Ryan putting together all of our new honey supers. He’s preparing for the harvest, and getting some hive bodies for the new nucs that he’s creating.
We are Langstroth beekeepers, which means we use the stackable box hives as opposed to top-bar hives, and instead of using the shallow honey supers we use regular deep-hive bodies for the honey supers as well as the brood boxes. We didn’t do this for any particular reason, just a matter of choice. There’s only one disadvantage to using deep-hive bodies for our supers: our extractor only fits three deep frames, whereas if we used the shallow supers it would take six at a time. It just makes the harvest take a little longer.
So, it’s still kinda swarm season. Especially if we get more rain, the girls will be raring to go. Yesterday we spied one of our hives exhibiting some interesting pre-swarm behavior. The weird thing is, they’re currently queenless.
This colony is a swarm that Ryan caught late last summer. It was only about the size of your fist, but when he looked in the box there was the queen — with her right wing askew, so he called her “Brokeback.” Well, a couple of days ago Ryan was out in the bee-yard and he came across Brokeback crawling on the ground. He picked her up and tossed her back into her colony, but when he checked a few days later, she was gone.
So we’re keeping an eye on these gals to see what they do over the next several days. But here’s some interesting video to show you how a pre-swarm colony might behave. Notice how the bees come pouring out of the front of the hive. They will cluster in a cloud directly outside the entrance. What you can’t see in this video (because of the angle at which it was shot) is the bees forming a “beard” just below the bottom board near the hive stand.