Waded back in the bees today and made another hive out of one in the yard. When they make a queen, I will be up to 10. Weather was nice and flowers were blooming, bees were gentle and calm. I could have worked them today without a suit. Added supers and did some spring cleaning. Honey is being made and hives have wintered this year better than ever since I started keeping bees in 2013.
Sometime between removing the winter entrance reducers and now, field mice have been packing pin oak acorns into 2 of the hives. Entrance reducers choke the hive entrance down to where a mouse can't get in during the winter. There were a few nights that the temps dropped below 40, bees clustered up and did not protect the entrance. Field mice packed acorns out to the entrance board and inside the hive. As temps warm up, the mice would have been driven out by stingers, but the nuts stay. The bees had pushed a few acorns to the front landing board. I cleaned out about 30 to 50 nuts on each bottom board. Busy little hoarders. You would think all of the feral cats around would control the critters!
This year will start to be my fun year with bees again. I am planning on raising spare queens and making a few starter hives. I plan on expanding to a few more out yards and placing bees in several more locations. I have a friend that wants to host a few hives. I hope to spend more time with them and build up hive numbers. Maybe even make some honey.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity again to visit a commercial bee keeper locally. My bee mentor needed a queen and he needed my help finding him. At 95 and over 40 years of beekeeping, he is still going strong. We pulled into the keepers house and drove past a cloud of bees flying around several hundred starter hives on the road in front of his house. I put on a lightweight suit in the truck before I opened the door. My mentor walked around un suited and never took a hit. I had bees bumping me the whole time. This keeper has hives in several states and trucks bees by the flatbed truck load. His son has become involved in the business and raises prime queen bees. His hive count is over 2000 or more in many locations. 100 starter hives were leaving his front yard after we left last night to other beekeepers. We picked up the queen and her attendants in a little wooden box and headed home. By the time we got home, that box was humming like a little engine, a combination of wings fanning and the queen making a strange noise.
Spring is starting in full bloom. Hives today stunk of Bradford Pear, smells like rotten feet. Lots of stuff blooming, red buds, plums, danderlions. Soon the clover will bloom and the yard will smell sweet again as they make the best honey for my use.