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The swarm (Brett Kent / For the Enterprise)

Beehive: The honey's coming in; rescuing, acclimating a swarm

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Welcome back to the fourth edition of the beehive. Once again the past two weeks have been very busy in the beekeeping world. The honey flow is on, and by that I mean the bees are filling up the hives with honey stores.

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When conditions are like they have been this last week, a thriving hive can fill up a medium honey super in six days. That's astonishing considering that the bees fly 90,000 miles to make 2.5 pounds of honey and a medium honey super has approximately 30 pounds of honey, when it's full.

This is also the time of the season when you see which hives are very strong and which ones are not so good. It is my job as a beekeeper to investigate the weak hives and try to figure out what's gone wrong, and possibly fix the problem.

I have two hives that were very weak, both having queen troubles. I decided to introduce a new queen to one of the hives about 12 days ago. Once the queen was accepted, I decided to combine this hive, with the second weak hive, which was queenless.

To do this I took a piece of newspaper and poked it full of pinholes. Then I sprayed it with sugar water. I took the cover off of the queenrite hive and covered it with the newspaper. Then I took the bottom board off the queenless hive and placed the whole box of bees on top of the queenrite hive, with the newspaper being the divider. Being that every beehive has its own smell, the pinholes allow the smell of both hives to blend.

The bees can see and hear each other on both sides of the paper. Lastly, the sugar water soaked paper encourages the bees to stay focused on the paper barrier to the point where they start chewing bigger holes through it.

By the time the bees have made the holes big enough to pass through, all the bees smell the same and everyone is everybody's buddy. Now I have made one stronger hive out of two weak hives, hoping to get them jump-started, so they can take advantage of the honey flow.

These past few weeks, I met with two youth groups, a 4-H group and a Community Education group, both from the Park Rapids area. I put on a short beekeeping demonstration for the kids. I have to say, those kids are very smart and entertaining. I hope they had as much fun as I did.

I was also called to rescue a few swarms of bees. I have included a few pictures of me capturing the swarm.

The first picture is of a swarm that was about 15 feet off the ground. This swarm was very large; I'd say about 20,000 bees strong. The second picture shows me on the ladder about to snip the ¾ inch branch off.

I then carried the swarm down the ladder and shook the bees off the branch. Into a deep super, which was in the box of my pickup. The third picture shows the bees in the deep super fanning, as if they are telling me that they are satisfied with their new home.

All-in-all a busy few weeks. Thanks again for your interest.

Please remember to send your e-mails and questions to ssmith@parkrapidsenter prise. com.

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