Its been a few weeks around here since we helped relocate two local swarms to Prineville Honey Bee Haven. Each morning the newest members of the family have been fed a fresh jar of sugar water to help them transition to life beyond their original hives. We've also tried not to interfere with their settling in and have only opened each hive just a few times. It takes a monumental effort to start from scratch and establish a new hive home.
We decided to keep the swarm captures in these nuc boxes until they showed steady enough growth to move to a larger hive in the honey bee garden. The last inspection proved that these girls are tenacious builders and ready for a bigger home.
One of the challenges to a swarm catch and the establishment of a new home, is the possibility that the honey bees may build various shaped comb. Our frames are foundationless here on the farm and this allows for some "creativity" on the girls end. As a beekeeper, you want the comb to meet size requirements for the hive and sometimes have to work to adjust the newly formed comb to fit correctly. Notice how white this new comb is.
A trick you can use as a beekeeper is to borrow unused comb from another hive and to attach it to a foundationless frame with string to help give the girls a head start. Within a few days they will attach the comb themselves and make every effort to remove the string. It is important to get the string out as quickly as you can, as the bees can get caught in it and eventually die.
Now that we know the new swarm catches each have a queen and progress checks show freshly drawn comb, eggs and food stores, the next step is to ensure that each of the swarms have a large enough space to expand the colony and to check on them regularly. As the nectar flow comes on in the next few months, sugar water won't be needed at all. The girls will end up simply ignoring that it is even there...the real stuff simply tastes much better.