You probably already know this but they fill up with honey before swarming. They tend to be less aggressive with full tummies. If they have not found a new home after awhile they become a little more easily angered. Nothing a smoker and bee suit can't handle.
For me, time of year is more important. If you're in July, even the capped honey will be too wet to store. In October, the bees will have run out of nectar sources to finish the wax cappings. I rarely checked moisture content and judged by flow rate, if it's stringy, it's dry enough. In the late summer, early fall, I tried to get my honey pulled by state fair time in Ia. Another tell for honey harvest was first goldenrod bloom. These 2 tells usually would get the white honey before the dark, unpleasant, fall honey. Every locale will have a different harvest tell, if your a beek, learn your tells.
Checking for new supers, crack the top and look for new, white wax. If you see a bunch, drop a super. You always try to super with drawn comb, if you can't, pull a frame of honey into the new super and drop the foundation into the old super, do your work in the middle of the super.
About cracking the top, get rid of those stupid telescoping lids. You don't have any benefits except for another piece of equipment to maintain. Pro beeks use a sheet of marine grade plywood or signboard. For the price of one telescope, you can get 8 lids from a sheet of plywood.
Reading top bricks: A brick on edge, perpendicular, means an issue in the hive, undetermined, a brick on edge, parallel, means queenless. a brick on the flat side means everything is fine.
@thecityman, You crack me up. I'm not yet attracted to beekeeping. Maybe later in life. The good news is the folks that came and got the swarm are people I know. I can always go visit the bees and hang out with them. I'd be the type that would be interested to have the entire swarm on my body. Seems strange I'm sure to many folks but I like nature and I would trust all those bees not to hurt me. I just don't know why and honestly I don't know how much danger I could be putting myself in. It's the same with birds. Someday I'm going to stand on my deck close to my feeder and attract birds to swoop in and feed them grubs right from my hand or mouth. I don't particularly like the idea of putting a grub in my mouth but I think it's so cool, separate of course from having a swarm of bees on me, seeing people on youtube have bird buddies and that closeness...
@Auburn, no I didn't know that. A full tummy makes me pretty darn happy, too.
I get you, Dax, and I have JUST the thing for you....somehow I think this will be right down your line if you don't already know about them, and many people don't.
THey make a mask that fits over your face and has flowers and things painted on it and your eyes are covered by two-way mirror/glasses and it has a little hummingbird feeder built in with a tiny flower on front that the birds drink from. So, you go to a place where hummingbirds are used to feeding (like somewhere you have a regular hummingbird feeder) and take a seat. For some reason your body doesn't scare them, only our face and eyes, which are covered up. SO all of a sudden, the hummingbird come right up to your face, 2 inches from your eyes so you can see them better than you can imagine, and they hover and feed. Very, very cool. I know someone that has one and I used it one day and it was a real thrill having those beautiful little guys come right up to you and feed. Here is a short clip of what it is like:
Sweet! On my to do list now.
That is really amusing to me. None of the hummingbirds that have taken up in my yard care about me at all. I haven't seen them this year, but last year every time I watered with a handheld sprayer they would come and wash themselves in the mist.
Hummingbirds will zip past me on occasion or fly right up to me. They're naturally friendly/curious for certain.
I had one fella that loved my sprinkler one day.
So, my bee's swarmed, I think about June 9th. My question is, generally how long after a swarm does it take a new queen to start laying? I looked the other day and the hive #'s are shrinking and there is no evidence of any laying going on. I didn't locate the queen, but did see a number of queen cells that were empty. . .
I got the picture below one day this week when the bees were bearding. Now you can use the saying hanging on by a bee when things are in trouble.
I'd wait another week and examine the brood nest, if you see single eggs placed in the bottom of cells, you have a queen. If you see cells full of nectar or just capped worker brood, you have no queen, combine it with another colony. If you see eggs on the sides of cells, multiple eggs per cell, or drone brood in the middle of the brood nest, you have laying workers. Shake the bees off the equipment and store it in a bee tight place until the winter, scrape off the drone cells and let the bees redraw the wax in the spring.
Unfortunately, I have no other colony, I guess we will just have to hope for the best. Even if another queen does start laying, it's a shame because we lost out on a lot of honey and a very productive queen. On the bright side I learned a tremendous amount and won't make the same mistake next year.
It is a little late for me to say this but in my opinion it is best to keep at least two to four hives. With more than one hive you have several options to remedy a queen-less hive.
Someday when I have a bigger lot I would love to do that. As it is, I am probably breaking the law just having one on my suburban lot. . .
I understand. I have the same situation where I live.
Ditto to what Bill said. First, clear up with city, county officals if you can legally keep bees. Bees are considered an attractive nuisance so in any urban setting they need to be hidden or locked away, like a pool. Most locales are ok with bees.
This goes for all beeks, you need a minimum of 2 colonies, 3-5 better and they don't take but 3 ft sq. This gives you beekeeping options that 1 colony doesn't. Once you spend for the first bees, the next ones aren't nearly as pricey.
I had no idea that some local government's had ordinances against bee hives. That just makes me angry! Seems like passing an ordinance against bee keeping would be done only out of pure ignorance or misunderstanding. Even I have a neighbor who wasn't happy to see my hives, but that doesn't make her right and shouldn't give her or any government the right to outlaw something beneficial AND- from what I've seen so far- very safe. I understand some people are allergic to bees, but I'm not at all convinced that someone living next door to me would be any more likely to be bee stung from one of my bees than a random wild bee.
For the most part keeping bees causes no problems. As always there is another side. A homeowner who locates their hives near a property line is just asking for problems. The neighbor beside you has a right to use their property without getting stung. Just imagine a neighbor trying to cut the grass next to your hive. Also think about a neighbor who has a small child and letting them play next to an active hive. Even on my small residential lot I could keep 4-5 hives and the neighbors would never know. As always common sense in placement will eliminate most issues from neighbors.
I keep mine hidden, I figure what they don't know won't hurt them. . . I actually have the hive located in a less than ideal location just because I don't want someone to see it and complain. Most of my neighbors are great and I know wouldn't care, but, there is this one lady...everyone has one . . . right?
On the up side, my bee numbers and activity seem to be increasing, looks like I have a laying queen again. . .