Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Winter Recap and SWARM!

Well, it's been almost a year since I wrote, wow! I wrote lots of posts in my head, but they never quite made it to the screen! 2013 was a good year for the bees, until winter hit! I went into winter with 9 hives, most of them looking pretty strong. We had a brutal winter, with lots of snow (3rd snowiest ever I believe) and sustained cold temperatures. It was really hard on the bees (and on most people I know!) and I ended up losing 6/9 hives! One hive just up and left in the fall, a couple of others had a population crash and were too small to survive the cold. One hive died in late winter/early spring due to a cold snap that lasted almost a week. The Birthday Swarm hive didn't survive, but the Oscar the Grouch hive did! All-in-all it wasn't quite as disheartening as last winter's mouse debacle, but still pretty upsetting. The silver lining was that all of those dead hives left me LOTS of honey!

I had resolved not to  purchase any bees in 2014 and I was doing alright until I learned that Sam Comfort of Anarchy Apiaries was bringing a load of his bees to Philly. I have always wanted some of Sam's bees but had never made the drive to his place in the Hudson Valley to pick some up. But now that he was bringing bees to us, well, I decided to buy one little ol' package of bees. This brought my total going into this spring to 4 hives. I had also resolved to consolidate my apiaries because having 5 sites was too much for me. So, I am no longer keeping bees at The Spring Gardens or at Strawberry Mansion. Now I have one hive at my house, 2 at Field Street and 2 at Woodford Mansion.

That brings us to the first swarm of 2014. I got a call at 5pm on May 12th about a swarm in South Philadelphia (thanks to Lynn for calling!). I loaded up the V-dub and arrived to see this -

Swarm hanging out, nice and low!

This was a pretty large swarm. The bees were super calm and content just hanging out there. They had just arrived a few hours earlier. I had a big crowd of people watching me, cause hey, it's not every night that you see such a crazy sight on the streets of South Philly! One guy Robert, took a bunch of video (thanks Robert). Here I am shaking the bees into my swarm catching box -

Get in the box already girls!!

And one other video from Robert - this is after closing everything up and then discovering a large bunch of stragglers clinging to the underside of my swarm box that I needed to get inside the box; you'll see me dumping them in. As I mentioned before, this was a large swarm -

I got 99% of the bees into the box and drove them home (no, they didn't get out this time!). They spent the night in the swarm box in my yard and in the morning I took them to my Woodford Mansion apiary and set them up.

All sealed up, ready for placement

Removed bottom of swarm box and placed on hive stand

Top of swarm box is off

Getting comfy in the new digs

Sittin' on the stoop, just like in Southie!

So there you have it - a recap and a new start. Looking forward to a great year in 2014 - I'm actually happy to have fewer hives to manage, it feels more relaxed to me and I can take my sweet old time with the bees.

1 comment:

  1. Hi I am pretty sure that I have a beehive in my porch roof. Two weeks ago I saw a few, didn't pay it any mind. I went on vacation came back yesterday with a note in my mailbox from the mailman saying I have a beehive growing in the roof. If you are interested in removing them please email me at emileemorgan@hotmail.com. Thanks!