From the Sloops in Oak Ridge: Swarming

About ten days ago, at the apiary inspector training course held in Oak Ridge, Mike Studer mentioned that he had reports of swarming here in Tennessee beginning the second week of February.

We’ve all been watching our hive populations explode and we’ve been doing a variety of manipulations in an attempt to keep our colonies more or less intact. I began expanding my healthier colonies beginning Feb. 5 – starting with expanding the brood areas, adding supers, and rotating boxes every 7 – 10 days.

Today my spouse, Betty, noticed a lot of bees checking out the eve line of our house. About the same time a neighbor asked me to check his house and hopefully explain to him what was going on. In a nutshell, dozens of bees were flying around his roof edge, exploring any and all openings.  These are scout bees and they’re looking for new potential nest sites.

My next box rotation is this coming Wednesday, and I won’t be surprised to see queen cells full of developing queens when I check them. I last rotated six days ago and saw no queen cells, but I’m betting things have changed.

Five of my seven hives have considerable nectar/honey already stored in one super, while another has a full super and two more partials.  So, a word to the wise – check your hives, rotate boxes if need be and put some supers on!

The maple/cherry crop this year is looking to be a door-buster. Also, the plums and cherries have exploded, along with the Bradford and similar lines of pears.  Redbuds are showing color and will be bloomed out by week’s end.

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