THE BEEHIVE: Welcome back to the beehive
It has been a long time since I last wrote a column, so I'll introduce ourselves to any new readers. For those of you that have have read this column before, thank you, and just know, we appreciate you. So here we go.
We are Brenda and Brett Kent of Park Rapids. We are both retired from our career jobs, and have continued on with our hobby of beekeeping. We have several bee yards located in and around the Park Rapids area. We have been keeping bees for approximately 10 years. We have taught a few beekeeping classes for the Hubbard County University of Minnesota Extension folks, and have done several public speaking events for area church groups, 4-H, weekly Scout classes at Camp Wilderness and lake association groups.
We have a love for honeybees and enjody sharing our successes and failures by telling our stories in this forum. We usually focus on beekeeping, but we occasionally mix in a story on our other business ventures, such as wild ricing, maple syruping and any other boondoggle adventure that I can talk Brenda into. Our goal is to give the reader a chance to learn how special honeybees are, and we throw in a little humor along the way.
Here is where we stand for this year: The 2018 honey crop is in critical stage. Things have looked very promising this summer, up until this latest dry spell. The honey crop is dependant on the available ground moisture. As the rain amounts dwindle, so does the honey yields. If the rain is plentiful, and the wildflowers continue to bloom, the bees continue to make more honey. If we continue to get more high temperatures, and limited rain amounts, honey production will be over. If that happens, we will have just a fair yield. Stay tuned.
About two weeks ago, Brenda and I were approached by Scott and Patty Disney at the farmers market. Scott said that a swarm of honeybees had moved into the wall of his woodshop, about 10 days ago. We went over to investigate later that afternoon. Boy, Scott was not kidding. I told Scott, that if he was serious about getting the bees out of the wall for good, I would have to cut the siding away and remove the honeycomb. What had happened here is that, a few years ago, a swarm of bees had made this wall cavity their home. They had since died off and a new swarm had moved in this year. Bees were attracted by the smell of the honey and wax left behind in the wall.
So, in this situation, if Scott, or any other homeowner, just sprayed the bees and killed them, this would continue to be a recurring problem. Now in Scott's situation, he wanted us to rescue the bees, so he gave us unfettered permission to do whatever it took to save the bees.
As this job continued to get bigger and bigger, it was very evident that Scott was a true friend of the bees. As we continued to cut away the siding, and expose the enormous hive, Scott was right in the thick of things, helping and learning about the bees. We cut the honeycomb out of the wall and rubber banded it to empty beehive frames. These chunks of honeycomb were full of unhatched bees, called brood. We then placed the banded frames of brood chunks into an empty hive body. The idea is that once the bees are introduced to the new hive box, they will glue the brood chunks to the frames, with propolis.
We were able to remove all the brood comb, then about 30 pounds of pure honey comb. If you see the Disneys, you will have to ask them if they enjoyed the surplus honeycomb.
Anyway, we then let the bees calm down, and returned a few hours later. We then used our bee vacuum and removed the rest of the bees.
The success of this whole operation is dependent on one thing: We had to get the queen. We vacuumed up about 90 percent of the bees, hoping that we had the queen. I moved the bees in the hive box and the vacuumed bees to another bee yard. I let the bees out of the bee vacuum in front of the hive box, which have the brood frames in it. Being it was dark and raining, the clump of bees — about 12,000 strong — just began to move towards the entrance of the hive box. The bees systematically entered the hive box. What a relief. I assumed we had the queen as the bees seemed to happily take up residence in the new hive box. It was our plan to give the bees a few days to settle in, then we would open the hive up and search for the queen.
Three days later, we located the queen. Turned out to be a job well done. You can view a set of five videos we made and posted on our Double "B"ee Honey Facebook page. We want to thank the Disney family for giving us a chance to rescue these bees.
As always, thank you for your interest, take care.