time of year when the blooms start and the nectar flows. In the hive, it is a boom time and the period that makes or breaks the bees as well as my honey harvest later in the summer.
This year has been a strange year (as they all have been lately). We had a good warm-up early but then we have had cool temps and rain for what seems like an eternity. The WV Department of Agriculture sent our advisement that they were seeing bees starving this year due to the weather. You see, the queen lays a lot of eggs as it warms in the spring. That makes for a lot of bees and when all goes well, the spring honeyflow coincides and provides more food than the bees can eat…thus stored honey. In a bad year though, the bees still increase in number but the food is sparse….that signals bad times unfortunately. My bees still look pretty good but it will depend on the remainder of the season to know what the end result will be.
Anyhow, my Mom helped me prep things earlier this spring. It was her first time working with me in the bee and I know she enjoyed it even though it was hot, heavy, time-consuming work. Like most people who first see a lot of bees, she got a case of the creepy-crawlies. When I first started keeping bees, I remember feeling like bugs were on me hours after I was out of the hives. She managed her heebie-jeebies pretty well though and we got honey supers in place on the hives.
This was a pretty good swarm year too. I am not aware of any swarms out of my colonies (which is a good thing), but I got a number of calls and was able to capture several swarms around Charleston. I also made a new friend in a local beekeeper. We met at a swarm where we had both gotten a call to capture it. We now pass calls back and forth which is pretty cool. He’s a local firefighter so can’t always get to the swarm calls he receives.
I have pics of two swarms that I caught. As always, I like to pet my swarms (because I am a show-off) before I catch them. Don’t try touching a swarm on your own if you ever come across one. It’s just not a good idea unless you know bees a little. I love catching swarms and it is likely my favorite part of beekeeping. Here’s to hoping this season turns itself around and makes for some great honey!