Well, I was going to open this post with something about that Dire Straits song, you know the one with “Walkaway, walkaway” in the words.
Except it turned out to be the lyrics were actually “rock away, rock away” in “Tunnel of Love.”
This is a classic example of a mondegreen, or misheard lyric. More examples are here, and I’m sure if you’re honest, you’ll admit (at least to yourself) that you’ve had your own experience with mondegreens. If I can confess, you can too.
Anyway, part of our bee work today was making a “walkaway split” from OH, Girls. This is the hive that was formerly known as California Girls before earning their new name by successfully overwintering in a cold Ohio winter.
Yes, I know we split them once already in mid-May, but in our last check, the hive was overflowing with bees despite having two deep boxes and three honey supers on.
Also, there were many (many!) queen cups, some that seemed to have larvae in.
It turns out we were wrong about the larvae in the queen cups, but there were even more cups this time, and tons of brood.
This new queen is one busy female!
Too bad we didn’t see her today.
The plan was to split the hive, moving the “old” queen to the split, and leaving eggs and queen cells/inhabited cups in the original hive.
Despite the “old” queen not really being old (since she was made from the split six weeks ago) and despite the queen cups being unoccupied, we still needed to split this hive before they began making swarm queen cells for real.
So that’s what we did.
We split the two brood boxes into two separate hives, added an empty brood box with waxed frames and a few frames started with comb to each, and split the honey supers between them.
When I say, “empty brood box,” I mean a new brood box filled with empty frames and a few frames of brood from the box below. Putting brood in the upper box will encourage the workers to move into their new box.
They went from this setup
While we were in the hive, we also stole a peek at the honey supers. Although there were still no completely capped frames, there were many that appeared on the brink of being so, and we are hopeful we may be able to extract honey next weekend.
In the meantime, today we also finally gave in and attempted to extract old honey that’s been in and out of hives and discovered there’s a reason the bees haven’t been using it.
The comb and filling were practically solid, probably because most of it was made from sugar water. At least, that’s my best guess.
In the end, we scraped and power-washed all the foundation, cleaned off the frames, re-waxed the foundation, and used some of it today to create the new second story brood boxes on both hives.
We’ll see how the girls take to it. If they reject it, we’ll be investing in some new frames and foundation.
In short, we spent most of the day working on bee projects. And then we’ve spent most of the rest of it cleaning up after working on those projects.
And once again, we are crossing our fingers that the bees will be successful in creating a new queen.