Egypt Pike Bees
We've currently got one hive of bees just off Egypt Pike in Ross County. They sit on the farm of a coworker who used to have bees himself years ago, until he started getting sensitized to bee stings. This site has had a checkered past for me.
I put 5 hives down there 3 years ago which were really just nucs with new queens. This is 15 miles from home, so I needed to have several hives, I thought, to make the trip worthwhile. For one reason and another, none of these did well that year. New beekeepers hear the old-timers say to leave the bees alone and they'll do better. I did that, partly because it's 15 miles from home, and the hives just did poorly. One had wax moths, one had comb all crossed and messed up, one was a drone-layer, and the other two got mean. Sigh...
So I wasn't too surprised, a year ago, when I went down there in late winter to see what had survived and came up empty. I left the two hives there, since the ground was muddy and I couldn't get the truck to the hives anyway, and went about my business. When I made it back down last year about this time, lo and behold, both boxes had swarms in them going to town.
Fast forward to late summer, and time to start getting the hives ready for winter. I got down there about dusk. One hive had superceded, meaning they raised a new queen and booted the old one in the rear. I spotted the virgin queen running around on the combs, no brood, early fall with no chance she would breed and make it through the winter. So I combined the hives and killed the virgin to stop any complications, like her offing the good queen in the other hive. Folks, when I opened the other hive, them bees plumb attacked me. It was almost dark. I had bees crawling inside my shirt, up my pant legs, inside my veil...Blue took a look at me and headed back to the barn. I got about 30 stings but did get the hives put together and shaped up. No way I was going to leave the hive in pieces and have to drive back again next day! On the way home, bees kept climbing out of my clothes into the truck cab, much to Blue's dismay.
I went back in mid-October, and the hive was packed with bees and honey from the asters and goldenrod. Things were looking up. I went back in February or so and moved the hive with Tom's little Kubota front-end loader to a corner nearer his barn and away from his pasture. He's running a few calves in there, and we were afraid they'd knock the hive over, get stung, and start going nuts. I did take a peek inside, and things looked good. I went back a month ago, and they attacked me again. I actually wound up in the barn with my clothes off, shaking bees out from everywhere. NOT a pretty picture to contemplate! (Blue stayed under the truck this time.) But it was a cold, windy, drizzly day (like we've had anything else this spring!) so I couldn't blame the bees too much. I had two brood supers and two honey supers on the hive.
I went back again this morning, and that hive has blossomed. Both honey supers were better than half full of honey. The brood boxes had nice patterns of brood, and lots of bees. I did get a couple of sneak-attack stings in the back, but hey, with this hive, that's not bad. I stuck two more supers on, found the queen, and brought her home with a couple of frames of brood. The plan is to let the bees start queen cells on 3-4 frames in the big hive, which I'll pick up next weekend; raise a new generation of queens from them, and keep the old queen as well. The new queens here at the house should be laying by then, so I can take some of them down to start new hives. Then I'll be where I wanted to be three years ago.