The Turn of a Good Year, finally!
The first day of summer is the the "turn of the year" on the beekeeping calendar. After this point, everything moves from spring buildup to preparation for winter. It is best to not start new hives beyond this point, but to encourage the existing hives to build up as much as possible by providing lots of forage and lots of room for them to store up what they find.
Today I checked all four, yes, FOUR, hives. It is great to actually have that many that are healthy and happy once again. The newest hive was only started four days ago with two frames from my first nuc from Mary Bouma, and a new Saskatraz queen from Oliveraz. I checked today to see if the queen was released. The cage was way empty, no trace even of candy. I only had three frames of bees to check to find a marked queen. You would think that would be quick and easy. Oh yeah, this is beekeeping, nothing is quick and easy! After worrying that perhaps they killed her (why would they?), I finally saw her doing her thing under a pile of worker bees. I gave them a full box of drawn comb and closed them up. I will not be able to check them until our field day on July 14th, so I wanted to make sure they had plenty of room.
Then I moved on to the blue long hive. The entrance was crammed with bees. I removed the entrance reducer and opened the ventilation holes full open. Inside, they were packing the brood nest, but not moving back beyond the first seven or eight frames. So I moved a full frame of honey and a partial frame back and put three empty frames in behind the last brood frame to give them room to expand the brood nest.
Next I checked the other vertical hive that has the first nuc from Mary Bouma. It has filled its bottom deep and seven frames in the medium above it - even after I took out two frames last week. It had and empty box with some drawn comb and some empty frames. I put another box of drawn comb on top of that. They were busy, so since it will be over two weeks before I can get out there again, it gives them lots of room to work.
Lastly, I checked the white long hive. It was started as a late nuc just a couple of weeks ago. It is already out to seven or more frames, working happily and quietly, so I left it alone.
I checked out the surrounding forage and was happy. There were elderberries blooming all over, smelling wonderful. There is sumac and tulip trees, a baby catalpa, lots of wildflowers and even some basswoods getting ready to bloom.
The commercial beekeeper moved his hives back to the two locations near my house this week. He put at least as many as last year. I am glad to be in a place far enough from him that my bees can build up and make honey. Hopefully I am far enough away and he hasn't put any near where my hives are now. It feels good to have a "normal" year for the first time in three years. It's worth driving six miles each way to my hives to have that peace of mind.