Commonwealth Journal

Features

May 15, 2013

Honey of a Tale

You can beelieve this ... We're not pollen your leg

(Continued)

“It takes about a 10-gallon space (for a hive),” said Tucker. “(Bee) scouts actually walk around inside the space to measure. When scouts find the right location the swarm moves in.”
Before cane sugar became in common use, every farm had hives of bees, Tucker recalled. “If you wanted something sweet, you went to the bees.”
Tucker has about seven beehives. He said winter loss of bees for members of the Lake Cumberland Beekeepers Association is about 25 percent.
“We’re doing well,” said Randy Ison, president of Kentucky State Beekeepers Association. He said winter loss of bees statewide to parasitic mites and small hive beetle, a relatively new pest, is about 22 percent.
Loss of bees is made up in the spring by artificially splitting hives. “We buy a queen and split a hive, putting part of the bees with the new queen,” Ison explained. Also, he said a complete hive of bees and a queen can be ordered and delivered, he said. Ison has about 10 hives of bees.
Old-timers would watch this time of year for their hives to swarm. The bees would come out circling, filling the air during flight from the hive.
Often, the beekeeper would make clanging sounds or toss dirt among the circling bees to “settle” the swarm, likely on a nearby limb. He would have an empty hive ready and would shake the swarm from the limb onto the hive.
The queen would run inside the empty hive and the workers would follow, creating a new hive. This ready made accommodation would take the place of a distant destination located by the scouts.
In at least one case on record, the circling queen lit on the beekeeper’s hat. He stood perfectly still while the swarm formed on the brim. Then he walked slowly to an empty hive and shook the bees from his hat at the entrance.

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