My wife and I have always been interested in beekeeping, and we got our first bees this spring, a nuc. The original colony is doing great, considering they had to start from scratch building comb, etc. My first swarm caught me of guard on a hot, humid, windy Sunday afternoon, with nothing but a hive body and 8 frames as spares. I quick grabbed two 1/2 plywood drops for a bottom board and cover, cut 3 3/8 strips from a 2x4 on the table saw to create an entrance. I needed an excluder to make sure the queen couldn't escape, so I had to pull the only one I had from the existing colony.
Now to get the swarm, 45 feet up in a maple tree. I didn't have a ladder that tall, and I wasn't going to cut the tree down. But I did have my 870 12 gauge and a .22 rifle. So after 7 shots from the shotgun, the branch dropped a bit and so did the swarm, but not the queen, so they re-clustered. A few shots with the rifle dropped the branch into a small pine about face level and a few bucket transfers from the tree to the hive secured my first swarm! What a rush! I am waiting for my next swarm, this time I have extra everything.
All our hardware is Beemax and Pierco frames except for the 5 nuc frames, which I want to weed out next year. I have fed the bees most of the time with entrance feeders and some brood builder patties. A month ago we extracted 3 frames for 9.5 pints of the best honey we've ever had. Hopefully a long indian summer will allow us to extract even more.
Our philosophy is that the bees come first, and we will only take an excess. We have been on an organic journey of much better health these last two years and the bees are part of restoring our world to the level of health it once had. We will not use chemicals or anything that's not organic. I have been using Optima and Nosevit and plan to make my own patties using these products and other essential oils.
The swarm hive isn't even close to needing supers this year, and probably wouldn't survive the winter outside. I am planning on moving both to my heated garage for the winter, it is set at about 50 degrees.