I love watching the bees as they come and go from their hives, especially during the first pollen collection of the season. Recently when we had a nice, warm day I went over to the host hive to see if the bees were out flying. The hive was in the sun and there were a lot of bees out flying. As I got closer, I saw that there were many bees coming in with their pollen baskets full! Some of the bees looked like they were so excited when they were collecting the pollen that they rolled in it. They were completely covered with pollen.
The skunk cabbage was in full bloom and the bees were enjoying every bit of it. The dandelions have also started to bloom, so there is a little variety for them. I was so happy to see so many bees out flying and so much pollen being brought in to the hive.
The bees bring pollen in to the hive to feed their brood, so it is a good sign to see them bringing the pollen in. I am hopeful that there is a healthy queen and healthy colony. The colony is growing and looking good at this point. The weather is fluctuating a bit, but hopefully it will not affect them too much.
It is still to cold to open the living area of the colony. I do not want to break the propolis seal yet. I will wait until after I install the two new colonies before I inspect this hive. I will continue to check on them by watching them fly and looking in the window. They have not touched the jar of honey that I put into the feeder. I will take it out when I inspect them. By then, they should be collecting enough pollen and nectar to feed everyone.
I am wondering if I am going to need to split this colony this year. I don’t want to take drastic measures to prevent swarming, but I would love to keep this queen. I do not agree with clipping a queen’s wings or with cutting off queen cells to try to prevent swarming. Bees swarm as a natural reproductive process and I don’t want to interfere any more than I have to.
I could let them swarm, but this queen made it through a Massachusetts winter. Even though it was a mild winter, it was still winter. I also don’t want any of the neighbors in the area to be bothered by a swarm of bees. So many people do not understand swarming and they get very upset. It would be highly possible that these bees would swarm into the conservation land that is not far from their hive. In that case, they wouldn’t bother anyone.
So far I have not decided what I should do. I will need to decide quickly in order to make sure that I have the supplies that I need. I will need to get a top bar nuc and another hive. I also need to do some more research on splitting. The current issue of Bee Culture magazine (http://store.beeculture.com/beekeeping-your-first-three-years-summer-single-copy/) has an article on second year top bar beekeeping. I found this link in a tweet from Christy Hemenway of Gold Star Honeybees. I have not ready the article yet, but I plan to soon.
With the nice weather that we have had, there have been bees helping themselves to the leftovers in the Langstroth hive. I have asked Best Bees to come and pick up the hive since I will not be using Langstroth hives. My goal is to focus on horizontal top bar beekeeping. In the meantime, the Langstroth hive is sitting on the patio open for visitors. When the days are really nice it looks like we might have a colony of bees living in the hive. They are eating well while there are here. Best Bees will be picking up the hive soon, but while it’s here I am happy to let the bees get their fill of honey.