We are in the midst of hive creation 2021. We didn’t shake packages in 2021 because we knew that we had to do a lot of splitting from our overwintered hives. Packages are usually shaken out of the top box of a very strong hive, and then they need to recover population for a couple of weeks before they can be shaken again or split. Hopefully we can shake packages again in 2022. A few years ago we decided to do packages only when we can shake them ourselves, and this wasn’t a good year for it.
Instead of shaking packages, we’ve been working hard at creating many hundreds of preordered nucleus hives and singles. We have all of the queens installed, and acceptance seems to be going at rates between normal and very good on what we’ve reviewed so far. I think some of them need another infusion of feed to make them secure in their grocery supply before distribution to the beekeepers that will acquire them during the next two weeks. Dandelions are extra large this spring, but the weather has been a little up and down for foraging.
Here is one of the many boxes of queens we used to create the new hive populations this spring.
At the same time that we create hives for customers, we are also creating splits in our equipment for honey production during the summer. We are often so pressed for time leading up to June 1 that we don’t truly maximize the populations to make the most hives possible, but I think we are doing better than usual at that mission in 2021. We really don’t like to have idle equipment that is prone to wax moth infestation during the warm months, so there is a strong incentive for pressing ahead on hive propagation with all the speed we can muster. A healthy double with two boxes of bees can become four hives pretty easily if split in April or early May. Dividing them a few times also helps control varroa mite buildup and makes that part of life easier in the months to come.
On top of it all, we have to watch out for swarm season unfolding in earnest. As long as we get through the double deep hives quick enough we don’t have a problem, but we inevitably lose a few bees to the trees. The hives that are in apple orchards will need swift attention when they are pulled out or they will swarm within a week or two of bloom winding down. This year I did not split them prior to apples, believing I can hold those particular hives in their boxes until after bloom. Below is a swarm back at HQ that cooperated by moving into equipment that we set over the top of the cluster. A second box was added swiftly because there were far too many bees to fit in one box in this swarm.
Overall we’re three weeks into the warm weather race. In early June we should get a breather after the hives are in their summer locations and the surplus honey boxes are atop the hives awaiting a honey flow.