Friday, April 27, 2018

OTS Queen Rearing and making successful splits in the Bahamas!!

Many beekeepers I come into contact with are amazed that I am able to make so many successful splits with my honeybees. They frequently ask how I do it. I tell them I use Mel Disselkoen's method. On The Spot Queen Rearing. I was mentored by Mel himself so I have a pretty good handle on how the process works. I was recently invited to the Bahamas to assist a Bahamian newbee split her 3 hives. A fellow beekeeper and myself took the challenge and spent a little over a week on the Bahamian Island of Andros, North Andros to be exact. While there we were able to take her 3 hives and multiply them into 12. We also did a couple cut outs to give her a total of 14 hives prior to returning to the US.
Our hostess wants 50 hives, she is prepared with ALL the equipment already!

The dark brown area in the middle of the building is the entrance for the colony that we are preparing to cut out.

Power tools come in handy :-)

Beautiful comb and colony!

Removing the comb piece by piece.

Bottom row removed, now for the top combs.

Our second cut out. This one was much simpler as we didn't have to remove walls to get to it. The bees had made themselves a lovely little home in the field in the empty boat motor cover.

We decided it would be easiest to work at it if we moved it away from the site by 20ft or more. Less foragers to deal with this way. We put a sheet under it before we moved it because it was 88 degrees and we were worried the combs might detach and fall to the ground when we lifted it up.

Inside the boat motor cover. No combs came detached during the short move :-)
Cutting the comb and rubber banding it into frames. They honey combs were kept separate. We used a bee vacuum to suck up the bees into a hive body.

The queen of the boat motor cover!! Beautiful Big Bahamian Queen!! Bottom edge of the comb. She is twice the length of the other bees and very dark.

Mmmmmm....the bee vacuum. I am not mechanical, but we figured out how to get it together. Uses a shop vac motor and sucks the bees right into a deep body hive box. Very convenient for cut outs. Much easier to work with the combs once the bees are out of the way.

Putting together the bee vacuum.
Walking through the jungle trail  in North Andros, Stafford Creek.

The locals call this a grape seed tree. The bees were all over it, what a contented buzz in such a beautiful setting. This was on the beach at Forfar Field station, across the road from where we were staying.

Honey bee on bloom of Grape seed tree.

Some of our splits at "base camp" The weather was incredible. Never dropped below 70 degrees at night and was up to 90 degrees during the day. Love me some sunshine!!
The dangerous terrain we had to work on.  These are small holes, some so large we could fall in. The locals told us crabs live down in the holes and when it rains in May, all the crabs come up on to land and they have a big Crab Fest on the Island.

A virgin queen in the middle of the comb.

Beware of you screened bottoms. This virgin queen ended up on the underside of the screen and couldn't figure out her way back to the entrance. We had to help her back into the hive.

My helpers, Linden and El Torro, gathered dry pine needles for my smoker.

My best bee buddy, Mary and myself.

Riding in the bed of a truck on the highway holding a hive together from the cut out we did. It's totally normal to see people riding in the back of vehicles here. No laws against it. That was fun.

Getting ready for our last day of bee work in the Bahamas.

Our code names are Heather Bee Blond and Mrs. Bee Mizzle! Yup, we're nuts and loving it!

Never thought I'd be pulling honey frames on April 3!! Only in the Bahamas!! This was our first evening there at dusk.

For fun, I never get to wave palm fronds around in Michigan!

A good morning from our Michigan mitten, our first Bahama sunrise.
Me photographing honey bees working the palms before the sunrise. These bees in the Bahamas have it made!!

What it looked like when I returned home to MI on April 13. Love Michigan!