Spring has been a slow arrival. March and April have been very rainy with the sunshine sprinkling our face on only a few occasions.
Spring marks rebirth and awaken. The honey bee is no exception. As the warmth dominates the urge to swarm increases because the queen bee is laying up more eggs. In a given day she can produce 1500 or more eggs which she purposely deposits in each cell. Within 21 days one frame of eggs will easily cover two frames. This produces a rapid increase in population and crowded conditions within the hive. The colony responds with preparations to swarm or reproduce itself. As more and more pollen and nectar are gathered the queen will deposit eggs in queen cups. When the timing is right the worker bees begin to extend the feeding of royal jelly to the select eggs in the queen cups which are now queen cells. Just prior to the emergence of a new queen or queens, the resident queen will leave with roughly half of the colony to take up residence somewhere else. Spring management is vital if one is to keep their bees. I’m constantly learning the art which demands a keen awareness of what the trees and plants are doing along with local weather patterns in relationship to the bee colonies.
If there is one thing I have learned in beekeeping it would have to be flexibility. Along with being able to think and navigate on ones feet. You can go in with a plan but often the the bees didn’t get the memo. That’s when you have to remain focused on the desired end results with adjustments.
The weather with my upcoming schedule hasn’t cooperated with my plan to graft queens. I was forced to make up the starter colony by packing a load of nurse bees into a five frame nuc box in the rain . The nuc colony is made queenless to induce the urge to make queen cells. The day after which was yesterday I made the grafts (another rainy day) and then placed them in the queenless nuc. Tonight is suppose to get down into the mid 20’s. The remaining days will be more seasonable. My thoughts had to go into ‘keep the bees’ warm mode. So I double wrapped the little hive with Reflectix along with additional insulation under the top cover inside and out. This should sufficiently allow them to get through the cold night without any stress.