As we welcome the Summer Solstice, we celebrate our second month of beekeeping at the Cathedral. Over the last two months, we have witnessed our colonies grow in leaps and bounds. Last week we placed the first honey supers on our hives and are well on our way to having a honey surplus this season, a major accomplishment for new hives when you consider that bees must visit two million flowers to produce one pound of honey!
During the first few weeks, the hives were inspected weekly as we monitored the progress of the colonies. Our resident beekeepers searched for eggs, larva and capped brood, all evidence of a healthy, laying queen. The colonies were initially fed sugar syrup, a supplement used to stimulate wax production until the hive is strong enough to bring in enough nectar and pollen on their own. We spent most of this time honing our skills of recognizing brood vs capped honey, nectar, pollen, drone brood and even spotted queen cups. And yes, we discovered that one of our hives had swarmed.
Part of the natural expansion process of honeybees is called swarming. This happens when the colonies grow quickly and run out of space inside the hive. During a swarm, the original queen leaves the colony with around 30% of the worker bees, a combination of nurse bees and foragers, to a new home that was selected by a scout bee days in advance. The scout bee selects an area that is habitable and excretes a lemongrass like pheromone that marks the location for easy discovery by the swarm later. Don’t let the term, “swarm” scare you. This cluster of bees is completely harmless and non-aggressive. Back inside the hive...(Click here for full article)