Bees, Honey, and Nature Rules
We are getting back into the swing of moving bees. A lot of hives got stuck in my hayfield for a few weeks longer than desired due to the crazy rainfall of the past several weeks. There are still some locations too soggy to reach. I have one yard where the bees are on their own for another week despite my efforts to get close enough with the equipment to do some good. There is plenty of work to do in a bunch of other places though--especially since we're supering and moving bees at the same time at this point. Andrew is always ready to help with the smoker :) Good lad!
Here is Alex loaded up with a bunch of hives that will be foraging in Central Iowa this summer. It feels great to get them where they belong!
At the same time that we're moving out the hives, we have to super them and get more supers on the hives already on location. Nature has a way of catching up after "slow" periods where the bloom is delayed. Right now several of our best honey plants are opening, and there is enough warmth and moisture to help them yield. Black locust is a few days into bloom at the moment, and Dutch clover looks quite promising as it enters substantial bloom too. Trefoil is open in a few places. Usually locust is spent before those last two flowers are showing much in the way of blossoms. I'm suspecting that basswood will come a couple of weeks early if we have reasonably warm temperatures. Weather always makes things change so quickly in the bee calendar! We're continually adjusting.
Some of the yards are putting on some good weight. It remains to be seen if they will poke it into the surplus boxes or just cram the broodnest. That is the eternal question with the late May-early June honey flow when it materializes. For now, it's nice not to have to feed the bees anyway! Here is some fresh comb with sweet 2019 honey inside!
It is also the worst swarming year I've seen in over ten years. The hives with overwintered queens are getting primed to fly the coop despite brood boxes that are often not terribly heavy or 100% full. I've caught several swarms and split the boxes on others that were still in pre-swarm mode but on the verge of departure. Hopefully the queens from those boxes mature successfully and earn a crop as well. Sometimes those split colonies from doubles containing cells have very large surpluses, though it always feels like a huge gamble when pulling the boxes apart. We will see how it goes.