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They weren’t suppose to….

I set up our first bee colony on May 9 this year and have been doing everything by the book ever since.  I have been feeding them since I set them up.  The instructions said I should feed them for at least 6 weeks or until they no longer take the sugar syrup.  Some instructions even advised feeding them until August.  They have been finishing whatever I give them, once a day lately.  They forage simultaneously.

By my third inspection, I found plenty of bees in the hive.  The super on top of the brood box was also more than half full.  I decided to add a third super, with a queen excluder set between the second and the third super.  I thought the queen would have enough space in the bottom two supers to continue laying eggs.  At the same time I found a couple of queen cells in the second super.  They looked more like supersedure cells.  I thought I might have smashed the queen by accident, or she wasn’t well so they ‘re trying to raise a new queen.

But this morning, about to leave the garage on my way to work, what to my bloodshot eyes should appear?  A huge swarm of honeybees outside in the clear.  They soon coalesced on a tree branch about 20 feet too high for me to reach.  Nuts.  Lacking a very high ladder or a bucket truck, I was out of luck for reaching them.  The hive split, we still have a viable hive, but it’s smaller now.  We hoped to recover the swarm with their new queen but the only option open to us was a bait box sprayed with lemon grass scent in hopes of luring them in.  It didn’t work.  They hung onto the tree branch covering their queen protectively for about two hours while scouts searched everywhere for acceptable real estate.  Finding something they evidently liked, the swarm left en-masse, not to be seen again.

I thought they weren’t suppose to swarm in the first year.  It’s just two days short of two months and half of them decided to leave.  My friend at work told me, when I called to let her know that I need a day off, that they were too well fed so they populated faster than usual.

I’m still trying to figure out why?  The queen excluder I put in between the second and the third super?  Would they leave if the queen was able to lay eggs on the third super?  Anyway, I’ve stopped feeding them now and am debating whether to harvest some honey from the third super since most of the frames are full.  I’ll decide when I make the next inspection in a week.

Hanging out on the Maple tree 20 feet above the hive.

There are far more bees now than when I purchased them, and this is only half of the population.