Bee-wildered

The bees have continued to bewilder this summer.

The package has swarmed 4 times, except I think it was twice. Both times a grapefruit sized swarm came out, and then, I think went back in, and a larger swarm came out.

The second time was last week. A tiny swarm popped into the forsythia bush. I hived it in the woodenware from Pitcher mountain. Then on Thursday, when we were trying to get ready for the hurricane, it swarmed again, also into the forsythia. There were more than twice as many bees this time.

I was going to put it next to Monday’s swarm, but when I got back there, there were literally two bees in the hive and the honey I left hadn’t been touched. So I hived this swarm in the same place, and this crew seems to have settled in.

Note, I have read that this behavior pattern can result from a clip-winged queen, which these girls may have. The abortive swarm will find itself without a queen and go back to the hive. Then a few days later, they will swarm with the first of the new queens to emerge. This would also explain how Lisa’s hive in town could be queenless. If they swarmed with a virgin, she could have failed to return from her mating flight.

But wait, there’s more. When Jeremy’s wedding got delayed yesterday, I went out to harvest our honey before the hurricane. There was none. The May split has possibly 2 frames. The other four supers were completely empty. I was all worried about getting the bees out of them. No problem. I laid them on the ground, and the bees left, there being no reason to stay.

This is crazy. It hasn’t been a great year, but it should have been an ok one. Our foraging bees have been conspicuous by their absence all summer, although there are plenty in the hives. Which smell nicely of honey, BTW. Today, now that the supers are gone, they are foraging everywhere. Hopefully they will at least fill up the hive bodies this fall, since I will have to buy sugar to feed them. Four hive means a minimum of 400 lbs of honey to get through a New Hampshire winter.

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