Sunday, June 22, 2014


Herbie the Wonderdog, in case you had to ask.
Well, it’s been a week. After the Moody Blues and White Outs got too cranky to have in the yard, taking their ire out on man (especially when mowing lawns) and beast (poor Herbie the Wonderdog does not like bee stings), we decided it was time to find them a permanent (for now, because that’s how we roll) location. Thankfully, the longest day of the year held promise for such a job.

On Saturday, a day that started at 6am, we cleared out the area where the bees would call home. We pounded in the posts, stretched the wire, covered the ground with crush, built the benches, and finally, at 9pm, we were ready to move the bees. Luckily for us, the Moody Blues and the White Outs had retired early (being cranky all day is probably tiring). We covered their doors and moved them to their new digs. Team Tangerine and Mellow Yellow, however, were more than content to sit on their front porch and visit. After all, it was the longest day of the year, and the evening was very pleasant. They were still visiting out there at 10 pm, and at 10:30 pm... Finally, being the old fogies that we are, we went to bed before the bees, promising to be up early again the next morning to move the last two hives.

Herbie (the twice bitten but still not shy) Wonderdog woke us at 5 am, apparently anxious for the rest of the bees to be gone. We could see that the Mellow Yellows were sleeping in (thankfully) but Team Tangerine was already starting to buzz. A few pieces of wood and some duct tape later, they too were on their way. We put pieces of wood in front of their porches so they would know that something was different so they would do some exploring flights, but some of those bees were just downright determined to stay in the yard, returning there and gathering where their hives used to be. Fortunately, the Pistachios, being the slowest of the hives, had been left in the yard, put in place of the Mellow Yellows. This was done in the event some of the bees wanted to return to their old home. A lot of them did, and are now calling Pistachio home, but that’s okay. It’s a simple and effective way to strengthen a weak hive.

We noticed though that there were a lot... seriously A LOT of bees returning to where Team Tangerine used to live, as well as some to where the other two hives used to be. What to do? The obvious thing to us was to take a new hive, pull a couple of frames with brood and eggs, and some uncapped larvae from the established hives, slip them into the new one, give them a feeder and some protein paddy, and put it where the stragglers were looking for their home. We now have 6 hives (if the new one creates a Queen)... we’ll call the new one The Dregs.

Having upset their routine so severely, we wanted to check on all the hives. Of course, it has to be the hottest day of the year... hotter than the hubs of hell, as my dear old daddy used to say. We opened up the bottom screens for all the hives, giving them some better air circulation. We opened up their doors, allowing more bees to go in and out. We were thrilled with one hive, disconcerted about another and a bit disappointed in the third. Suffice to say that none of the hives were thrilled to see us!

The Moody Blues had moved onto their first new frame. We took out the feeder, and we removed the protein paddy (okay, we left it out by accident but they weren’t eating it anyway). There were still five empty frames so we sprayed them with a bit of sugar water. We were hoping to see a bit more progress from them.

After closing up that hive, we were thrilled to see what was happening with the White Outs. They still had juice, but we pulled the feeder anyway to make some room for more frames They had five frames with both sides capped with brood! We scraped off the comb they had been making on the lid, because it too was filled with open brood, and put it in the second box. Yup, they had progressed enough that it was time to double their hive size!

Team Tangerine still had their drone frame empty. We removed their feeder because the entire top box was full of... honey! There was no brood there at all, so we decided it was time to give them their third box, a honey super. They can fill that baby with honey to their hearts’ content now. We took one of their top frames of capped honey and moved it to the new box we were starting. In their lower box they had very little capped larvae, but all frames were in use and new larvae, uncapped, was there, so the Queen is back on the job. That was a relief to see, because Queen transactions can be tricky.

Yes, that's honey... lots of honey just as it should be!
The Mellow Yellows have been working like troopers. They have had a honey super (third box) on the hive for a week, and they have already filled four frames with honey. On their second box, the outside frames were empty but the rest was very active with brood and honey. We took one frame of capped larvae to the new hive, and one frame of larvae and eggs. Hopefully the bees in the new hive will feed one of the new larvae lots of royal jelly and turn her into a Queen. They really are incredible animals.

Last was poor little Pistachio. The hive is still in the yard, gathering the stray bees from Mellow Yellow, and it was a busy place today. They still have three untouched frames, some capped brood and still have some juice. We opened the door, and will probably move them to the new area next week.

The Dregs was given a full feeder of juice. They will be a little bit of Mellow Yellow, a little bit of Team Tangerine, and tonight, when the Moody Blues and White Outs stray try to go to bed in their old location, we will have a cardboard box for them to sleep in. Once they are asleep, we will quietly move them into The Dregs as well, so they will have a home. Hopefully it works, but it will be a learning experience nonetheless, and could have the potential to create a new hive – a split (because it comes from pieces taken from already established hives). Welcome to Splitsville!

Angry bees -- for now.
Splitsville -- The Dregs, with all it's new bees.

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