Bees and spring

What a beekeeping journey this Spring has been. Characteristically cold, cloudy and rainy days mixed with sunny 65⁰ F days. The dandelions are starting to bloom now, a sure sign the nectar flow has started. The hives are loaded with both bees and brood – perfect for Spring nuc production. The plan, launched in January when queens were ordered, was on track.   Queens due on Thursday, divide them up between the other beekeepers, make nucs over the weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

For me beekeeping teaches problem solving and flexibility. The first thing to go wrong was the disappearance of the queens into the untraceable world of USPS. They resurfaced on Monday a good bit worse for the delay which shifted my plan into recovery mode. I made nucs each evening until it got too dark to find queens and see brood. I’m flexible.

The other beekeepers no longer wanted their order creating the plan’s second malfunction. This problem solving opportunity let me for the first time, to try banking caged queens. The process I used is simple – put them, cage and all, on top of the frames in a hive, add a spacer and close the hive. Having never done this I asked several other beekeepers if they had better suggestions and found that this process is routinely used by queen producers when they need to store extra queens. Some recommended that the hive used to bank queens be queen-less and also not have any eggs. Others suggested using a queen excluder. I did neither.

I was told by one beekeeper I could store queens for several weeks. Time will tell. Updates to follow.