Summer starts – lots of new beekeepers!

Had call to go to a new yard and treat with OAV for a freshly installed package that was showing strong signs of Deformed Wing Virus (DWV). It was way cool to see these new folks so determined and meticulous in their care of their new bees! They’d collected samples – all they could find – from in front of the hive of wings showing ‘wadded up panty hose’ for wings, placed ’em in a jar and kept them on hand for when I arrived. Several dozen! Yea, that’s bad. Built ’em one of the ‘beverage heater vaporizers’, ran out after work, did a treatment and am waiting to hear back on what the mite drop looks like. Just after the treatment I did see 3 mites at the entrance. I’m hoping for a slaughter! I also hope we got to them in time. This could be one of the heaviest loaded colonies I’ve seen.

Have also had a few more ‘bee’ calls. Mostly looking for cut outs and removals. 2 new members of the group, Michael and Danny, have excelled in their willingness to dive in and take care of things! They not only have the enthusiasm, but the skills and tools to get things done. They’re gradually gaining on controlling the feral hives in town.

Still getting lots of folks asking for honey. That’s a good thing! Once this batch of new keepers get established and are able to start sharing with their friends, folks will have locally sourced, community honey. Mmm, this may not be such a good thing for some of our smaller commercial ventures. Those guys make their money by selling to the community – more competition could well decrease their market base. Yea, it’s competition and generally we like that sort of thing. Just don’t want to see any of ’em run off.

Also had the pleasure of giving a presentation to the students at the Wood’s Learning Center. Great bunch of bee learners!! Good questions, enthusiasm and sharp. Those teachers over there have been doing a great job sharing not just life sciences, but beneficial insect basics. Something that’s been apparently lacking in our public education for some time. (evidenced by the general eagerness to spray indiscriminate toxins for pests.) Great time and I’m eager to do more!

Red letter day! 18 May

Yesterday was a red-letter day in that we answered 3 swarm calls – in the same day.

First, I got a call from the finance dept – they had bees. Checked it out, no swarm. But may have been scout bees looking for a new hive location. That building has so many inviting holes, one will move in someday – if they don’t fix ’em first. Did get roof access to ensure there wasn’t a hidden cluster someplace. Nothing found. And by time I’d left, all the scouts had as well. I suspect they may have been from the swarm at the elementary school. It’s only a few blocks away.

Then a swarm call. Turned out to be about 20′ up in a big pine tree in a front yard. Too for me to get to, too many branches to try the rope and shake deal. Called in one of our newer folks and suggested he setup traps and try to lure the swarm into moving into his gear. We’ll see how that goes.

Another call. This one on an elementary school lot. No panic, these folks had some good info. One of our newer keepers in the area helped with that one. We boxed ’em and took ’em to my yard. He’ll be picking them up tonite and take them to his yard out West of town. But, it did come in just before the start of the radio club meeting. Handed off the keys and took care of bees. Sounds like they had a good time at pie ‘n coffee after.

And then another! Just as I was whipping up some evening grub for Toby and I, the cell goes off and sure enough, there’s another swarm. Called the fellow I’d had setup the traps and told ’em to bring his gear. But, we got there about 45 minutes after sun-down. Too dark and they’d already bivouacked for the night. So, he showed up again bright and early the next morning and got ’em hived. Interesting side note, his mother in law from Ukraine is visiting. She’s a commercial beekeeper back home. Also doesn’t speak a word of English. With his wife translating, seems they shared a good time getting ’em all hived up. One comment I heard was along the lines of she’d never seen such a beautiful swarm before.

Bit concerning – we’ve had some off putting weather for the past few weeks. Suddenly gotten nice and they’re popping all over! I expect many more calls in the near future. I’ve already have run out of gear – so they’ll all be going somewhere else. Not a bad problem to have – so long as we can catch them. But I am a tad concerned about publicity. Folks might get a tad worried about so many swarms. There are still many in town who don’t realize we even have bees around.

Many thanks to the crew at Metro Animal control! They’ve taken a few calls and have done a good job at directing folks to us. Big help and much appreciated!

Busy Spring!

Packages have arrived and been installed.

NCBA worked as a group, thanks to Don’s efforts, to order and bring nearly 40 packages from Cheyenne to Casper. In a little over 30 mintues, all 40 packages were distributed and on their way to their new homes. We did have a very few minor issues with queens that didn’t survive. But Prairie Wind Bee Supply more than stepped up and helped out. Nothing but good to say about ’em.

And then – rain.

It’s felt more like Seattle than Wyoming these past few weeks. In the yard, I’ve actually had to empty the rain gauge. That just doesn’t happen ’round here. Well over 6″ of rain in just over a month. Should make for an awesome honey flow!

Yesterday was the first swarm call of the season. I nice, large cluster of about 4 lbs gathered on a lilac branch, heavy enough to pull it to the ground. Was an amazing feeling to slide fingers in the grass to gather a ball of workers and feel the heat. Ladies like it warm!

So, what with packages and a couple other things – the yard is now up to 8 hives. One will be going to a new beekeeper who had issues earlier. Likely this weekend. The other, the swarm, will be going to another local keeper – if they ever call back!

Efforts for education continue – mostly online. There is one grade school visit come’n up shortly. Those are fun!

And last night, my wife and i assembled another 30 frames to fill out the last of our deeps. This should give us just enough boxes to put 2nd brood chambers on the packages. If things take off – like they appear they’re going to – I’ll have to get at last another half dozen or so deeps!

And splits. The 3 colonies that over wintered are just about due to be split. Seems there’s a new (or re-newed) method called “Taranov Swarming”. Yea, another something that’s been around for years, but thanks to the ubiquitous of the internet and social media, is making a resurgence. May have to give this a try, just to see what the fuss is about. Does look to simplify things some!

The rains have finally stopped – for at least a few days. Things are warming up. The lilacs are in full bloom all over town and the green is near Ireland intense. The season is in full swing and it’s looking to be a real corker!