This is an update on our bee adventure which started one year ago today by building a Warré hive.
First off, in February of last year I attended the Greater Cleveland Beekeepers Association beekeeping class. There are Beekeeper Classes again this year. I couldn’t find anyone who knew about Warré hives per se, but there are members who have been keeping bees for 40 years and that knowledge is invaluable. I did make a couple of contacts so all around, 2 thumbs up.
After way too much internet research on various bee species and where to order, I decided to get bees from Queen Right Colonies in Medina county. I would also highly recommend them for ordering a package of bees in Northern Ohio. The cost was $75 and we got the call to pick them up on April 30.
Denzil from Queen Right Colonies did a demonstration of a bee drop a week before our order arrived, and other than Annabel getting stung, that also was utterly invaluable. I was pretty nervous about dumping the package of bees into our new hive, but Denzil made it look so easy I started our attempt with confidence.
Here is a video of the whole bee drop. I doubt I will use the silly hat in future.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2khdeTYPSHA&hl=en&fs=1&]
Here are some shots of the girls right after the drop. And that is one proud looking hive!
After only 9 days in the hive they produced what seemed to be a ridiculous amount of comb.
We cracked open the hive to verify the queen was alive and laying eggs. This was on the advice of our bee mentor, Andy, whose help was priceless. Also, we refilled the quart jars of sugar water we were using to feed the bees.
One day in July I was hoeing on the farm and noticed an inordinate number of bees flying over head. SWARM! Oh man, what an experience that was, watching half of the bees exit the hive in about one minute. The bees “poured” out was exactly what it looked like. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of the event, since they caught me off guard. Also we were unable to catch the swarm since we were not ready, but if it happens again we are ready and I think we can manage the hive to prevent a swarm this coming year.
I was quite concerned the remaining bees would not recover before winter, but by the end of August they were looking quite strong. On very hot days like this we usually had significant bearding. They seemed to be storing honey in the top two boxes and not building any additional comb in the bottom box, so before winter we removed the bottom box since that would have just been extra space they would have had to heat.
Here is the hive mid-winter. That is the best picture of the inside I could manage. There are a number of dead bees around the entrance, but on warm days they are active and even flying outside the hive. We are pretty hopeful they can make it to the spring. Yet I will probably feed them some sugar water soon as I think their reserves are running low.