When the warmer weather arrives in Spring, bee colonies undergo a period of rapid growth. The number of bees build up substantially in the hive until the population reaches maximum capacity. The colony will then split and swarm. About two weeks before the swarm occurs, six to twelve new queens will be produced along the bottom edges of the brood combs within distinctive peanut shaped cells. Worker bees place the old queen on a diet to help her slow down egg production and lose weight so that she can fly. Just before they swarm with the old queen, the workers gorge themselves with honey from their stores so that they have the energy to find a suitable location and establish a new colony. When they decide it's time, the bees pour out of the hive by the thousands with the old queen. The youngest and the oldest bees are left behind. Have you seen a swarm hanging on a tree before? It looks frightening but they are the most docile at this stage because their guts are full of honey and they want to use their energy to find a new home. Here is a picture of a swarm we collected recently. They are now happily re-homed in our apiary! If you live in the Wollondilly Shire and see one of these wonders of nature, message us to organize a collection.
What beekeepers do in the colder months
During the cooler months of the year, bees will reduce their activity to conserve energy. It's the perfect time for beekeepers to build and prepare their equipment for Spring. Bees will rapidly build-up their populations at this time so a wise beekeeper will be prepared with additional hive bodies called 'supers' (used exclusively for honey), lids, bottom boards and frames with wax foundation to place on top of each of the brood boxes. The brood box is where the Queen is laying her eggs. Timing is important because we must get the 'supers' onto the brood boxes before the bees run out of room or else they will swarm! But all of the work is worth it in the end because it means more honey for everyone!
Page 1 of 2