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Monday, 27 May 2013

Splitting Up and Moving Out

Not us - the bees! :) This was a busy bee weekend as not only was it time to move some hives into blueberry blossoms, but also to install the new queens who had arrived.  The weekend weather was miserable-  cold and rainy - and not just any rainy, but "heavy rainfall warning" rainy.  Fortunately I am a woman who owns rubber boots and knows how to wear them...
As I've shown before, the queens arrive in individual cages with a few attendants in each cage to make sure she is kept fed and happy on the flight.  The queens come from Hawaii and I always figure it's a brutal shock to their systems to suddenly wake up and find themselves in Nova Scotia.  As beautiful as it is here, our climate is quite different than these ladies are used to.  It was around 13° C yesterday as we worked;  what was it like in Maui, Mark?
I didn't take a picture, but stamped on the bottom of the cage was the word Kona, which of course made me think of Kona cotton and Kona Bay fabrics.  Sometimes it's hard to leave the quilting behind even in the beeyard!  Hubby puts cage and all right into the hive.
The worker bees will chew through the sugar plugs at each end of the cage to release their new queen.   I've written more in this post, so you can read back if you are interested.
Basically, you split the over-full hives into two leaving the old queen in one and adding the new queen to the other.  Problem is, you have to go through all the frames to find the queen to make sure you have one in each colony.  It's no small job to scan for the queen.  It's hours of work sometimes, just to do a few hives.  If you don't find her the first time through, you have to go back over the frames again and again until you spot her.  She moves very quickly so it's a tricky process.

We feel relieved each time we spot a queen in a hive.  Can you see her here?
I'll help you out, Lynn :)
By last evening, we had found and placed all the queens and then proceeded to move the first group of hives to a blueberry field. We had gone out early in the day to put in the bee escapes and secure the inner covers with nails.  I'm amazed there are so many blossoms out in all this rain.  The other fields where the bees go are a bit behind this one, so no doubt they will travel out next weekend.  Here's hoping the sun finds us for the next move.


  1. That's really interesting! The queen is different to the other bees, isn't she......makes her easier to spot, although she's still fairly small.

  2. WHAT a job!! And not a very nice day to do it either! I'm sure those bees are grateful for the good care you give them, as well as the new location with yummy blueberry blossoms and pollen.

  3. I love your bee blogs! You're always talking about splitting large hives - how many do you have and do you have more than you want? What happens then?

  4. Hi, Wendy: If the colonies over-winter well and have a strong population, they will not have enough space to raise new brood, or store honey. That's why you split the strong hives in early spring - to give them room to grow. If you don't...then they will swarm, which is nature's way of splitting the hive. At present we have 15 hives which honestly is more than we'd like, since we both work. 10 is our happy number. Hubby sells the extra hives when the numbers gets overwhelming.