For folks looking for 2012 queens, I have a good number of Carniolans and Italians available. My Iowa-raised queens won't be mature until June/July/August, but I have these others that I use for splitting season for $24 each (plus shipping if they are not picked up at my place.) See our queen page for contact info. The page
hasn't has been updated for 2012, you can contact me to make an order.
It has been a remarkable spring so far. The bees have been brooding up since February, and our only stretch of typical spring occurred over about three weeks of April. March was warm and dry, April cooled down and gave us some rain, and now mid-May is looking rather like July. We've had a few days in the upper 80s and the grass is drying out fast. Farmers planting soybeans have a cloud of dust trailing their field machinery.
All of this is to say that the bees are happy. There was a bit of a hungry spell after the dandelions finished their early bloom, but now the clovers are opening and the parent colonies are starting to move into the honey boxes. I don't have boxes full of honey yet in most locations, but I need to check what's going on at Bass Farms. There is a state park across the road from that location, and they gathered about sixty pounds per colony before any of my other hives were really going last year.
But before the honey boxes could go out, we had a lot of bees to split into new hives. Here are a few images that show some of the process that Alex has been engaged in on the Lynnville side of the operation:
First, we go out with some empty deep boxes that we'll split into. Our usual system is to shake the bees off three frames of brood, and then place those frames in a box on the parent hive over an excluder. Then the bees come onto the brood but the queen stays behind (without having to search for the queen). You can see the excluders at the right of the truck in the picture below.
Then we load up the splits. Here are 24 of them sitting on stackable moving boards. There are notches in the front of the boards to keep the splits ventilated during transportation. Each row of splits is sitting on its own board that is a single row and three-wide (it looks like each board covers 12 splits in the picture, but that's not actually the case):
Here's another picture to make the arrangement clearer:
And here is what some of those single-box splits look like after arrival at their permanent location and placed on 4-way pallets. It's an easy way to handle small hives in the springtime without hauling around the forklift.