What is better than going to the mail box and opening it up and finding free products that you can USE? Well, for a beekeeper that would be finding free bees. What would be more exciting than that? Finding free bees and the bees hived themselves. Below is my story of free bees:
The winter of 2012-2013 was extremely tough on the bees at our farm. We went into the winter with one very strong colony that made it through until February. February was very cold here in central Kentucky and our bees did not survive. We observed no activity in March and upon an inspection in late March, we found the hive completely dead. The bees were spread way too thin because the queen had started laying and the bees were trying to cover the brood but everyone froze. This is a very familiar story from this past winter. So, we decided not to replace the bees this year because we had way too much to get done on the farm and could not dedicate enough time in the cold conditions to protect them from a similar fate.
In late April, we decided to clean up the location were the bees had been. We took the equipment to the barn and set it up with the plan to go back and check for wax moth damage. If there was none, we could store all the equipment in Para-Moth until next year. However, time goes by and the hive is just sitting in the driveway of the barn.
One early May morning, my husband and I were driving by and noticed a large number of bees around the front of the hive. We commented that there must have been some honey left in the hive and robbers were cleaning it up. A couple of days later I received an inquisitive phone call asking if a swarm would just move in to an empty hive. I answered, yes, but it doesn’t happen very often.
Upon returning home, we put on our bee suits and went to check out if we had bees in our hive. Sure enough, the hive was completely full. This was a double deep hive and was completely full of bees. We were so excited. We were beekeepers again! We went into the barn and removed a shallow super with drawn comb to put on top because the hive was so full.
The hive continues to thrive and keep beekeeping alive on our farm. Just a note: The hive that the bees decided to inhabit was our daughters hive. She immediately claimed the bees and has been checking them on a regular schedule. She said that this was her second chance hive and she was going to make sure that these bees did not die this year. I wish her all the luck!
Nothing better than free bees that hive themselves. SWEET!