I am excited that Cosmo, the colony that was started from a nuc in June 2014, made it though the winter and is thriving this spring!
I haven’t looked at this colony for about three weeks. I’ve decided that I don’t want to disturb my colonies every week. Most things I’ve read recommend taking a look inside roughly every three weeks. I believe this is the recommendation for established colonies; new colonies typically require more frequent checks.
I try to observe my colonies from the outside at least one day each week, just to make sure nothing seems “off,” and that they are coming and going as expected, bringing in nectar and pollen, like they should be this time of year.
Before leaving for Maui, I wanted to check that they weren’t close to outgrowing their home and add a new box, if they needed mores space. If a colony gets to crowded it can sometimes encourage roughly half of the colony to leave or “swarm.”
Swarming is a reproductive process in which one colony splits to become two. The bees that leave take the old queen with them and the remaining bees are left with a soon to emerge virgin queen. When a colony is thriving, it can swarm more that one time in a season.
Swarming is different from absconding, when a colony absconds, the entire colony leaves with the queen. This is what happened to my Verbena colony in January 2015, after about 70% of that colony died. Absconding is not a reproductive process because all the bees leave, and the entire colony moves somewhere else.
The primary reasons for absconding are overheating, lack of food, and frequent disturbance. It can also be caused by bad odors, parasites, or disease. I think my Verbena colony left because they were starving and I didn’t realize it until it was too late! I hope those bees are living happily in the wild somewhere!
I observed a couple of swarms earlier in this spring and think at least one my have been from this colony. It doesn’t bother me that they may have swarmed, I view it as a sign they are a strong colony!
I had my trusty photographer (aka husband) take some pictures of my most recent hive check. Enjoy the pictures and details of what’s going on with Cosmo!
I hope you enjoyed this post. Tomorrow, I’ll share about my new colony, Zinnia. Have any of you decided to try beekeeping?