Swarm 2.0


So, a bit of delay in posting, but spring/summer was calling.  After returning from the wedding we still had bees!  A surprise was waiting however.  The table in front of the hive and the surrounding grass were covered in dead bees.  Hundreds of them.  It was quite a shock.  Normally, one would think of a pesticide poisoning or similar with a sight like that, but that was not likely as we were gone and their are no neighbors close enough for that.  A closer inspection showed the dead bees to be drones.  For some reason, they had kicked out and knocked off the drones.  That, itself, is not unusual, at least in the fall, and can possibly happen if they are stressed for resources.  I have no real idea what the cause was, though.  At any rate, there were still some bees left, but not many.

Did they swarm?  I believe they did.  And I believe they did so pretty close to the predicted time.  Because the number of bees was so low, I think it is likely. I have also observed an open queen cell through the hive window (I haven't been able to get into the hive, though).  You can see on the graph that since then we've sailed on by and are accumulating degreedays rapidly.  What this doesn't show is the real change in weather we had.  While we were gone and well after we returned, the weather was very unstable, wet and cool.  A bad time for swarming!

This has several consequences.  For one, obviously the swarm itself will have a bad time of it, although they may have been fine.  We'll never know.  The remaining bees also have a hard time because they now have a new queen who needs to get out and mate.  All the while, the bees need to collect food, etc.  Stormy weather makes this difficult.  This may be why the drones were sacrificed.

The whole scene was, frankly, pretty depressing.  Checking the bees through the window in the cold weather showed only a small pathetic cluster.  When the weather warmed, though, they showed a fair amount of activity, hitting the raspberries hard and flying off to unknown places.  Time (and a good inspection) will tell.  For now they seem to be recovering and pretty busy.

Meanwhile, we have gotten the garden up and running.  And yes, we do have tomatoes!  Lots of spinach, lettuce and potatoes.  I had a lot of trouble getting carrots to take this year, but upon replanting some again (3rd time) this morning, I noticed several ants happily carting off the seeds I had scattered, so that may be the explanation.  That's expensive ant food!  I'm trying melons too, although the don't seem happy in our soil and they need to grow fast around here.  Worth a shot, though.  The blackberries along the beeyard are about to bloom, so that will be good food for them and us.  Perhaps I've been impatient this year, wanting to get everything going.  It seems like a long slow start, though.  Gardens and bees seem to just take their own course and sweet time no matter how hard I try to predict and promote them.

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