Hello Beeks! So this time of year May/June we are in high nectar flow and foraging season in the Hudson Valley NY. Some of us have just setup new hives and some of us are working with colonies a few seasons out. Regardless this is the time of year to check your frames to see if you are "honey bound". Honey bound is when you have a nice nectar flow and your bees are brining in so much nectar that the frames fill up and the queen has nowhere to lay. When this occurs, the hive could swarm.
If this takes place, check for queen cells and let your hive "re-queen" itself. Make sure there is room for the new queen to lay by either swapping out full frames for empty ones (drawn comb is best). If you do not have drawn comb, try and extract honey from a few frames by cutting off just the wax cappings and draining honey. Leave the drawn comb in place and then reinsert back into the hive for the ladies to get ready for queen to lay eggs. Check back in a few weeks to see that you have a laying queen. To give you an idea of the life cycle of a queen and timelines , check out this chart below.
When doing inspections take note if your new queen cells are open, closed and capped etc. this give you a better idea of when she is going to hatch out. Continue to check your hives to make sure they are not honey bound, as there is some time between the queen hatching, doing her mating flights, returning home and getting the hang of laying her first eggs. Don't disrupt the colony too much as to make the colony feel unsafe and abscond, but keep an eye on if the hive is loaded with honey. Do a full inspection for queen once you feel she she should be back from her flights and laying. If you do not see a queen, this is when you may want to purchase a local queen if possible and re-queen your hive. If you can not find local, down south has queens that can be shipped to your home safely. Install the queen upon arrival. More on this in another post.
Usually these queens are mated queens which once accepted into the hive , should start laying very soon. NOTE: if you have a later season swarm, I would say late June/July. You may want to consider ordering a queen regardless. Late season swarms are difficult to remedy because you want your population and resources in abundance for the fall and winter months. So you may not have the 3 weeks or so to let a new queen hatch out and start laying. REMEMBER - always be thinking of your goals a season ahead to make the best decisions for your apiary! Email us with any questions and join us on our Blooming Beez- Facebook group!