Checking the Host Hive for Signs of Swarming

Since this colony made it through the winter, I have now been wondering if they are going to swarm this year. If they show any signs of swarming I am hoping to try to split them before they leave. Even though they are my cranky colony, I am still rooting for them to be strong and survive. As for them being cranky, it is only when I am in their hive. They are not causing any problems for the family that is hosting them in their yard.

This colony has been easier to work with this year, but still a bit cranky. I will only open this hive when the weather is warm and the sun is shining. I have done three inspections on this hive in May. Each time I was looking for signs of swarming as well as doing my usual checks. There have not been any signs of swarming yet.

The colony is growing well and during the first inspection in May I moved the colony into two thirds of their hive and opened a second entrance for them. I added five bars for them. They are growing well and the queen is laying well. I spotted eggs, larvae, capped brood, nectar, pollen, capped honey, and the queen. Even with all of the signs that the queen is in the hive or that the hive is queen right, it is still nice to see her once in a while.

After putting the hive back together and closing it up, I still had a couple of angry bees buzzing around my veil. I cleaned up all of my stuff and walked away from the hive. These bees continued to follow me. I walked into the shade, but that did not work. I walked down the street a bit, but that didn’t work either. I walked around a bit more and then decided that I would get into the car in full gear, just in case. I climbed into the car with my full suit and gloves on and then waited to see if there were any bees in the car with me. Luckily, there were not.

During the second inspection in May I only got through about half of the hive. The bees were very cranky and so many were trying to sting me through my gloves and pelting my veil. I decided that it was not worth stressing them any more, so I only checked about half of the bars. I saw everything that I needed to including the queen. I added a couple more empty bars for them.

At the end of this inspection, I put the hive back together and closed it up. Again, I was followed by grumpy bees. They buzzed around my head for a while. I walked around for awhile and went into the shade, but they were relentless. Once I thought the coast was clear I got into the car in full gear again. I don’t want to take any chances of getting stung. In the car when I realized I was alone then I took off my veil for the short drive home and unsuited once I got there.

I went back a week later to check them again for signs of swarming. This time my plan was to work only the half of the hive that I did not check the last time. I also decided to use the smoker. After lighting the smoker I looked in the front of the hive to see what was going on. The bees were very busy, there were a lot of foragers going in and out. I also noticed that they have covered about half of the entrance hole on the left side with propolis. There were no bees coming or going from that door only the center, but there were bees there working to cover it up.

This time I did not see any eggs, but they can be difficult to see when the lighting is not perfect. I was also being a little quick with my looking to try to keep the peace. I did not see the queen this time either. I was looking through the half of the hive that I had not gone through the last time so that may be why.

After this inspection I was able to close the hive up and clean up without being followed by angry bees. It looks like I may need to use the smoker for this colony every time that I open the hive. They seemed more calm and spent less time trying to sting me. Of course, I didn’t get into the brood nest so that could be one reason. I will just have to continue to evaluate their temperament and be prepared.

There were no queen cups at all in any of my inspections. I am hopeful that it means they will continue to stay a while. I don’t really have a plan in place if I do need to make a split, so I am kind of hoping that I can avoid it for now. If it comes down to it, I may just let them swarm and let nature take it’s course. I am not sure that I want a second hive full of grumpy bees to work with. If they swarm and they create a new queen who then mates with different drones maybe they will be more docile.

Messy entrance
Messy entrance
Coming in
Coming in
Window view
Window view
Close up
Close up
Full comb
Full comb
Busy bees
Busy bees
Drone brood
Drone brood
Growing quickly
Growing quickly
Closing the door
Closing the door
Hello
Hello
Met this snake on one of my walks to get the bees away
Met this snake on one of my walks to get the bees away

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